Pennsylvania

 

This Site:

Discovery of America

The Explorers

Post Columbian Exploration

Thirteen Original Colonies

Colonization of America

Colonial Life

Colonial Days and Ways

Independence Movement

The Patriots

Prelude to War

Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War Battles

Overview of Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War Timeline

 

Civil War

American Flag

Mexican War

Republic of Texas

Indians

Pennsylvania Map

Map of the Pennsylvania Colony in 1705

State Seal of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania, STATE OF, one of the original thirteen States of the American Union, and a former colony; named in honor of William Penn, in the sketch of whose life much of its early history has been given.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century a Church of England party had grown up in Pennsylvania, towards which the Christian Quakers gravitated. These Episcopalians jealously watched the proceedings of the Quaker magistrates of the province, and represented them as unfit to rule, especially in time of war. Penn's governor (Evans) having thrown out a hint that the proprietor "might throw off a load he had found too heavy" the political interference of the Assembly-that body became very angry, and, headed by David Lloyd, a lawyer, and their speaker (who had been at one time Penn's attorney-general) , they agreed to nine resolutions, which Lloyd embodied in a memorial addressed to the proprietary. In it Penn was charged with an evasion of the fulfillment of his original promises to the colonists, by artfully securing that negative on the Assembly which he had once yielded; with playing the part of a hard and exacting landlord; with keeping the constitution of the courts and the administration of justice in his own hands; with appointing oppressive officers; and, finally, with a downright betrayal of the colonists in his present negotiation for parting with the government - a matter in which he was charged to proceed no further, lest it should look like a " first fleecing and then selling."

William PennPenn demanded the punishment of Lloyd. The new Assembly shifted the responsibility of Lloyd's memorial upon their predecessors. The friends of Penn, headed by Logan, secured a majority the next year, which voted an affectionate address to the proprietary. But vexatious troubles soon broke out again. Complaints were sent to Penn against Evans and Logan. The former was dissipated, and had corrupted William, the eldest son of Penn, who became a companion of his revels. That son publicly renounced Quakerism. Evans was superseded by Charles Gookin. He found the Assembly in a bad humor, because Penn sustained Logan, whom they denounced as "an enemy to the welfare of the province, and abusive of the representatives of the people." Logan went to England, and, returning, brought a letter from Penn to the Assembly, giving an outline history of his efforts in settling his province, and intimating that, unless a change should take place, and quiet be restored, he might find it necessary to dispose of so troublesome a sovereignty. An entirely new Assembly was chosen at the next election, and nearly all the points in dispute were arranged. But Penn, wearied with contentions, made an arrangement to cede the sovereignty of his province to the Queen for the consideration of about $60,000, reserving to himself the quitrents and property in the soil. The consummation of this bargain was prevented by Penn being prostrated by paralysis (1712) .

In 1733 the proprietary of Maryland agreed with the heirs of Penn that the boundaryline between their respective provinces and Delaware should be as follows: For the southern boundary of Delaware, a line commencing at Cape Henlopen, to be drawn due west from Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake. The west boundary of Delaware was to be a tangent drawn from the middle point of this line to a circle of 12 miles radius around New Castle. A due west line, continued northward to a parallel of latitude 15 miles south of Philadelphia, was to be the southern boundary of Pennsylvania. On his arrival in Maryland, the proprietary, on the plea of misrepresentation, refused to be bound by this agreement. He petitioned the King to be confirmed in possession of the whole peninsula between the Chesapeake and Delaware bays. The boundary was finally determined (see MASON AND DIXON'S LINE) substantially in accordance with the original agreement.

Colonial Taxation

In January, 1757, the Assembly of Pennsylvania passed a bill granting for his Majesty's service 100,000, by a tax on all the estates, real and personal, "taxable," within the province. The governor (Denny) refused to sanction it, because it would heavily tax the proprietaries of the province. He asked them to frame a bill providing supplies for the public service, such as he could, " consistent with his honor and his engagements to the proprietaries," subscribe. The Assembly remonstrated, saying they had framed the bill consistent with their rights as an " English representative body," and, in the name of their sovereign, " and in behalf of the distressed people whom they represented " unanimously demanded of the governor that he would give his assent to the bill they had passed. As it was a money bill, they demanded that it should not be altered or amended, " any instructions whatsoever from the proprietaries notwithstanding," as he would " answer to the crown for all the consequences of his refusal at his peril." The governor persisted in his refusal, grounded upon parliamentary usage in England, and the supposed hardship of taxing the unimproved land of the proprietaries. As the governor would not sign a bill that did not exempt the estates of the proprietaries from taxation, the Assembly sent Benjamin Franklin, as agent of the province, to petition the King for redress. This was the beginning of protracted disputes between the representatives of the people of Pennsylvania and the agents of the proprietaries.

Colonial Militia

An attempt of the Pennsylvania Assembly, in 1764, to enact a new militia law brought on another quarrel between the proprietaries and the representatives of the people. One of the former, John Penn, was now governor. He claimed the right to appoint the officers of the militia, and insisted upon several other provisions, to which the Assembly would not give its assent. At the same time a controversy arose concerning the interpretation of the decision of the Lords of Trade and Plantations, authorizing the taxation of the proprietary estates. At the annual election (May, 1764) the proprietary party in Philadelphia, by great exertions, defeated Franklin in that city. Yet the anti-proprietary party had a large majority in the Assembly. The new Assembly sent Franklin to England again as their agent, authorized to ask for the abrogation of the proprietary authority and the establishment of a royal government. The mutterings of the gathering tempest of revolution which finally gave independence to the Americans were then growing louder and louder, and nothing more was done in the matter. The opponents of the proprietaries in Pennsylvania were by no means united on this point. The Episcopalians and Quakers were favorable to a change, while the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians were opposed to it, because they feared the ascendency of the Church of England. The patronage of the proprietaries attached many to their interests, and the pleasant memories of William Penn inclined many to favor them. On June 18, 1774, there was a general conference of the committees of the several counties in the State. They assembled at Carpenters' Hall, in Philadelphia. In this conference few, if any, of the old Assembly appeared. Thomas McKean was chosen president, and on the 19th the 104 members present unanimously approved the action of Congress respecting the formation of States. They condemned the present government of the colony as incompetent, and a new one was ordered to be formed on the authority of the people. On the afternoon of the 24th, with equal unannimity, the delegates declared, for themselves and their constituents, their willingness to concur in a vote of Congress for independence.

The Question of Independence

After the stirring battle of Lexington and Concord, a large public meeting was held at Philadelphia (April 24, 1775) , at which measures were taken for entering into a volunteer military association, the spirit of which pervaded the whole province. Many of the young Quakers took part in the organization, in spite of the remonstrance of their elders, and were disowned. They afterwards formed a society called " Free Quakers." Thomas Mifflin (afterwards a major-general) was a leading spirit among these. JOHN DICKINSON accepted the command of a regiment; so, also, did Thomas McKean and James Wilson, both afterwards signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Assembly, which met soon afterwards, voted 1,800 towards the expenses of these volunteers. They also appointed a committee of safety, with Dr. Franklin as chairman, which not only took measures for the defense of Philadelphia, but soon afterwards assumed the whole executive authority of the province. Timidity marked the course of the legislature of Pennsylvania in the autumn of 1775, while the people at large, especially in Philadelphia, were zealously in favor of the martial proceedings of Congress. The Assembly was under the influence of John Dickinson, who opposed independence to the last. When the Assembly met (October 16, 1775), all of the members present subscribed to the usual engagement of allegiance to the King. In a few days the Quakers presented an address in favor of conciliatory measures, and deprecating everything " likely to widen or perpetuate the breach with the parent state." The committee of sixty for the City and Liberties of Philadelphia, headed by George Clymer and Thomas McKean, went in procession, two by two, to the State-house, and delivered a remonstrance, calculated to counteract the influence of Dickinson and the Quakers. This halting spirit in the Assembly appeared several months longer, and on the vote for independence (July 2, 1776) the Pennsylvania delegates were divided. The Assembly, influenced by the proprietary government and office-holders in its own body, as well as by timid patriots, hoping, like John Dickinson, for peace and reconciliation, steadily opposed the idea of independence. Finally, a town-meeting of 4,000 people, held in State-house Yard, in Philadelphia (May 24, 1776), selected for its president Daniel Roberdeau. The meeting voted that the instruction of the Assembly for forming a new government (in accordance with John Adams's proposition) was illegal and an attempt at usurpation; and the committee of the City and Liberties of Philadelphia were directed to summon a conference of the committees of every county in the province to make arrangements for a constituent convention to be chosen by the people. Then was preparation made for the fall of the proprietary charter of Pennsylvania. Dickinson and his friends persisted in opposition to independence. Concessions were made to the Continental Congress by the Assembly in not requiring newly elected members to swear allegiance to the King. Finally, on May 24, the committee of inspection of the city of Philadelphia addressed a memorial to the Congress, setting forth that the Assembly did not possess the confidence of the people, nor truly represent the sentiments of the province; and that measures had been taken for assembling a popular convention. The Assembly became nervous. It felt that its dissolution was nigh. In the first days of June no governor appeared. The members showed signs of yielding to the popular pressure; but on the 7th, the very day when Richard Henry Lee offered his famous resolution for independence in Congress, John Dickinson, in a speech in the Assembly, pledged his word to the proprietary chief-justice (Allen), and to the whole House, that he and a majority of the Pennsylvania delegates in the Congress would continue to vote against independence. Only once again (after June 9, 1776) did a quorum of members of the Pennsylvania Assembly appear. The proprietary government had expired.

The gloomy outlook after the fall of Fort Washington and the flight of Washington and his melting army across New Jersey in 1776 caused many persons of influence in Pennsylvania, as well as in New Jersey, to waver and fall away from the patriot cause. The most conspicuous of these in Pennsylvania were Joseph Galloway, who had been a member of the first Continental Congress, and Andrew Allen, also a member of that Congress, and two of his brothers. The brothers Howe having issued a new proclamation of pardon and amnesty to all who should within sixty days promise not to take up arms against the King, these men availed themselves of it, not doubting their speedy restoration to their former fortunes and political importance. They went over to Howe; so did Samuel Tucker, a leader in the movements against British oppression in New Jersey, and a host of Jersey men, who signed a pledge of fidelity to the British crown. Even John Dickinson, whose fidelity as a patriot may not be questioned, was so thoroughly convinced of the folly of the Declaration of Independence and the probability of a return to the British fold that he discredited the Continental bills of credit, and refused to accept an appointment from Delaware as a delegate in Congress. The State of Maryland also showed a willingness at this juncture to renounce the Declaration of Independence for the sake of peace. Amid this falling away of civilians and the rapid melting of his army, Washington's faith and courage never faltered. From Newark, when he was flying with his shattered and rapidly diminishing forces towards the Delaware River before pursuing Cornwallis, he applied to the patriotic and energetic William Livingston, governor of New Jersey, for aid. To expressions of sympathy from the governor he replied (Nov. 30, 1776), " I will not despair."

Tax Revolt

Early in 1799 an insurrection broke out due to a singular cause. A direct tax had been levied, among other things, on houses, arranged in classes. A means for making that classification was by measuring windows. The German inhabitants of Northampton, Bucks, and Montgomery counties made such violent opposition to this measurement that those engaged in it were compelled to desist. Warrants were issued for the arrest of opposers of the law; and in the village of Bethlehem the marshal, having about thirty prisoners, was set upon by a party of fifty horsemen, headed by a man named Fries. The President sent troops to maintain the law. No opposition was made to them, and Fries and about thirty others were arrested and taken to Philadelphia, where their leader was indicted for treason, tried twice, each time found guilty, but finally pardoned. Several others were tried for the same offence. While these trials were going on, Duane, editor of the Aurora (Bache had died of yellow fever), abused the officers and troops, who, finding no law to touch him, sent a deputation of their own number to chastise him, which they did on his own premises.

New State Constitution

Pennsylvania was governed by a code framed by William Penn, and several times amended, until Sept. 28, 1776, when a State constitution was adopted, and Pennsylvania took her place in the Union. In 1790 a new constitution was adopted, which has since been several times amended. In 1838 provision was made for electing, instead of appointing, county officers; the right of voting was limited to white persons, and the term of judicial offices was reduced from life to ten and fifteen years. In 1850 the judiciary was made elective by the people; subscriptions to internal improvements by municipal authorities was prohibited, and in 1864 the right of suffrage was guaranteed to soldiers in the field. An amended constitution went into force on January 1, 1874. Lancaster was the seat of the State government from 1799 till 1812, when Harrisburg became the State capital. In 1808 a case which had been in existence since the Revolution brought the State of Pennsylvania into collision with the Supreme Court of the United States. During the disputes in the case alluded to-about prize-money - David Rittenhouse, as State treasurer of Pennsylvania, had received certain certificates of national debt. Rittenhouse settled his accounts as treasurer in 1788 and resigned his office, but still retained these certificates, having given his bond to the judge of the State court to hold him harmless as to other claimants. The certificates were held by Rittenhouse to indemnify him against the bond he had given. When the public debt was funded he caused these certificates to be funded in his own name, but for the benefit of whom it might concern. Rittenhouse died in 1801, leaving his three daughters executors of his estate. They were called upon by the State treasurer to deliver the certificates to him and pay over the accrued interest. They refused to do so, on ac-count of a pending suit in the State court by a claimant for the amount. The State court finally declined to interfere, on the technical ground that it was an admiralty matter and was not cognizable in a court of common law. The claimant then applied to the United States district court for an order to compel the executors of Rittenhouse to pay over to him the certificates and accumulated interest, then amounting to about $15,000. Such a decree was made in 1803, when the legislature of Pennsylvania passed a law to compel the executors to pay the funds into the State treasury, pledging the faith of the State to hold them harmless. Finally the Supreme Court of the United States issued a mandamus for the judge of the district court to carry the decree into execution, despite the State law. It was done (March 12, 1809) ; but the marshal, when he went to serve the process of attachment, found the houses of the respondents protected by an armed guard, who resisted his entrance by bayonets. These guards were State militia, under General Bright, with the sanction of the governor. The legislature and the governor now receded somewhat. The former made an appropriation of $18,000 to meet any contingency ; and finally, after a show of resistance, which, to some, threatened a sort of civil war in the streets of Philadelphia, the governor paid over the sum to the marshal out of the appropriation. This was a blow to the doctrine of State supremacy, which still held a large place in the political creed of the people of all the States. The supremacy of the nation-al judiciary was fully vindicated.

Pennsylvania in the Civil War

In the Civil War Pennsylvania was invaded by the Confederates, and on its soil the decisive battle of the war occurred, at Gettysburg. The next year (1864) the Confederates penetrated to Chambersburg, and nearly destroyed the town by fire. At the beginning of the Civil War Pennsylvania raised a large body of reserve troops, and during the war furnished to the National army 387,284 troops.

Washington Artillery

Artillery Protecting Washington DC in Civil War

This State has the honor of having sent the first troops to the national capital for its defense, in April, 1861. The troops comprised five companies from the interior of the state - namely, Washington Artillery and National Light Infantry, of Pottsville; the Ringgold Light Artillery, of Reading; the Logan Guards, of Lewistown; and the Allen Infantry, of Allentown. On the call of the President, the commanders of these companies telegraphed to Governor Curtin that their ranks were full and ready for service. They were assembled at Harrisburg on the evening of April 17. Accompanied by forty regular soldiers destined for Fort McHenry, they went by rail to Baltimore the next morning, and while passing from one railway station to another were subjected to gross insults and attacked with missiles by a mob. They were without arms, for their expected new muskets were not ready when they got to Harrisburg. They found Maryland a hostile territory to pass through, but they reached the capital in safety early in the evening of April 18. They were received by the government and loyal people there with heartfelt joy, for rumors that the minutemen of Maryland and Virginia were about to seize Washington, D. C., had been prevalent all day. The Pennsylvanians were hailed as deliverers. They were marched to the Capitol grounds, greeted by cheer after cheer, and assigned to quarters in the hall of the House of Representatives. The startling rumor soon spread over the city that 2,000 National troops had arrived, well armed with Minie rifles. The real number was 530. The disunionists and their sympathizers were overawed just in time to save the capital from seizure.

GENERAL ROBERT PATTERSON, then commander of the Department of Pennsylvania, comprehended the wants of government, and, while the capital was cut off from communication with the loyal people of the State, he took the responsibility of officially requesting (April 25, 1861) the governor of Pennsylvania to direct the organization of twenty-five regiments of volunteers. It was done. These were in addition to the sixteen regiments called for by the Secretary of War. The legislature took the twenty-five regiments into the service of the State, the Secretary of War first declining to receive them. This was the origin of the fine body of soldiers known as the Pennsylvania Reserves, who were gladly accepted by the Secretary after the battle of Bull Run.

 

 

free web hit counter

 

Site Copyright 2003-2014 Son of the South.  For Questions or comments about this collection,

contact: paul@sonofthesouth.net

privacy policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.