Thirteen Colonies > Middle Colonies > Province of Pennsylvania

Province of Pennsylvania

Background

As the central colony, Pennsylvania's attitude in the struggle with the mother country was of vast importance. The British party was strong because of the loyalty of the large Church of England element, the neutrality of many Quakers, Dunkers, and Mennonites, and a general satisfaction with the liberal and free government of the province, which had been won gradually and had not suffered such catastrophic reverses as had embittered the people of Massachusetts, for instance. But the Whig party under the lead of John Dickinson, Thomas Mifflin and Joseph Reed was successful in the state, and Pennsylvania contributed greatly to the success of the War of Independence, by the important services rendered by her statesmen, by providing troops and by the financial aid given by Robert Morris (q.v.).

The two Continental Congresses (1774, and 1775-1781) met in Philadelphia, except for the months when Philadelphia was occupied by the British army and Congress met in Lancaster and York, Pennsylvania, and then in Princeton, New Jersey. In Philadelphia the second Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which the Pennsylvania delegation, excepting Franklin, thought premature at the time, but which was well supported by Pennsylvania afterwards.

During the War of Independence battles were fought at Brandywine (1777), Paoli (1777), Fort Mifflin (1777) and Germantown (1777), and Washington's army spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge; and Philadelphia was occupied by the British from the 26th of September 1777 to the 18th of June 1778. The Penns lost their governmental rights in 1776, and three years later their territorial interests were vested in the commonwealth in return for a grant of £120,000 and the guarantee of titles to private estates held in severally. They still own considerable property in and around Wilkes-Barré, in Luzerne county, and in Philadelphia.

Thirteen Colonies

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 21

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