Pennsylvania Facts and History

Abbreviated as PA, Pennsylvania is a state of the North American confederation, one of the original thirteen; the second for size (116,872 sq. km.) and for population (9,631,350 inhabitants, 1930 census) among the Central Atlantic, to which it belongs. Of all the states of the union, Pennsylvania is the 31st for surface area, but the 2nd (after that of New York) for population, and the 6th for population density (82 per sq. Km.).

The territory has an approximately rectangular shape; except in east, where the winding course of Delaware serves as a border, which separates it from the states of New York and New Jersey, its contours are set by conventional, geometric lines, which are identified at north (New York) with 42 ° N. (except for a short stretch along the banks of the L. Erie), to west (Ohio, West Virginia) with 80 ° 30 ‘W. and to south (West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware) with 39 ° 45 ‘N.

The northwestern half of the state is part of the Appalachian plateau, which narrows in width as you proceed towards the south: region in which the relief, as a rule (especially to the W), slightly moved, remains within rather modest heights, generally declining towards the area of ​​the great lakes. A series of mountainous diaphragms, arranged nearly southwest  to the northeast , it crosses the central part of Pennsylvania (Great Valley), but without touching notable elevations (the maximum, in the whole state, remains less than 1000 meters), and rapidly declines towards the north, while the south-eastern extremity of the territory is occupied by an even more depressed cloister of hills, with which the last digits of the Blue Ridge end up on the coastal plain, which remains completely outside the borders of the state.

The climate rapidly acquires a continental character as we proceed westward; average annual temperatures and rainfall are decreasing, while the annual and diurnal excursion increases. So from the 12 ° of annual average in Filadelfia we pass to 9 °, 3 in Erie, on the lake of the same name; the averages for January and July are respectively −0 °, 1 and 24 °, 3 against −3 °, 3 and 22 °, 1; those of annual rainfall of 1103 against 980 mm.

Of the territory of the state approximately 3/5 (695.7 thousand ha.) Represents. feel the agricultural and forestry productive surface, the crops occupy however little more than half of this surface, less than land suitable for grazing, and the rest the wood, much reduced from the original extension. Cereals and tobacco form the basis of agriculture; among the former, wheat (15 million hl. in 1932) and oats (8.7 million hl.) predominate; the potato harvest is also noteworthy (7.5 million hl.). In addition to tobacco, various species of fruit plants are grown on a large scale (apple trees, peach trees, vines, etc.). The farm has 1.4 million heads of cattle, 660,000 pigs, 490,000 goats and 300,000 horses; farmyard animals exceed 3 million heads.

But the real wealth of Pennsylvania is underground, for whose products it is at the head of all the states of the Uni. one; and of these products by far the most important is hard coal, which represents approximately 4/5 in value of what the state derives from the exploitation of mines. A little less than half is actually absorbed by the production of anthracite alone (69.4 million tons in 1930, for a million dollars 354.6 million), which is extracted over an area of ​​about 40 thousand square kilometers. middle courses of Delaware and Susquehanna and especially in the three basins of the north (Scranton, Pittston, Wilkes-Barre, Old Forge, Nanticoke), of the Center (Hazelton, Shamokin, Shenandoah) and of the south (Pottsville, Minersville, Schuylkill). In western Pennsylvania, from Pittsburg to Connellsville,

Of minor, but not negligible importance are the production of oil (11.9 million barrels in 1930), which is obtained from the extreme north-western corner of the state, from the banks of the Erie to the Middle Allegheny (Oil Creek, where are the first wells with which in 1859 the extraction of oil in the United States began), and of iron (magnetite and hematite for 437 thousand tons; siderite for 5 million tons, in 1930), mainly extracted from Blue Ridge (Libanon), in the same area with the best coal reserves.

These favorable conditions have determined a rapid and continuous development of industries, for the whole of which Pennsylvania is surpassed only by the finite state of New York; in 1930 there were 20,065 enterprises with 1.2 million workers and a production valued at 6.5 billion dollars. At the head of all industries are naturally metallurgical industries (34.5% of the capacity of blast furnaces in the entire Union and 36.4% of the plants for the production of iron and steel are concentrated in Pennsylvania), with factories among the greatest in the world (especially in Pittsburg, which is the center of this production); but no less remarkable is the importance of the textile industries (40.9% of the Union’s plants for the production of silk), which marked just under 1 billion dollars in 1930,

The state, which counted 434,000 residents in 1790, it exceeded one million thirty years later, and two in the middle of the century. XIX. The census of 1870 marked 3,521,951 inhabitants, which rose to 5,258,113 in 1890, to 6,302,115 in 1900, to 7,665,111 in 1910, to 8,720,017 in 1920. The increase between 1920 and 1930 was therefore by 10.5%, while it had been 13.8% between 1910 and 1920 and 21.6% between 1900 and 1910. Those born abroad made up 12.8% of the total in 1930 (1,253,051 residents); of these, the largest colony was the Italian (18.3%), with 255,979 units (only the state of New York has a larger one), amassed above all in the major industrial centers. Followed by the Polish (13.5%), the Russian (9.4%), the Czechoslovakian (9%), the German (9%), the Irish (8%), etc. Negroes make up just 4.5% of the total.

Of the population, 67.8% live in urban centers; of these one is close to two million inhabitants. (Philadelphia), one is over half a million (Pittsburg), three over 100,000. (Scranton, Erie, Reading), and ten the 50,000 residents (Allentown, Wilkes-Barre, Altoona, Harrisburg – the capital – Johnstown, Lancaster, Chester, Bethlehem, York, Mc Keesport). Location and development of these cities are essentially related to industry, but most of the centers are lined up along rivers that mark, also because they are often followed by roads and railways, the fundamental directions of traffic.


On 1 June 1680 William Penn (v.) Asked Charles II, for help from his family to the Crown, to donate the lands in America west of Delaware and north of Maryland, and northwards, ad libitum. The king consented, and the Duke of York (later James II) added his rights to the lands west and south of the bay and the Delaware River. The terms of this donation caused a conflict with the Baltimores, which lasted until 1760; and a few years later two English surveyors, Mason and Dixon, defined the southern boundary at 39 ° 44 ‘. It was the intention of the donors to give Penn three degrees of latitude; but for the opposition of New York the northern border was fixed at 42 ° N. Penn, discarding the name of New Wales, chose “Sylvania”, to which the king, despite the protests of the modest Quaker, prefixed “Penn”. The new province also included the present-day state of Delaware, then known as the “Territories” or “Lower Counties”. On 27 October 1682 the founder landed in his new colony. He treated well the Indians and the Swedes and Dutch whom he found already established in his lands, and soon attracted many colonists among the Quakers of Great Britain and the Mennonites and German and Swiss pietists, and immediately wanted to found a great city, Philadelphia, at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. The powers of the owner were extensive, but for the first time many rights were reserved to the Crown. A statute compiled by Penn, said Frame of government, entrusted the government to a council of 72 (in which 3 votes were reserved for himself), eligible for a third each year by all citizens, and having the power to propose laws to an assembly of 200 citizens, who had to approve them or reject them without discussion. Citizen was any person who owned land or paid taxes. Traces of his humanitarian ideas remain in the penitentiary system and in the religious freedom granted to everyone who recognizes a divine creator; and this a step away from nearby Baltimore, where it was necessary to profess to be a Christian. Even in Pennsylvania, however, only Christians were allowed to participate in the government. Penn organized its colony, however, with little regard for its draft charter. At Christmas 1682 he summoned a 40-person room to Chester, which among other laws approved the “Act of union” between the province and the “territories”. After much prevarication, a new statute was adopted in March 1682-83, said Act of Settlement, which established a council of at least 18 and an assembly of at least 36 people. The constitutionality of these laws, never submitted to the crown and not always respected by Penn, has been questioned. The quarrel with the Baltimores forced the Penn to return to England in August 1684, after having entrusted executive power to the Council. He never returned to America, and, after his death in 1718, his descendants viewed the colony not, like him, as a “sacred experiment,” but as a source of income. The owners tried to force the reluctant settlers to contribute to the costs of the Spanish and Seven Years Wars. The colonists for their part insisted on imposing a tax on the private land of the owners, succeeding in 1760. The further goal, to eliminate the owners and transform the territory into a royal colony, was forgotten due to the pressing problem of independence. After the Seven Years’ War, the Quakers lost the monopoly of the government, which came under the influence of the Scotch Irish immigrants. During the revolution, despite important currents of allegiance to the crown, Pennsylvania contributed greatly to the success of the revolt, mainly thanks to its politicians. The two continental congresses met in Pennsylvania (1774-1781), and in Philadelphia the declaration of independence was voted in 1776, which is, with good reason, considered the Magna Carta of modern political freedom. The important battles of Brandywine and Germantown (1777) took place in Pennsylvania, and there, at Valley Forge, Washington spent the critical winter of 1777-78. The revolution wiped out the political rights of the Penn family, which received an indemnity of 120,000 pounds in 1779 and was able to keep the titles and large estates in several counties, which are still in its hands. A new statute formulated in 1776, but which was never submitted to popular vote, continued the unicameral system, abolished the office of the governor, entrusting executive power to a council of twelve, and created a council of censors, which was to meet every seven years, to supervise the implementation of the constitution.  This was radically changed in 1790: the office of governor was re-established, a bicameral system established, and the two councils, the twelve and the censors, were abolished.

In Pennsylvania, a serious uprising against the federal whiskey tax took place in 1794, and another in 1799 against the house tax, led by the German John Fries. In 1838 the two parties, the Whig and the Democrat, following a hard-fought election, each organized their own chamber of deputies, which gave rise to a period of violence called the “Buckshot War”. Eventually the Democrats won it.

Over time, however, Pennsylvania broke away from the Democratic Party and at the outbreak of the civil war had become distinctly republican.

The decisive battle of that war took place in Pennsylvania, in Gettysburg (1863).

The immense industrial development of the state, rich in coal mines and iron and steel factories, made it too frequently the scene of bloody class struggles. Especially famous was the terrorist organization known as the “Molly Maguires”, which infested the mining area for a long time and was suppressed in 1889 with the intervention of Allan Pinkerton’s private policemen. The use of these private cops has become constant in the state and is one of the most frequent causes of industrial friction.

Pennsylvania, for its industrial development, also represents the region where the most fanatical defense of the high protectionist tariffs is advocated, to which many believed they could first attribute America’s unprecedented prosperity, and then its collapse in 1929. The state is almost always republican. Philadelphia was, with a short interval, the seat of the federal government until the creation of Washington in 1800. Here was also the seat of the state capital, which was then moved to Lancaster in 1799 and from there to Harrisburg in 1812.

Pennsylvania Facts and History


City of the USA (33,800 residents C. 2006), in Pennsylvania southeast, 120 km west of Philadelphia. Market of one of the most prosperous areas of Pennsylvania (tobacco, livestock and silks), it has food, metallurgical, linoleum, silk factories, tobacco factories.

Founded in 1717, it was for one day only, September 27, 1777 (when Congress met there), the capital of the USA and, between 1779 and 1812, the capital of Pennsylvania.


City of the USA (47,164 in 2006), capital of the state of Pennsylvania since 1812, on the Susquehanna River, west of Philadelphia. Road, rail and river navigation junction with steel, mechanical, chemical, food and footwear industries.


Philadelphia is the capital of Pennsylvania (until 1799). It was founded by William Penn in 1681. During the war for independence it was the seat of the first Continental Congress and soon after of the Constitutional Convention; it was also the transitional capital of the United States (1790-1800). An important industrial city, it was a notable political center: in 1833 the Anti-Slavery Society arose there and later the first trade unions. In 1876 it hosted the universal exhibition for the centenary of the Declaration of Independence.

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