Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, one of the Middle Atlantic states, and one of the 13 original states of the United States. It entered the Union on December 12, 1787, making it second after Delaware. Pennsylvania means “Penn’s woodland.” It was named in honor of Admiral William Penn, whose son, William Penn, founded the colony as a haven for members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, and other religious minorities in 1682. The state is known as the Quaker State, and is also referred to as the Keystone State. This term was apparently first used because of the state’s political importance, though it is also appropriate because of its location in the middle of the 13 original states. With six states to the north and six to the south, Pennsylvania was the keystone in an arch of states. Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is its largest city.
One of Pennsylvania’s outstanding characteristics is its great diversity. In southeastern Pennsylvania, Berks, Lancaster, York, and Chester counties contain some particularly fertile soils. Dairy products, poultry and poultry products, cattle, nursery and greenhouse products, and grains are especially valuable. Central and northern Pennsylvania contains extensive areas of commercial forest. The state continues to be an important industrial state, though there has been a dramatic shift to service-based employment. Especially in western Pennsylvania, many smaller communities as well as Pittsburgh are no longer the flourishing centers of manufacturing that they once were.
Such national shrines as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge, and Gettysburg are in the state and are constant reminders of Pennsylvania’s importance in the history of the United States.
Although populous, Pennsylvania is relatively small, ranking 33rd among the states in size. It has an area of 119,282 sq km (46,055 sq mi), including 1,269 sq km (490 sq mi) of inland waters and the 1,940 (2000) sq km (749 sq mi) of Lake Erie over which it has jurisdiction. At its maximum, Pennsylvania measures 502 km (312 mi) from east to west and 254 km (158 mi) from north to south. It is bounded on the north by New York and Lake Erie; on the east by New York and New Jersey; on the south by Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia; and on the west by West Virginia and Ohio.
Pennsylvania may be divided into seven regions based upon differences in landforms. Starting in the southeast, the landform regions are: the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, South Mountain, the Reading Prong, the Ridge and Valley, the Allegheny Plateaus, and the Lake Erie Lowland.
The Atlantic portion of the Coastal Plain in Pennsylvania is part of a vast, low sandy plain that runs along the East Coast of the United States. In Pennsylvania the coastal plain is relatively narrow. Philadelphia is located on this plain. At the western edge of the region the Coastal Plain meets the more resistant rocks of the Piedmont.
The Piedmont is an area of foothills that is located between the flat Coastal Plain and the great Appalachian mountain system to the west (see Piedmont Plateau). It consists of old crystalline rocks with gently rolling surfaces. Elevations generally range from about 30 to 300 m (about 100 to 1,000 ft). Slopes are moderate, and there are few sharp breaks between hilltops and valley bottoms.
Just west of the Piedmont a narrow tongue of the Blue Ridge Mountains extends into Pennsylvania. This extension is known as South Mountain in both Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Another tongue of mountains lies across the Susquehanna River valley to the northeast of South Mountain. This highland area is known as the Reading Prong. Geologically, it can be traced through the New Jersey Highlands into the mountainous portions of northern New England. Often South Mountain and the Reading Prong are considered together to be extensions of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Higher points in South Mountain and the Reading Prong rise to about 450 m (about 1,500 ft) above sea level.
The Ridge and Valley region lies to the west of South Mountain and the Reading Prong. It begins with the Great Valley, a fingerlike lowland about 30 km (about 20 mi) wide that extends from the Maryland border in the southwest to the Delaware River in the northeast. The Great Valley is made up of the Lebanon, Lehigh, and Cumberland valleys. Like the Piedmont, the Great Valley is gently rolling. Unlike many valleys, it is not the product of erosion by a single stream but the work of many. Major streams like the Schuylkill and Susquehanna rivers actually cut across the Great Valley, rather than follow it.
Forming the northern and western walls of the Great Valley are the first ridges of the Ridge and Valley region. The series of long parallel ridges includes Blue, Tuscarora, Jacks, and Bald Eagle mountains. Ridges alternate with long narrow valleys, which are gently rolling lowlands like the Great Valley and the lowlands of the Piedmont. However, the ridges themselves are rough and rocky, and rise more than 300 m (1,000 ft) above the lowlands. Rock in the Ridge and Valley has been steeply folded.
The Allegheny Plateaus is the largest of Pennsylvania’s landform regions. It occupies all of the northern part of the state and much of the west. The plateaus extend into a number of other states, including Ohio and West Virginia. The Allegheny Plateaus region contains the immense Appalachian coalfield, whose bituminous coal deposits extend south into Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. Rocks in this region are flat lying, rather than steeply folded as in the Ridge and Valley. Nevertheless, few parts of the Allegheny Plateaus are level. Most of the region has been deeply etched by streams that branch and rebranch until they resemble the arms of a great tree. Elevations average about 600 m (about 2,000 ft) in the north and 370 m (about 1,200 ft) in southern Pennsylvania.
There are marked regional differences within the Allegheny Plateaus. In the east a small segment is known as the Pocono Plateau or Pocono Mountains. The Poconos are covered with lakes and woodlands. They were once covered by glaciers, as was much of the northern part of the Allegheny Plateaus. Hills have been smoothed and valleys filled, so that differences in elevation are not great.
South of the portions of the Allegheny Plateaus that were glaciated, a great looping arc of highly dissected plateau borders the Ridge and Valley region. This portion of the Allegheny Plateaus contains the Allegheny Mountains, which are bordered on the east by a steep ridge known as the Allegheny Front. The Allegheny Front abruptly separates the Ridge and Valley from the Allegheny Plateaus. The Allegheny Front contains Mount Davis, the highest point in the state at 979 m (3,213 ft) above sea level. The Allegheny Front is cut by an intricate maze of deep valleys.
West of the Allegheny Mountains the Allegheny Plateaus region decreases in elevation, and streams have dissected it less deeply. This western portion of the Allegheny Plateaus is sometimes referred to as the Pittsburgh Plateaus.
The seventh landform region found in Pennsylvania is the Lake Erie Lowland, an extension of the Central Lowland. In Pennsylvania the region is only a slim strip of land from 5 to 8 km (3 to 4 mi) wide along the southern shore of Lake Erie. The ascent toward the south from Lake Erie to the Allegheny Plateaus is achieved by a series of glacial terraces, or steps, in the lowland plain. The terraces were formed by wave action when Lake Erie was larger long ago.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
There are three major river basins in Pennsylvania: the Susquehanna, the Ohio, and the Delaware. Together they drain more than 90 percent of Pennsylvania’s land area. Most of eastern and central Pennsylvania is drained by the Susquehanna and Delaware systems. The western part of the state is drained by the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, which join at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio. In addition to the three major river basins, short streams flowing into Lake Erie drain the northwestern fringe of the state; a small area of Potter County, in north-central Pennsylvania, is drained by the Genesee River into Lake Ontario; and parts of south-central Pennsylvania are drained by tributaries of the Potomac River.
Many of the state’s rivers and streams flow through mountainous or hilly regions, often cutting spectacular gorges and water gaps, which have provided excellent natural passageways for railroads and highways. Numerous dams and reservoirs in the state are designed to control flooding, generate power, support recreation, and provide drinking water.
The Delaware River forms the state’s eastern boundary. The sea has invaded the lower portion of the Delaware and flooded the adjacent coastal plain, creating a tidal estuary. The river has long been important commercially. Oceangoing ships can sail up the Delaware to Philadelphia and go as far north as Trenton, New Jersey.
The Susquehanna River rises in two main branches. The northern portion of the river, called the North Branch, enters northeastern Pennsylvania from New York and follows a winding course southward. The West Branch begins in the Allegheny Mountains and flows generally eastward. The two branches meet at Sunbury in Northumberland County, and continue southward to eventually empty into Chesapeake Bay. The Susquehanna’s principal tributary, the Juniata River, also begins in the Allegheny Mountains and follows a twisting course eastward through a series of mountain ridges before joining the Susquehanna River upstream from Harrisburg.
The Allegheny River rises in the northwest and flows generally southward. The Monongahela River enters the state from West Virginia and flows northward. The junction at Pittsburgh of these two rivers gives birth to the Ohio River, which flows westward to its eventual junction with the Mississippi River. The rivers of southwestern Pennsylvania are important transportation routes, particularly for the transport of coal.
Since northeastern and northwestern Pennsylvania were once glaciated, these regions have many small natural lakes and ponds. Conneaut Lake, which covers 376 hectares (929 acres) in Crawford County, is the state’s largest natural lake. However, several lakes created when dams were built are considerably larger. These include Pymatuning Reservoir, which is located just west of Conneaut Lake on the Pennsylvania-Ohio state line, and Lake Wallenpaupack in the Pocono Mountains.
Because of the prevailing westerly winds that sweep weather systems eastward from the interior of the continent, the Atlantic Ocean has a relatively small effect on Pennsylvania’s climate. The state has climates that are generally known as humid continental. There are distinct seasonal variations and an abundance of rainfall.
Although average temperatures in the north are cooler than those in the south, altitude is particularly important in accounting for climatic variations. The state’s lowland climatic region changes into the upland climatic region at an elevation of about 300 m (about 1,000 ft).
Lowland Pennsylvania includes the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the low-lying hills of the southeast, the valleys of the Ridge and Valley, and the river valleys converging on Pittsburgh. These areas have comparatively long summers and mild winters, with growing seasons ranging from five to seven months and mean annual temperatures ranging from about 12°C (about 54°F) at Philadelphia to about 10°C (about 50°F) in the central valleys.
Upland Pennsylvania includes the higher ridges of the Ridge and Valley and most of the Allegheny Plateaus. Summers are short and winters are comparatively severe. The growing season is commonly no more than three to four months long, and the mean annual temperature ranges from about 7° to 9°C (about 44° to 49°F).
A third type of climate is prevalent in a small area near Lake Erie. The climate there is influenced by the presence of the lake, which is warmer in winter and cooler in summer than the surrounding land. Consequently, the city of Erie has a growing season almost as long as that of Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania, in sharp contrast to the land between. Summers around Erie are long but relatively cool, with a July mean of 19°C (66°F). Winters are comparatively short and not nearly as severe as those farther inland. Erie’s January mean is -2°C (28°F).
Rainfall averages 1,070 mm (42 in) a year, ranging from about 910 mm (about 36 in) in the southwest to 1,270 mm (50 in) and more at higher elevations in the Allegheny and Pocono mountains. Rainfall is heaviest during spring and summer, when it is most needed for growing crops. Snowfall is fairly heavy throughout much of the Allegheny Plateaus, and snow remains on the ground for most of the winter.
The soils of Pennsylvania vary considerably from place to place. The best agricultural soils tend to be found in southeastern Pennsylvania. Exceptionally productive soils derived from limestone cover the gently rolling hills of the Piedmont, and can produce bountiful crops. Excellent soils formed from limestone also occur in parts of the Great Valley and in some of the central valleys. The largest of these is the middle Susquehanna Valley, situated where the two branches of the Susquehanna River meet in the central part of the state.
Soils are relatively poor for agricultural purposes over most of the state. Most valleys in central Pennsylvania have less fertile soils and have been abandoned as farming areas, while higher elevations have never been farmed. The immature soils found in glaciated areas are also generally poor for farming.
The name Pennsylvania means “Penn’s woodland.” The term is appropriate because the entire area was once a continuous forest. As European settlers arrived, land was cleared for farming and timber was cut to provide both lumber and charcoal. Eventually only a few patches of virgin forest remained. Since the end of the 19th century, however, extensive reforestation has occurred and 59 percent of the state is now covered by trees. In some of the more remote areas the woodlands have almost regained a pre-settlement wildness.
Pennsylvania is an area of transition between the southern and northern forests of eastern North America. Hardwoods typical of the southern forests, including oak, elm, maple, hickory, ash, walnut, sycamore, yellow poplar, aspen, and birch, are found in the low-lying hills and valleys of southeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania. At higher elevations the white pine, pitch pine, hemlock, and other softwoods of the northern forests predominate.
Familiar flowering shrubs include the dogwood, redbud, pink azalea, and mountain laurel. Cranberries grow in many marshy areas, and blueberries are common on rocky hillsides. Violets, anemones, jack-in-the-pulpits, sweet williams, trilliums, and lady’s slippers are among the many varieties of wildflowers. The hemlock and mountain laurel are so abundant and so widely identified with Pennsylvania that they have been designated the official state tree and state flower, respectively.
Pennsylvania has a surprising abundance of wildlife. Many animals are protected by game laws, and many habitats are protected by state forest natural areas, sanctuaries, or state game lands. Black bears, once nearly extinct in Pennsylvania, are numerous throughout the state. The white-tailed deer is the most common large animal in the state. Among the many small animals in Pennsylvania are rabbits, squirrels, and woodchucks. Other animals include the beaver, raccoon, opossum, muskrat, coyote, gray and red fox, skunk, ermine, and weasel.
Among the many varieties of songbirds in the state are the robin, oriole, cardinal, song sparrow, mourning dove, mockingbird, and bobolink. Game birds include wild turkeys, partridge, ruffed grouse (the state bird), and geese.
Several types of salamanders, as well as a great variety of other amphibians, reptiles, and fish are found throughout the Allegheny Plateaus. Although most snakes in the state are harmless to humans, poisonous copperheads and rattlesnakes occur in some mountain and forest areas. Trout, perch, pike, bass, pickerel, and catfish are abundant in the state’s lakes and streams.
State and federal agencies collaborate in Pennsylvania to conserve and protect the environment. Pennsylvania’s two lead agencies in the environmental field were created in 1995 to replace the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is concerned primarily with regulatory matters. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources focuses on the management of land and wildlife resources. Federal agencies include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The restoration of Pennsylvania’s woodlands has been an environmental achievement. Unregulated commercial lumbering during the 19th century had virtually wiped out the state’s forests. In 1897 the state began to purchase forest reserves, an act that marked the beginning of its scientific forest conservation program. By the 1980s, with the rigidly controlled cutting and planting of trees, about 6.8 million hectares (about 16.8 million acres), or more than half the state’s land area, were again forested. Of this amount more than 1.7 million hectares (4.3 million acres) were publicly owned. In recent years, water pollution has presented mounting problems in Pennsylvania, as it has elsewhere in the nation. Vigorous cooperative action by the state and the city of Philadelphia has successfully cleaned up the badly polluted Schuylkill River, which supplies much of the city’s drinking water.
The Delaware River, another once badly polluted stream, demonstrates that water conservation is often a regional, rather than a state, problem. Pennsylvania shares the water of the Delaware with New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. In 1961 these states signed the Delaware River Basin Compact, which provided a long-range program to regulate and develop the water resources of the Delaware River basin. Lake Erie, which Pennsylvania shares with New York, Ohio, and Michigan, had become so badly polluted by industrial wastes and urban sewage during the early 1960s that it was called a dying lake. In 1965, the Lake Erie basin states and the federal government began to halt the lake’s severe pollution, and it has since made a significant recovery.
In 2006 Pennsylvania had 94 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people.
Pennsylvania benefited from a strategic location on the eastern seaboard, excellent inland waterways, and abundant natural resources, especially coal. All contributed to Pennsylvania’s economic growth. Farming, lumbering, mining, manufacturing, and trade were all important activities in early colonial times, as they are today. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and a great many smaller cities and towns led Pennsylvania’s economic growth. Pittsburgh became a mighty producer of iron and steel, while Philadelphia became a more diversified manufacturing center. Factories, coal mines, oil wells, stone quarries, timberlands, and farms gave Pennsylvania a greater degree of self-sufficiency than many countries.
Although a general exodus of both population and industry has occurred from states in the Northeast since the early 1970s, Pennsylvania has retained a strong overall economy and ranks high among the states in annual gross personal income. In 2006, 6,306,000 people were employed in the state. While today manufacturing remains an important sector of Pennsylvania’s economy, employing 11 percent of the labor force, by far the largest share of workers are now employed providing various services. Some 37 percent of the labor force is in the service sector, which includes such activities as business services, entertainment, education, law, health care, and recreation. Another 19 percent are employed in wholesale and retail trade. Of the remaining workers, 13 percent are employed by federal, state, or local government, including those serving in the military; 18 percent work in finance, insurance, or real estate; 5 percent in construction; 19 percent in transportation or public utilities; 2 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing; and less than 1 percent in mining. In 2005, 14 percent of Pennsylvania’s workers were unionized.
In 2005 there were 58,200 farms in Pennsylvania. Of those, 41 percent had annual sales of more than $10,000; the others were often sideline activities for operators holding other jobs. Farmland occupied 3.1 million hectares (7.7 million acres), of which about two-fifths was cropland. Most of the remainder was pasture.
|A1||Patterns of Farming|
The best farming areas are the counties of southeastern Pennsylvania, the Great Valley, and the fertile limestone and alluvial valleys of central Pennsylvania. Dairying is important throughout this area, and a wide variety of crops are grown. A single farm sometimes raises dairy cows, beef, poultry, hay, grain, fruits, and vegetables. Northeastern and northwestern Pennsylvania specialize in dairy farming, although fruits and vegetables are cultivated intensively near the shores of Lake Erie. Southwestern Pennsylvania has many dairy and truck farms.
The sale of livestock and livestock products accounts for 68 percent of Pennsylvania’s farm income, and the state ranks among the nation’s leading producers of milk, dairy products, poultry, and eggs. Dairying is carried on in all the farming areas of the state and predominates near some of the larger cities. While southeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania combine dairying with general farming, dairying is the chief agricultural activity in the northeast and northwest. Most dairy farmers also raise poultry, and many raise beef cattle. The extreme southwestern corner of the state, with its hilly pastureland, is noted as a sheep-raising district.
With a growing season ranging from three to seven months, Pennsylvania can produce a wide variety of crops. Although hay and corn are leading crops, their cash value is not especially high, because much of the hay and grain grown on Pennsylvania farms is used to feed livestock and poultry. Winter wheat, which is used to make a fine cake and pastry flour, is an important crop in the southeast. Buckwheat, which does not require a long growing season, is a major crop in the northeast. Other important crops include potatoes, oats, rye, barley, and a variety of truck crops.
There are two important orchard regions in the state. Apples and peaches are grown on the slopes of South Mountain in the southeast. Near the shore of Lake Erie, apples, cherries, and grapes are important crops. Because there is much less danger of frost near the lakeshore than farther inland, this area is well suited to fruit growing.
Pennsylvania also produces some interesting agricultural specialties. Around the towns of Avondale and Kennett Square, in the southeast, many farmers cultivate mushrooms inside sheds where light and temperatures can be controlled. Mushrooms have become an important crop for the state as a whole. They rank second in economic importance behind greenhouse and nursery items. Around York and Lancaster, also in the southeast, many farmers raise cigar-leaf tobacco, and this area produces much of the cigar filler grown in the United States. Tobacco is still a profitable crop. Because tobacco rapidly exhausts the soil, it is grown on only a small percentage of each farm’s acreage and is alternated with other crops. Maple-sugar processing and Christmas tree cultivation are important agricultural activities in some parts of the Allegheny Plateaus.
Pennsylvania’s first industry was lumbering. During the 19th century the state became the nation’s leading producer of commercial lumber. Virgin forests vanished, and a second and sometimes a third crop of trees disappeared into the sawmills. By 1900 the forests had become depleted, and the lumber industry had moved westward to other areas.
As a result of reforestation, however, Pennsylvania now supports a new lumber industry. Forest-related industries include the manufacture of lumber, pulp, veneer, furniture, and the processing of wood for chemicals. Tanneries use acids from tree bark to cure leather. Wood-chemical plants, which use small trees and brush after the larger trees have been cut, are located in the northwest. Although the industry is small, Pennsylvania is a leading producer of wood chemicals. Altogether the state’s forests, including forest-related industries, provide jobs for many thousands of people.
Pennsylvania has always ranked high among the nation’s mineral-producing states. It has enormous coal reserves and is the Industrial Age’s oldest producer of petroleum. Limestone, sand and gravel, clay, and peat are also mined or quarried in significant quantities. Fuels are of prime importance, however, and coal, oil, and natural gas made up about four-fifths of the value of the state’s mineral output in the late 1990s. Coal in particular has profoundly affected Pennsylvania’s economic development. It has long been an essential source of fuel for the state’s steel mills.
For more than two centuries, Pennsylvania has produced nearly all the anthracite coal mined in the United States and far more bituminous coal than any other state. For many decades the state led the nation in total coal production, but it now ranks fourth (behind Wyoming, West Virginia, and Kentucky).
The anthracite region, covering an area of less than 1,300 sq km (500 sq mi) contains the only anthracite deposits in the United States, with the exception of small areas in Colorado and New Mexico. This region lies in the eastern part of the Ridge and Valley. It consists of the Wyoming Basin in the north around Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, the Middle Field around Hazelton, and the Southern Field around Pottsville. Anthracite is an extremely hard, high-quality coal that burns with a clear flame and almost no smoke. Although in the past it was used extensively to heat homes and office buildings, it is little used for industrial purposes. With the increasing use of oil, gas, and electricity to heat homes and buildings, the demand for anthracite has steadily declined. From a peak production of nearly 90 million metric tons a year mined during World War I (1914-1918), the output of Pennsylvania anthracite dropped to 4 million metric tons a year in the late 1990s.
Bituminous coal, which is softer, easier to mine, and less expensive than anthracite, occurs widely throughout western Pennsylvania. Bituminous coal is ideal for an extensive variety of industrial purposes. Much has been used to make coke for the blast furnaces in iron and steel mills. Because of technological changes in transportation and industry, and a more recent decline in iron and steel production, the demand for bituminous coal has declined in the 20th century. Production in Pennsylvania dropped from more than 160 million metric tons a year during World War I to around 80 million metric tons a year beginning in the early 1970s. It was 65 million metric tons in the late 1990s.
Along with the declining demand for both bituminous and anthracite coal, mechanization of the coal-mining industry has accelerated. In 1975 there were only one-fourth as many miners in the state as in 1940. The resulting unemployment problems led to a large-scale exodus from the mining areas. From 1920 to 1960 the population of the anthracite region dropped from more than 1 million to less than 800,000. In the west many of the smaller mining towns were abandoned. The coal regions have attempted to attract new employment. In the area around Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, where a major battle for economic rehabilitation is being waged, manufacturing is now more important to the economy than mining.
|C2||Petroleum and Natural Gas|
The world’s first commercial oil well was drilled at Titusville, in northwestern Pennsylvania, in 1859. During the last half of the 19th century, Pennsylvania was the nation’s leading oil producer. Peak production was reached in 1891, with 31 million barrels. While the state no longer ranks high as an oil producer, its reserves are not yet exhausted. Oil wells produced 3.6 million barrels of oil in 2006.
While oil was once the chief product pumped from Pennsylvania’s ground, the value of natural gas extracted in the late 1990s was far greater than the value of the petroleum processed. In 2005 production of natural gas was 4.8 billion cu m (169 billion cu ft).
Limestone is distributed widely throughout southeastern and central Pennsylvania. It is used as a building stone, a source of lime, a flux in blast furnaces, and as an ingredient in Portland cement. Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s largest cement producers, and much of its output comes from an area north of Allentown in the Lehigh Valley. Slag, a waste product of the steel industry, is widely used in the manufacture of construction materials. Sandstone is found along the major stream courses, particularly in those regions that once were glaciated, and provides the raw material for the state’s glass-manufacturing industry. Clay is widely scattered throughout the state, with clay-products plants making such items as tile, sewer pipe, and heat-resistant materials for industrial furnaces.
Because of the wide variety of manufactures made in Pennsylvania, including basic industrial goods as well as consumer goods, the state was long known as the Workshop of America. This is less true today, however, because of major declines in the iron and steel and machinery industries. Until the 1980s primary metals industries ranked first in the state. In the late 1970s and first half of the 1980s the iron and steel industry was savaged by national economic recessions, high costs, aging equipment, and foreign competition. Many steel mills were permanently closed, and thousands of workers lost their jobs. Between 1977 and 1986, more than 100,000 jobs disappeared in the primary metals industries. Over the same period, 36,000 jobs disappeared in the machinery industry. By 1993 the manufacturing sector held 13 percent fewer jobs than ten years before.
The manufacture of electronic equipment has become the state’s leading industry. Firms making products such as communications systems, silicon wafers for semiconductors, and electronic components for engines have made Pennsylvania a leading high-technology manufacturing state.
The production of chemicals, principally pharmaceuticals, is the state’s second largest industry in terms of valued added by manufacturing. Other manufactures by biotechnology firms include medical devices.
Food processing is now the state’s third largest industry. Pennsylvania is the nation’s leading producer of chocolate and cocoa products and ranks high in the production of ice cream, potato chips, pretzels, sausages, and canned mushrooms.
Because the decline in the U.S. steel industry has been nationwide, Pennsylvania still makes more steel than any other state, and the primary metal industry remains a large contributor to the gross state product. The iron and steel industry originated in southeastern Pennsylvania near the state’s iron ore deposits. As coke, made from bituminous coal, replaced charcoal as a blast-furnace fuel, the industry moved westward to the Pittsburgh area. Here, bituminous coal was close at hand and iron ore could be shipped in cheaply from the Lake Superior region and abroad. Pittsburgh’s industrialized area later expanded throughout much of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Complementing Pennsylvania’s iron and steel industry are the factories distributed throughout the state that manufacture hundreds of metal products, including industrial machinery, farm implements, railroad cars and equipment, automobile bodies and parts, scientific instruments, tools and hardware, and metal pipes and tubing. Philadelphia is a major producer of fabricated metal goods, transportation equipment, electrical equipment, and all kinds of machinery. Metalworking plays an important role in the economy of the state’s smaller industrial cities and towns. Along with metal-products plants many industrial towns have clothing factories and textile mills that make yarns, fabrics, and rugs and carpets.
Other leading manufacturers in Pennsylvania include printers and publishers, with hundreds of firms publishing newspapers, periodicals, and books; paper manufacturers, with outputs such as corrugated boxes and sanitary paper products; and industries producing transportation equipment, including aircraft, railroad equipment, motor vehicle parts, and equipment for use in space.
The Philadelphia Metropolitan area, which has been the state’s chief manufacturing center since colonial times, has more than 7,000 factories that turn out an extraordinary array of products, with textiles, clothing, and metal goods leading in importance. Printing and publishing, petroleum refining, and sugar refining are also major industries. Pittsburgh is a major manufacturer of secondary metal goods, chemicals, glass and clay products, and processed foods. Other important industrial areas include Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, the tri-city area of Easton, Allentown, and Bethlehem, and the cities of Reading, York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Chester, Erie, Johnstown, Altoona, and Williamsport.
Of the electricity generated in Pennsylvania in 2005, 63 percent came from steam-driven power plants burning fossil fuels, mainly coal, and 35 percent came from nuclear power plants. In 2006 the state had 9 operating nuclear reactors. In 1979 a near meltdown of the core in a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg resulted in the shutdown of that reactor and, for a short time, the partial evacuation of nearby residents. Only 1 percent of the state’s electricity is generated by hydroelectric facilities.
Tourism is virtually the only industry in the Pocono Mountains, long a popular resort area. In the more rugged woodlands of the Alleghenies several summer and winter resort areas have been developed, including a number of ski resorts. In addition, Pennsylvania’s many historic sites attract millions of visitors yearly.
The state’s three major navigable waterways, the Delaware River, the Ohio River, and Lake Erie, have helped make Pennsylvania an important trade and transportation center since colonial times.
Philadelphia, with its excellent inland harbor at the upper tip of Delaware Bay, ranked 18th among U.S. ports in total tonnage in 1996. Petroleum and petroleum products, metal ores, and scrap are the port’s most important imports and its leading exports. Iron and steel materials, chemicals, fertilizers, paper, meat, and fruits and vegetables also rank high among the city’s imports, while other significant exports include chemicals, fertilizers, coal, and coke.
Pittsburgh, the chief trading center for heavily industrialized southwestern Pennsylvania, is one of the nation’s busiest inland ports. Because the Ohio flows westward toward the Midwest and the South, the entire inland waterway system of the United States is accessible to the Pittsburgh area.
Erie, the state’s third port of entry, gained access to world ports with the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, and has developed facilities to handle oceangoing vessels. Erie exports clay and manufactured products and imports sand and gravel, pig iron, and various minerals.
In 2004 Pennsylvania had more separate railroads than any other state, operating on track extending for 8,143 km (5,060 mi). Some 60 percent of the freight tonnage originating within the state was coal. In 2005 the state was served by a dense public highway network of 194,196 km (120,668 mi), including 2,829 km (1,758 mi) of federal interstate highways. The Pennsylvania Turnpike, the first superhighway built in the United States, stretches across the state. In 2007 Pennsylvania had 16 airports, most of which were private. Of the commercial fields, the airports in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were the busiest, between them serving nearly 16 million passengers a year.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA|
In the 2000 census, Pennsylvania ranked sixth in the nation after California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois with a population of 12,432,792. This represented a population increase of 3.4 percent from 1990. The state had a population density of 107 persons per sq km (278 per sq mi) in 2006.
When William Penn established his colony as a refuge for Quakers, he promised complete religious freedom to other oppressed minorities. As a result, the colony’s English Quakers were soon joined by such diverse groups as German Mennonites, French Huguenots, and Scots-Irish Presbyterians. Ever since, Pennsylvania has been home to an exceptional variety of nationalities and religions. During the early decades of the 19th century the increase of factories and mines in the state attracted large numbers of immigrants from the British Isles and northern Europe. They were followed later in the century by equally large numbers of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. During the 20th century, many blacks from the South migrated to Pennsylvania.
According to the 2000 census, whites constitute 85.4 percent of the state’s population, blacks 10 percent, Asians 1.8 percent, and Native Americans 0.1 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 3,417. People of mixed heritage or not reporting race were 2.7 percent of all inhabitants. Hispanics, who may be of any race, made up 3.2 percent of the population.
In 2000, 77 percent of Pennsylvania’s population lived in urban areas. More than three-fifths of all Pennsylvanians lived in the metropolitan areas of the state’s two largest cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Philadelphia has been Pennsylvania’s leading city since it was founded three centuries ago. With a population of 1,448,394 (2006), it ranked fifth after New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. Its metropolitan area, which had a population of 6,188,500 in 2000, sprawls over a large area of southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Recent renewal in Philadelphia has done much to restore that city’s historic grandeur. In addition to its importance as a seaport, commercial hub, and manufacturing center, Philadelphia is noted for its outstanding cultural and educational facilities. It has several colleges and universities, a renowned symphony orchestra, and numerous art galleries, museums, and historic sites.
Pittsburgh had a population of 312,819 (2006), and its metropolitan area was home to 2,370,800 people. Urban development stretches from the city out across the region’s river valleys and over adjacent hills. An urban redevelopment program, including strict smoke-control measures, transformed the city’s central business district in the second half of the 20th century. Besides its history as a center of iron and steel manufacturing and other industries, the city is notable today for its health care, higher education, and scientific research.
Pennsylvania’s other large cities, according to 2006 population figures, are Allentown (107,294), Erie (102,036), Reading (81,183), Scranton (72,861), Bethlehem (72,704), Lancaster (54,779), Altoona (46,954), and Harrisburg (47,164).
There are more than 100 different religious denominations represented in the state, with more than 7 million members. Religious groups with special historical significance include the Quakers, or Friends; the Presbyterian churches of the Scots-Irish; and the Lutheran, Reformed, Evangelical United Brethren, and other churches of the Pennsylvania Germans. The Roman Catholic Church also dates back to colonial days, and the first Jewish congregation was organized at Lancaster in 1776. In many mining towns, which often have large populations of eastern European derivation, the onion-shaped spires of Greek and Russian Orthodox churches are familiar sites.
The Pennsylvania Germans are often called the Pennsylvania Dutch, a corruption of Deutsch, which means “German.” Probably the state’s best-known ethnic group, they are descended from German farmers who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania beginning in the 17th century. Their neat, well-cared-for farms are especially numerous in Northampton, Berks, Lancaster, and York counties. The barns on Pennsylvania German farms often bear medallions that are traditionally known as hex signs. They have been variously explained as family or trade emblems, as good luck symbols, or merely as decoration.
Included among the Pennsylvania Germans are several religious sects, such as the Mennonites. Although members of these sects make up a small portion of the Pennsylvania German population, they are particularly well known because they tend to reject worldly concerns and cling staunchly to their old standards and manners. The Old Order Amish, an offshoot of the Mennonites, have refused to adopt such modern devices as automobiles and motorized farm machinery. The Amish can be easily recognized in many rural areas by their simple yet distinctive clothing and by their horse-drawn wagons.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
The Frame of Government drawn up by William Penn for the province of Pennsylvania in 1682 stipulated that the children of the province be instructed in reading, writing, and in “some useful trade or skill.” For more than 150 years, however, education remained primarily the responsibility of churches and private individuals. In 1834, the Free School Act provided for a statewide system of free elementary schools and for school directors, districts, and taxes. Since 1895, school attendance has been compulsory. At present all children from the ages of 8 to 17 are required to attend. Some 19 percent of Pennsylvania’s children attend private schools.
In the 2002–2003 school year Pennsylvania spent $10,445 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 15.2 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.9). Of those older than 25 years of age in the state in 2006, 86.2 percent had a high school diploma. The national norm was 84.1 percent.
In 2004–2005 Pennsylvania had 65 public and 195 private institutions of higher learning. The Pennsylvania State University in University Park is a land-grant university only partly supported by state funds. Other state-related universities include the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University, in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is made up of 14 universities that are fully owned by the state.
The University of Pennsylvania grew out of a charity school founded in Philadelphia in 1740. It is a private institution that receives some state support. In 1765 it opened the first medical college in the United States and thus became the nation’s first university. The University of Pittsburgh grew out of the Pittsburgh Academy, chartered in 1787. It became a university in 1819. Other leading schools include La Salle University and Drexel University, in Philadelphia; Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh; Bucknell University, in Lewisburg; Dickinson College, in Carlisle; Bryn Mawr College, in Bryn Mawr; Franklin and Marshall College, in Lancaster; Moravian College and Lehigh University, in Bethlehem; Albright College, in Reading; Arcadia University, in Glenside; Gettysburg College, in Gettysburg; Grove City College, in Grove City; Juniata College, in Huntingdon; Lincoln University, in Lincoln University; Ursinus College, in Collegeville; Widener University, in Chester; Haverford College, in Haverford; Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore; Villanova University, in Villanova; and Washington & Jefferson College, in Washington. Schools of the arts include the Moore College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, and the Curtis Institute of Music, all in Philadelphia.
The nation’s first circulating library, the Library Company of Philadelphia, was founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin and others. The Library Company is currently a research center with an outstanding collection of rare books and Americana. Pennsylvania has 451 tax-supported library systems, which annually circulate an average of 5.1 books for every resident. There are a great many more school and college libraries. The library systems of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh rank among the largest in the nation. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, has a notable collection of manuscripts, books, pamphlets, and periodicals dealing with Pennsylvania and U.S. history.
Outstanding museums in Philadelphia include the Franklin Institute Science Museum, which is devoted largely to advances in science and technology. The Academy of Natural Sciences is the oldest scientific institution of its kind. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is devoted to the study of humans and contains artifacts from ancient civilizations and from Native American tribes of North and South America. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, founded in Philadelphia in 1805 to promote the cultivation of the fine arts, is the nation’s oldest art institution. It possesses a fine collection of American art, ranging from colonial times to the present. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has outstanding collections of paintings, sculpture, and tapestries from Europe, America, and East Asia.
The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh include the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. The art museum features an international survey of contemporary art and the Heinz Architectural Center. The Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center opened in 1996. The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg specializes in the state’s history and archaeology.
Pennsylvania’s first newspaper and the fourth newspaper in the American colonies was the American Weekly Mercury, issued in 1719. By the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783), six newspapers were being published in the colony, including four in Philadelphia. The first U.S. daily newspaper, the Pennsylvania Post and Daily Advertiser, was issued in Philadelphia in 1783. In 2002 Pennsylvania had 84 daily newspapers, which had a total circulation of 3 million. The newspapers with the largest circulation in the state are the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
One of the world’s first commercial radio broadcasting station, KDKA, began operations in Pittsburgh in 1920. Pennsylvania’s first commercial television station, KYW-TV, began operations in Philadelphia in 1941. In 2002 Pennsylvania had 157 AM and 216 FM radio stations and 45 television stations.
|E||Music and Theater|
The Moravians who settled near Bethlehem and the people of the Ephrata Cloisters near Lancaster developed religious music in colonial Pennsylvania. The Orpheus Club, established in Philadelphia in 1759, is one of the first U.S. musical organizations. The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra have achieved international recognition. Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have several professional theaters, including the InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia and the Pittsburgh Public Theater. Summer theaters and community playhouses flourish throughout the state.
A remarkable concentration of medical and industrial research is carried on by universities, hospitals, corporations, and independent research organizations in the Pittsburgh area. Pittsburgh is also a center of nuclear research, and the nation’s first commercial nuclear power plant was built on the Ohio River just north of the city. The Carnegie Mellon University is a leader in robotics, computer science, software development, and other studies in fundamental and applied science. Pittsburgh hospitals are world renowned for their research on organ transplants.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
Pennsylvania has a wealth of historical shrines, numerous lakes and streams, and vast areas of mountains, forests, and picturesque countryside. An extensive system of state parks and recreation areas provides facilities for swimming, boating, camping, hiking, and picnicking. The state also administers many historical sites, monuments, and buildings.
The lakes and woodlands of the Pocono Mountains and the Delaware Water Gap, where the Delaware River has cut a spectacular gorge through the mountains in Monroe County, are probably the state’s most widely known sights. Other popular attractions include the 22 named water falls of Kitchen Creek in Ricket’s Glen State Park, west of Wilkes-Barre; the Pine Creek gorge, known as Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon, in Tioga County; the 110-km (70-mi) shoreline of the Pymatuning Reservoir on the Pennsylvania-Ohio state line; and Conneaut Lake in Crawford County, the state’s largest natural lake. Cook Forest in Clarion County contains Pennsylvania’s largest stand of virgin timber.
|B||National and State Forests|
The Allegheny National Forest comprises about 209,000 hectares (about 516,000 acres), and extends through parts of Warren, McKean, Forest, and Elk counties. State forest land covers more than 800,000 hectares (2 million acres).
Pennsylvania played a central role in the birth of the United States. Many of the state’s historical sites commemorate the events and people of the American Revolution (1775-1783). The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, in the State House in Philadelphia. In this building the Continental Congress met during the American Revolution, and there the Constitutional Convention gathered to frame the Constitution of the United States. Now known as Independence Hall, it houses a small museum of colonial objects and other objects of historical interest. The building, together with its adjacent mall and nearby pavilion housing the Liberty Bell, is part of the Independence National Historical Park. Another national historical park is at Valley Forge, northwest of Philadelphia, where George Washington and the Continental Army camped during the winter of 1777 and 1778. Fort Necessity National Battlefield, in Fayette County, is the place where George Washington and his Virginia militia encountered French forces in 1754. Pennsylvania also was the site of one of the major conflicts of the American Civil War (1861-1865). The Battle of Gettysburg, an attempt by the Confederates to win a major battle on Union soil and which marked the turning point of the Civil War, is commemorated by the Gettysburg National Military Park in southeastern Pennsylvania. Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh is the site of historic Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt. Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is a restored 19th-century iron-making village located near Pottstown in eastern Pennsylvania. The Daniel Boone Homestead was the frontiersman’s boyhood home near Reading. All across Pennsylvania, historical markers chronicle historical events and developments.
The diversity of Pennsylvania is shown in the range of festivals and events held annually in the state. The attention of the country is focused on Punxsutawney each February as the emergence of a groundhog from its burrow portends, according to lore, the number of weeks remaining of winter. Charter Day is celebrated each March at many of the state’s historical sites and museums, commemorating the granting of a charter to William Penn to found the Pennsylvania colony. The Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema screens an array of international and independent films during its two-week run in May. Some of the world’s best young baseball players step up to the plate each August during the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport. During December of each year Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, becomes Christmas city in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem in the Middle East.
|E||Sports and Recreation|
Pennsylvania has ample outdoor facilities for both summer and winter sports. Particularly popular are fishing, swimming, boating, hunting, hiking, and golf. Skiing is also popular; ski areas are concentrated in the Pocono Mountains in the northeast and the Allegheny Mountains in the southwest. Several professional sports teams are based in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, including the Philadelphia 76ers (basketball), the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins (ice hockey), the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers (football), and the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates (baseball).
|VII||GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS|
Pennsylvania is one of four states in the nation officially designated commonwealths (the others are Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Virginia). Pennsylvania has had four constitutions. The present one, which became effective in 1874, was substantially revised during 1967 and 1968. An amendment to the constitution may be proposed by the state legislature. After a majority of the legislature approves the proposal in two consecutive sessions, it is submitted to the people for ratification in a general election.
The executive branch of government is headed by the governor, who is elected for a four-year term. A governor may be reelected for one additional term. Also elected for four years are the lieutenant governor, state treasurer, attorney general, and auditor general. The governor, usually with the consent of the state senate, appoints the heads of numerous state departments and the members of various boards and commissions.
The legislative branch, called the General Assembly, meets each year on the first Tuesday in January. It consists of a Senate of 50 members and a House of Representatives of 203 members. The senators are elected for four years and the representatives for two years.
The state judiciary consists of a Supreme Court of seven justices, a superior court of ten, and commonwealth courts. All judges in the courts are elected for ten-year terms. On the local level there are judicial districts, usually corresponding with counties, and a variety of lower courts.
The 67 counties of Pennsylvania make up the basic local units of government. Most counties are governed by a three-member Board of County Commissioners, who are each elected for four years. Various other county officials also are elected. A few counties have adopted an executive form of government. Below the county level the state is divided into cities, boroughs, and townships. The 52 cities each have a population of at least 10,000 people and are governed by a mayor and a city council, elected for four years. In Philadelphia, which in 1854 expanded to include the whole of Philadelphia County, the city government has replaced the former county government.
By Pennsylvania law, a borough may become a city when it has reached a population of 10,000, but many eligible boroughs have not made this change because it requires a more expensive form of government. There are nearly 970 boroughs in the state, most of which are small urban communities. Boroughs are governed by mayors and councils, both elected for terms of four years. Some boroughs and townships have professional managers.
About 1550 townships cover most of the state’s land area and provide local government in suburban and rural areas. First-class townships are governed by township commissioners. Second-class townships are governed by township supervisors. The state has only one town, Bloomsburg, which received its special status by an act of the legislature.
Pennsylvania elects two United States senators and 19 members of the United States House of Representatives. It has 21 electoral votes.
Before Europeans arrived in what is now Pennsylvania, the area was inhabited by several major Native American groups. In the eastern river valleys lived Algonquian-speaking peoples, including the Delaware, who called themselves the Lenni Lenape, meaning original people. Along the Susquehanna River were the Susquehannock, a group who spoke an Iroquoian language. Originally living in the Wyoming Valley along the upper Susquehanna, the Susquehannock later moved to the lower Susquehanna River basin, until they were mostly absorbed into the Delaware and Iroquois in the 1670s.
Less well-known native peoples existed in the western part of Pennsylvania. In the late 17th century the Shawnee began to migrate into Pennsylvania, and in the early 18th century the Tuscarora and the Nanticoke passed through on their way north to settle among the Iroquois. By that time the Iroquois Confederacy, centered in what is now New York, had established dominance over most of the native groups from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the St. Lawrence River to the Tennessee River, including nearly all the native peoples living in Pennsylvania.
For many years, European settlers in Pennsylvania lived at peace with the native peoples, who exerted an important influence on the colony. William Penn, the founder of the colony, treated the Native Americans as equals and scrupulously paid for land received from the local chiefs. In a treaty negotiated in 1682 in Philadelphia, he established a peace and friendship that lasted half a century. Because the Native Americans aided the early settlers, Penn’s colony suffered no periods of hardship and starvation, which were common in other colonies. The native groups’ trails were the original routes by which traders and settlers reached the interior. But later conflicts, mostly over settlement of traditional native lands, forced the eventual migration of most Native Americans from the state.
|B||Early Explorations and Settlements|
Much of present-day Pennsylvania was originally included in the land grant for the Virginia colony given in 1606 to the London Company. About 1615 and 1616 French and Dutch explorers traveled parts of Pennsylvania. Étienne Brûlé of France claimed to have explored the Susquehanna River from the north, while Dutch Captain Cornelius Hendricksen sailed up the Delaware River to its junction with the Schuylkill River. The Dutch, with headquarters on Manhattan Island, established a trading post on the Schuylkill in 1633.
Swedes established the first permanent settlement in Pennsylvania. They had already founded a colony, New Sweden, on the western shore of Delaware Bay, and in 1643 they moved the colony’s capital to Tinicum Island near present-day Philadelphia. The Dutch captured New Sweden in 1655 in a contest over control of Delaware Bay and annexed it to their colony of New Netherland. In 1664 the British captured New Netherland, renaming the entire region New York. From this area the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware were later formed.
|C1||Founding of Pennsylvania|
The founder of Pennsylvania was William Penn, the son of the wealthy English Admiral Sir William Penn. The younger Penn was a rebellious youth who became a free thinker and joined the Society of Friends, or Quakers. When his father died in 1670, Penn inherited a sizable fortune, which he soon began to use to help his fellow Quakers escape religious persecution in England.
Penn helped create a Quaker colony in New Jersey, which encouraged him to seek a colony of his own. As payment of a debt the king owed to Penn’s father, Penn asked King Charles II for a portion of the New York colony. The king, happy to be rid of both the debt and the Quakers, consented. On March 4, 1681, the king signed a charter that made Penn proprietor of Pennsylvania, a name chosen to honor the elder Penn. The grant included much of present-day Pennsylvania. Penn later asked for and received the Lower Counties, now Delaware.
Calling his settlement the Holy Experiment, Penn promised religious toleration and participation in lawmaking to anyone who wished to settle there. In response to Penn’s advertisements, English, Welsh, and Dutch Quakers migrated to the colony. They settled much of the area within 40 km (25 mi) of Philadelphia, which was laid out in 1682 at Penn’s request by Thomas Holme, the colony’s surveyor general. Early in the 1700s a large influx of Germans arrived, many of them members of such persecuted religious groups as the Amish, Mennonites, and Schwenkfeldians, followers of Kaspar Schwenkfeld von Ossig, a dissident 16th-century theologian. They settled the rich farmland between Philadelphia and the Blue Mountains, a region that later became known as Pennsylvania Dutch country (Dutch was a corruption of the word Deutsch, meaning “German”).
Beginning about 1718, large numbers of Scots-Irish arrived, and by the 1740s they had settled the mountain valleys beyond the German belt. Many people from Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut also settled land that, after boundary adjustments, became part of Pennsylvania. The colony grew rapidly, from about 20,000 inhabitants in 1700 to 300,000 in 1776. Many different nationalities and religions were represented, but the major groups remained geographically separate, with the English in the east, Germans in the middle, and Scots-Irish in the west.
Penn first visited his colony in 1682. The capital had been established at Upland, which Penn renamed Chester. He later named Philadelphia, which was then under construction, as his capital.
By the terms of the king’s charter, the only limit on Penn’s authority in the colony was the right of a popular assembly to veto his laws. However, Penn was determined to bring the settlers into the government. His liberal Frame of Government, a written contract between himself as proprietor and the Pennsylvania colonists, was approved by the assembly in 1683, then revised that same year to give the settlers even more voice in the government. Under the new constitution, Penn shared the power to make laws with an elected council, which formed the upper house of the legislature. The assembly, or lower house, had the power to veto or approve laws proposed by the council. The Frame of Government guaranteed freedom of worship, protection of property, and trial by jury, and granted a role in government to Christian men over the age of 21 who possessed some property or paid a personal tax.
From 1692 until 1694, Penn’s right to govern the colony was revoked by the English monarchs, William III and Queen Mary, who doubted his loyalty. Penn had been a close friend of King James II, who had been overthrown and replaced on the throne by William and Mary. The royal governor of New York governed Pennsylvania as well until the monarchs were convinced of Penn’s loyalty and restored his authority.
Quarrels between the two houses of the legislature prompted Penn to alter the government in 1696, giving the assembly full power to initiate legislation. Finally, in 1701, Penn prepared the Charter of Privileges, which remained in force until 1776. Under the charter, the council ceased to have a part in legislation, and the assembly expanded so that it became more representative of the people’s interests. The assembly, independent of the governor, scheduled its sessions. The charter also allowed Delaware to form its own assembly, which it did in 1703.
After Penn’s death in 1718, his second wife, Hannah Callowhill Penn, controlled the colony until her death in 1727. Control then passed to three of Penn’s sons, John, Thomas, and Richard Penn. John Penn drifted away from Quakerism, and the other two sons joined the Anglican Church. In the 1730s the Quakers, who controlled the provincial assembly, began a political contest with the Penns that was to last for decades. They organized as the Antiproprietary Party and sought the support of the prosperous Germans. The Quakers refused to appropriate money for military defense, wished to tax the lands the Penns held as proprietors, and tried to convert Pennsylvania into a royal colony. The Penns, mobilizing their supporters into the Proprietary Party, demanded appropriations for colonial defense and formed an alliance with the Scots-Irish, who desired better representation in the assembly and protection from raids by Native Americans on the western frontier.
One of the major figures in Pennsylvania and early American history arrived in Philadelphia in 1723. Benjamin Franklin, a printer and newspaper editor from Boston, would soon become a powerful figure in the colony’s politics, as well as a noted author, scientist, and philosopher.
|C3||Expansion and Land Conflicts|
The powerful and highly organized Iroquois Confederacy, which acted as an overlord of other Native American groups in Pennsylvania, usually dealt with the colony’s leaders on issues that affected the Shawnee and Delaware. The colonists welcomed the Iroquois’s influence and saw them as an ally against the French in Canada during the 17th and 18th centuries.
In 1737 the Iroquois’s agent in Pennsylvania, Chief John Shikellamy, helped the Pennsylvania government take over much of the Delaware and Shawnee land in the so-called Walking Purchase, which granted the colonists a strip of land defined by how far a man could walk in a day and a half. By Native American custom, this meant about 50 km (30 mi), but the colonists used trained athletes to claim 100 km (60 mi), covering nearly all of the Delaware homeland. When the Delaware protested, the Iroquois humiliated them and told them to leave the region. Filled with resentment over the fraudulent land deal, many of the Shawnee and Delaware migrated to western Pennsylvania and Ohio and became allies of the French, who promised them a chance for revenge against the British and colonists.
In 1754 the Pennsylvania colonists signed another treaty with the Iroquois to purchase a large tract of land west of the Susquehanna. The land was occupied by the Shawnee, Delaware, and Seneca, one of the Iroquois tribes, but their protests were ignored. The two deals set the stage for the dispossessed native groups to join the French and attack the colonies in the French and Indian War (1754-1763).
|C4||French and Indian War|
From the late 1600s, France and Great Britain fought a series of wars for control of territory in North America. The last of these wars, called the French and Indian War, began on Pennsylvania soil in July 1754. As British traders and settlers pushed into the Ohio River valley, the French began building a chain of forts to establish control over the area. Virginia, which claimed some of the area, sent an armed force under the command of George Washington to expel the French. Washington was defeated at the Battle of Fort Necessity, near present-day Uniontown.
In the summer of 1755 British General Edward Braddock led troops to attack France’s Fort Duquesne, at the forks of the Ohio River. But the French and their Native American allies ambushed and defeated Braddock’s forces, which withdrew to Philadelphia. The French then persuaded the Delaware and Shawnee to seek revenge for their lost lands. The Native Americans attacked the unprotected Pennsylvania frontier, killing settlers, burning houses, and sending refugees flooding into eastern Pennsylvania. Facing this crisis, the colonial assembly approved funds for military defense. The colony built a line of forts from Easton on the Delaware River to Chambersburg in the Cumberland Valley. In September 1756 Colonel John Armstrong struck back, destroying the Delaware’s main village at Kittanning. In November 1758 General John Forbes ended French control of western Pennsylvania by capturing Fort Duquesne, which he renamed Pittsburgh. Under a peace agreement with the Iroquois, the colony gave back the land purchased in 1754, ending attacks by the Delaware and Shawnee.
The British defeated the French in 1760. Peace was made by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which gave Britain all of France’s North American territory. Colonial leaders and British officials promised the Native Americans that no more white settlements would be made in native lands west of the Appalachian crest, but the pledges were broken and settlements expanded. In an effort to drive out the British, the Ottawa chieftain Pontiac led an uprising in May 1763 by an alliance of many native groups. Pontiac’s forces captured all but 4 of 14 British forts extending from the Pennsylvania frontier to Lake Superior. Western Pennsylvania again suffered attacks, until Colonel Henry Bouquet defeated Native Americans at Bushy Run in August 1763.
In retaliation for attacks during Pontiac’s war, a group of colonists called the Paxton boys attacked a small settlement of Susquehannocks in 1763 at Conestoga, near Lancaster. Although these Native Americans had not taken part in the war, the Paxton boys massacred 20 old men, women, and children.
In 1768 a new treaty with the Native Americans was signed at Fort Stanwix, under which the native peoples sold their interest in lands west of the Allegheny Mountains. Many of them migrated west, leaving few Native Americans in Pennsylvania.
|C5||Movement for Independence|
To repay heavy debts from the wars with the French and to cover the costs of guarding the frontier, Britain passed laws restricting trade and imposing higher taxes in the colonies and began to enforce laws passed earlier (See also Navigation Acts, Sugar and Molasses Act, Stamp Act). These actions prompted growing protests in the colonies, but in Pennsylvania the issue was complicated by the continuing conflict between the proprietary government and its opponents in the Quaker-dominated assembly, who were now led by Franklin. For a time the assembly hoped to eliminate the proprietors by making the colony a royal colony, so protests against British taxes were not as strong as in other colonies. However, the farmers and frontiersmen of western Pennsylvania became increasingly radical and dissatisfied with the British and colonial governments, in which they had little voice.
Protests flared again after Parliament passed the Townshend Acts in 1767, imposing taxes on glass, tea, paper, and other imported products and strengthening royal authority over the colonies. Philadelphia lawyer John Dickinson published 12 popular essays that restated the colonists’ position that Parliament had no right to tax them, and colonists boycotted imported British goods.
The Townshend Acts were repealed in 1770, but Parliament retained the tax on tea to assert its right to tax the colonies. In 1773 Parliament passed the Tea Act, reducing the tax on tea shipped to the colonies so that the English East India Company could sell it in America and avoid bankruptcy. The colonists, however, refused to buy the English tea, both on principle and because colonial merchants feared the East India Company would put them out of business. Boston residents dumped tea into their harbor in the Boston Tea Party, and Philadelphians threatened to tar and feather the captain of the British tea ship Polly, forcing him to return to Britain with his cargo.
In the fall of 1774 Philadelphia, then the largest city in North America, was the site of the First Continental Congress, which assembled to protest British retaliatory laws against Massachusetts for the destruction of tea in Boston. The congress chose Dickinson to draft a formal colonial protest against British policy, although he and other moderates in Pennsylvania opposed a violent break with Britain. The radical forces that supported independence gradually took over Pennsylvania’s government in 1775 and 1776, and they organized action committees, established their own provincial conference, and mobilized the colony for war.
The Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia on May 10, 1775. Franklin, after 11 years as Pennsylvania’s agent in Britain, returned to the colony and served as a delegate to the congress. In June 1776 the radical provincial conference ordered Pennsylvania’s delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence. The Declaration of Independence, which Franklin helped to draft, was adopted on July 4 in the State House, now called Independence Hall.
At the same time, Pennsylvania’s provincial conference called a constitutional convention, which on July 11 assumed the responsibility for Pennsylvania’s government. A new constitution was adopted, which was seen as the most democratic yet in America. It gave the vote to all free white men who paid taxes, eliminating the requirement that voters be property owners. Representation in the one-house Assembly would be based on each county’s population, and an executive council replaced an appointed governor. The constitution also made Pennsylvania a commonwealth.
Pennsylvania’s first military action during the American Revolution occurred in 1776, when General George Washington’s army, retreating from New Jersey, set up quarters on the western bank of the Delaware River. On December 25, 1776, Washington recrossed the Delaware and defeated the British at Trenton, New Jersey. In the late summer of 1777 the British, under General William Howe, invaded Pennsylvania via Chesapeake Bay and marched on Philadelphia, then the national capital. Washington’s army was defeated at the Battle of the Brandywine on September 11. The Continental Congress fled from Philadelphia, first to Lancaster and then to York, where it remained until June 27, 1778. As the British advanced on Philadelphia, General Anthony Wayne of Pennsylvania attacked the British supply lines but lost his small troop of raiders in a surprise attack known as the Paoli Massacre.
British forces entered the city on September 27. Washington sought to dislodge them, but he was defeated in the Battle of Germantown on October 4 and retired to winter quarters at Valley Forge in December. During the Valley Forge encampment in the bitter winter of 1777-1778, hardship and rigorous training forged a dependable army and created a new spirit of national patriotism among the troops. In the following summer the British evacuated Philadelphia, the congress returned to the city, and the war moved from Pennsylvania to the South. The only remaining fighting in Pennsylvania took place along its frontier, where the British gained the support of many Native American groups and raided settlements. The bloodiest episode occurred at Wyoming in July 1778, where British-led Loyalists and Native Americans defeated a military force of settlers. Prisoners were tortured and killed, the settlements were burned, and the civilian population fled.
|E1||The Constitution of the United States|
By 1787 the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, which had been adopted as the basic law of the new republic in 1781, had become apparent, and a convention met in Philadelphia to organize a stronger national government. The convention erected the Constitution of the United States. When it was offered to the states for ratification, revolutionary leaders of Pennsylvania strongly opposed it because they still feared centralized government. However, the moderates in the state, who had gained power, succeeded in securing its passage, and on December 12, 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
Enthusiasm for the U.S. Constitution inspired a movement to write a new state constitution. The state constitution of 1776, created by colonists fighting against centralized authority, had established a government that lacked force and stability. It consisted of a unicameral legislature, elected annually, and an executive council that replaced the governor. The weaknesses of this structure had soon become apparent. In September 1790 a state convention proclaimed a constitution modeled on the federal document. It provided for a bicameral legislature and an elected governor, who had power to appoint judges and other officials, control the militia, and veto legislation. The governor could serve three terms of three years each. The basic structure of Pennsylvania government changed little after 1790. The constitutions of 1838 and 1874 altered only details.
Philadelphia had been the banking capital of the colonies before the American Revolution. Philadelphia merchants Robert Morris and Haym Salomon oversaw the financing of the war for independence, making loans and negotiating foreign subsidies. After the Constitution was ratified, Philadelphia served as the national capital from 1790 to 1800 and also as the financial center of the nation. The city was the headquarters for the first and second Banks of the United States, and the U.S. Mint was opened there in 1792.
|E3||Decline of Federalist Power|
Pennsylvania voters at first supported the Federalist Party, which advocated a strong federal government and organized the movement to draft the U.S. Constitution. But they soon turned against the party, especially after President George Washington sent troops to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion by western Pennsylvania farmers in 1794. The farmers, whose livelihood depended on growing grain and distilling it into whiskey, organized resistance when the federal government imposed a tax on the liquor. Putting down the rebellion marked the first test of the federal government’s law-enforcement power, but it alienated most of Pennsylvania’s Scots-Irish population. A similar deployment of troops, against eastern Pennsylvania Germans who resisted a property tax in Fries’ Rebellion of 1799, caused that group to ally with the Scots-Irish (see Fries, John). Together these groups became anti-Federalist, actively promoted the election of Thomas Jefferson as president in 1800, and put an end to the power of the Pennsylvania Federalists. Jefferson’s followers, the Democratic-Republican Party, dominated state politics so completely that two-party contests ceased. They were replaced by struggles between factions of Jefferson’s party, which came to be known simply as the Democratic Party.
Pennsylvania supported the war effort during the War of 1812 (1812-1815), fought between Britain and the United States over the maritime rights of neutral powers. Albert Gallatin, a Pennsylvania congressman and financier, served as secretary of the treasury until 1814, then played a prominent role in peace negotiations that ended the conflict. In 1812 the state capital was established at Harrisburg.
After the war, Pennsylvania’s Jeffersonian factions agreed on many issues: They supported high tariffs to protect American industries from competition, public aid for such internal improvements as roads and canals, and a federally chartered bank. They disagreed mainly about who should hold important offices. In the disputed presidential election of 1824, voters were split between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Jackon, who gained fame as a hero in the War of 1812, portrayed himself as a champion of the common people. Although Jackson won the most electoral votes in the election, no candidate won a majority, and Adams won the presidency when the issue was decided by the House of Representatives. Pennsylvania’s Jeffersonians then became two different parties, one favoring Adams and the other, stronger faction favoring Jackson, who won election as president in 1828.
When Jackson, as president, proved an enemy to internal improvements, higher tariffs, and the second Bank of the United States—which was based in Philadelphia—he ruined many local Pennsylvania politicians. By 1835 the Jacksonians lost control of state politics to a union of the Whig Party, whose purpose was to oppose Jackson, and the Anti-Masonic Party, which formed to oppose the influence of Freemasons in politics, claiming the fraternal group was antidemocratic.
In addition to Jackson’s antibank policy, a major issue that occupied Pennsylvanians during the 1820s and 1830s was building and managing a huge state-owned network of canals and railroads, the Pennsylvania State Works. In 1834 the state established a public school system.
|F||The Slavery Issue|
As in most Northern states, Pennsylvania had strong antislavery sentiments from the earliest days of settlement. The Quakers had sought to abolish slavery since 1688, and in 1780 the legislature outlawed slavery. Beginning in the 1840s, slavery became the dominant political issue in the nation, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia became centers of abolitionist activity. In 1838 abolitionists and other reform groups built Pennsylvania Hall, a meeting place dedicated to free speech, but proslavery rioters burned it down within days of its opening. In 1846 Pennsylvania Representative David Wilmot introduced in Congress an amendment, called the Wilmot Proviso, to exclude slavery from any territory acquired as a result of the Mexican War (1846-1848). The measure heightened tensions between Northern and Southern states and was later adopted by the Free-Soil and the Republican parties as a basic policy.
The Compromise Measures of 1850, passed by Congress to reconcile proslavery and antislavery factions in the country, included a strict Fugitive Slave Law that provided for runaway slaves to be returned to their masters. When a Maryland slave owner tried to use the law in 1851 to recapture several slaves in southeastern Pennsylvania, a conflict known as the Christiana Riot broke out and the slave owner was killed. The image of armed resistance to federal authority in defense of runaway slaves foreshadowed the larger national crisis of the American Civil War (1861-1865).
The Underground Railroad, a network of antislavery activists who helped fugitive slaves reach safety in the North, became more active in Pennsylvania, especially along the state’s southern border with Maryland, which was known as the Mason-Dixon Line. In 1854 Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which authorized creation of those two territories and had the effect of repealing the 1820 ban on slavery in new territories north of the Mason-Dixon Line, or parallel 36°30’ (see Missouri Compromise). This action so angered Pennsylvania abolitionists that they responded eagerly to the call for a new antislavery party. As in other states, slavery opponents in Pennsylvania held a mass meeting, which convened in Pittsburgh in 1855, to organize the Republican Party in the state. The first Republican national nominating convention was held in Philadelphia in June 1856.
In 1860 the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency. It was feared that a Republican could not win in Democratic Pennsylvania, so the Republican Party abandoned its name in Pennsylvania and presented Lincoln as the candidate of the People’s Party, capturing the support of many voters who would not have voted for a Republican abolitionist. Pennsylvania Republicans split into two factions dominated by rival politicians: Andrew Gregg Curtin, elected governor in 1860, and Simon Cameron, a U.S. senator.
Lincoln’s election and the continuing conflicts between the North and South over slavery and states’ rights led to the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861. Most Pennsylvanians, regardless of their party, vigorously supported the Union. Cameron became Lincoln’s first secretary of war. In 1862 Curtin played a leading role in the Altoona Conference, where Northern governors pledged to support a national draft. In addition to its militia, Pennsylvania supplied more than 375,000 men to the Union Army and Navy. Philadelphia financier Jay Cooke relieved the hard-pressed Treasury Department by marketing federal bonds, raising more than $1 billion in loans for the federal government during the war. Factories in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia produced huge amounts of heavy weapons and small arms.
Pennsylvania was the site of a major turning point of the war, the Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863. The battle, which left more than 23,000 Union casualties and at least 25,000 Confederate casualties, halted the Southern army’s invasion of the North and put it on the defensive. On November 19, Lincoln delivered his famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery near the battlefield.
|H||Industry and Labor|
From the time of its founding, Pennsylvania possessed a diversified economy. Its farmers made the state the breadbasket of the colonies. Milling, mining, printing, and shipbuilding were among the commonwealth’s early industries. Philadelphia expanded as a manufacturing center, producing cotton and silk textiles, iron machinery, and pharmaceutical chemicals.
Vast resources of coal, iron, and petroleum, combined with a transportation network, made Pennsylvania an important industrial state after the Civil War. In the 1840s railroads became the major means of transportation and an important industry, carrying coal and other products. By 1850 the Pennsylvania Railroad was the nation’s largest rail system and the world’s largest freight carrier. Its leaders wielded great power over the state legislature.
The face and economy of America were transformed after 1859 with the discovery of oil at Titusville in the state’s northwest corner. In addition to spurring regional growth, oil quickly led to the creation of the refinery industry and the development of multimillion-dollar corporations, especially the Standard Oil Company founded by John D. Rockefeller. By 1879 Rockefeller held about 95 percent of the country’s oil-refining capacity and controlled much of the world market for oil products.
A similar concentration of power prevailed in the iron and steel industry, which was dominated by Andrew Carnegie. After building the largest steel mill in the world near Pittsburgh, Carnegie created a business empire that controlled every phase of steel processing, from mines that provided raw material to ships and rail cars that delivered the finished product. He sold his company in 1901 to the newly formed United States Steel Corporation, which soon became the world’s leading steel producer.
As an industrial center, Pennsylvania played a major role in the development of the labor movement and became the site for some of the largest confrontations between giant companies and workers. Much of the labor for the steel mills and coal mines came from a wave of immigration after the Civil War, which brought about 25 million people into the United States by 1920. Earlier immigrants had come mostly from northern Europe, but after the war Russians, Italians, Poles, and other Eastern European laborers transformed the social fabric of the state. They faced dangerous work in the mines, steel plants and on the railroads, and often lived under harsh conditions controlled by their employers. Steel and oil-refinery workers often labored 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Joining together in unions, workers sought higher wages, shorter hours, and better working conditions.
Unions for specific skilled crafts developed early in the 1800s in the state’s larger cities. In 1869, a Philadelphia garment worker, Uriah S. Stephens, helped found one of the first major national unions, the Knights of Labor. It offered membership to workers of all trades and backgrounds and at its peak in the mid-1880s had about 700,000 members. Stephens was succeeded in 1883 as leader of the union by Terence Vincent Powderly, who also served as mayor of Scranton.
The first national strike in the United States occurred in July 1877. Shortly after cutting wages, the Pennsylvania Railroad ordered the running of more “doubleheaders,” trains with twice the normal numbers of cars but no extra workers. Rail workers in Pittsburgh refused to handle the trains, and the local militia, called out to break the strike, sided with the workers. A militia brought in from Philadelphia fired on demonstrators, killing about 20, and were attacked by an enraged crowd, which burned railroad buildings and looted cars. The strike spread to other railroads from Baltimore to Saint Louis, shutting down two-thirds of the nation’s track. The president repeatedly called out federal troops to restore order as riots occurred in Pittsburgh, Reading, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre. With no central organization, the strike ended by August, after hundreds of strikers and other people had been killed.
Another source of violence was a secret society named the Molly Maguires, formed after the Civil War by Irish immigrant coal miners. The group organized a campaign of violence against mineowners, police that were controlled by the companies, and others the miners considered their oppressors. In 1877 railroad executive Franklin B. Gowen used private detectives and an industry police force to smash the Molly Maguires. Two dozen of the group’s members were convicted of crimes and hanged.
Continuing problems in the anthracite coal area gave rise to the United Mine Workers union, which brought together skilled miners and immigrant mine laborers. In 1902 the union went on strike for five months, seeking higher wages and safer working conditions, while the mine owners refused to negotiate. The strike ended when President Theodore Roosevelt intervened, forcing the mine owners to accept arbitration and setting a pattern for nonviolent arbitration between labor and management.
In the steel industry, however, unions suffered a violent setback in the Homestead Strike of 1892 against a Carnegie-owned plant east of Pittsburgh. The company tried to cut wages and, when the union wouldn’t agree, locked workers out of the plant. The Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers then went on strike. The company hired 300 armed guards, and several people were killed in a violent confrontation. The governor called out the state militia, strikebreakers were brought in, and after nearly five months workers returned to the job. Another strike in 1919 included at its height about half the nation’s steel workers, but it also failed. The effort to organize steelworkers slowed until the 1930s.
One of the worst floods in the country occurred May 31, 1889, when a dam broke and sent a huge wall of water pouring through Johnstown, killing more than 2,200 people.
|I||Civil War to Depression|
The domination of Pennsylvania politics by the Democrats from 1800 to 1860 was followed by a long era of Republican Party control. Between 1860 and 1935, only one Democrat, Robert E. Pattison, served as governor (1883-1887, 1891-1895). By 1872 Simon Cameron had won command of the state Republican organization. After that date four successive U.S. senators from Pennsylvania managed the state party: Cameron, his son James Donald Cameron, Matthew Stanley Quay, and Boies Penrose. These men directed a political machine that dictated nominations and won elections with remarkable consistency.
In the early 1900s Pennsylvania, like much of the country, was influenced by the Progressive movement, which sought to curb abuses by governments and industry and to improve life for workers, the poor, and other groups. Reformers passed laws to clean up corrupt election practices, limit child labor in mines and factories, compensate workers injured on the job, and establish a civil service system.
From 1900 to 1910 Pennsylvania saw its largest population increase ever as immigrants continued to pour in from Europe. Large numbers of Southern blacks also migrated to Pennsylvania during and after World War I (1914-1918). Pennsylvania supplied more than 300,000 men for the armed forces during World War I, and its shipyards, mills, and factories provided a large amount of the nation’s war materials.
An important transition occurred in the early 1920s, when the rule by political machine ended and a moderate reform tradition took over. Boies Penrose, the last of the state Republican Party bosses, died in 1921. The following year the Republican reform candidate Gifford Pinchot, a conservationist and former head of the federal forestry department, was elected governor. Pinchot reorganized state government and intervened in strikes in the anthracite coal industry, helping miners achieve an eight-hour workday and higher wages.
A period of prosperity ended in the 1930s when the nation entered the economic hard times known as the Great Depression. Pennsylvania industries such as oil, steel, and coal suffered dramatic declines, and the steel and coal industries never again surpassed the production levels of the 1920s. By 1932 an estimated one-third of Pennsylvania families were on some form of relief. The state Democratic Party supported the relief efforts and economic programs of President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945), helping the party to win the governor’s office in 1934. When George Earle was elected governor that year, he became the first Democrat to hold that office since 1895 and only the second since the Civil War.
Western Pennsylvania became a major center of union activity in the steel industry in the late 1930s. Democrats in state and federal office were more sympathetic to organized labor than their predecessors, and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 guaranteed workers the right to form unions and bargain collectively. In 1937 the giant U.S. Steel Corporation recognized the union organization, and in 1942 the United Steelworkers of America union was formed.
|J||World War II|
Pennsylvania mobilized its people and industries to serve in World War II (1939-1945). About one-eighth of the population, 1.25 million people, served in the armed forces, and 33,000 were killed. General George C. Marshall, a native of Uniontown, was army chief of staff, and later served as U.S. secretary of state, playing an important role in helping to rebuild the economy of Western Europe. Pennsylvania shipyards produced and refitted hundreds of navy vessels, while the state’s factories produced shells, tanks, planes, armored cars, and guns. Black migration from the South increased again during World War II, and blacks came to represent almost 5 percent of the state’s population.
After a boom during World War II, Pennsylvania suffered economic decline. The demand for the state’s coal dropped, leading mines to close and large numbers of residents to move away from the mining regions around Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. Many textile workers lost their jobs when mills became automated or moved to Southern states, where labor was less expensive. The once-powerful Pennsylvania Railroad merged with another to become the Penn Central, then went bankrupt in 1970.
A strong two-party system has influenced much of 20th-century government in Pennsylvania. The Republican Party has controlled the governor’s office for much of the century, but power has been distributed more evenly between the major parties in the General Assembly. Political trends also reflect the growing divisions between rural and urban interests, and the ethnic and racial diversity of the urban population.
Since 1960 the Democratic Party has held a slight majority in the number of registered voters in the state. In the mid-1950s and 1960s Democrats George M. Leader and David L. Lawrence each served single terms as governor, and Democrat Milton J. Shapp was elected in 1970, holding the office until 1979. Following accusations of corruption in Shapp’s administration, Republican Richard Thornburgh, a former federal prosecutor with strong reform credentials, was elected governor for two terms beginning in 1979. A political moderate who later served as U.S. attorney general under President George Bush (1989-1993), Thornburgh was widely praised for his handling of a 1979 accident at the nuclear power reactor at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg. The accident, which threatened the release of radioactive gas, caused the temporary evacuation of nearby residents and led to stricter federal standards for nuclear-plant designs and emergency-response plans. Thornburgh was succeeded as governor by another moderate, Democrat Robert Casey of Scranton, who served until 1994.
Recent political debates in the General Assembly have often turned on fierce partisan loyalties, as well as differences between urban and rural representatives. Social and economic changes also have helped shape legislative battles of the last two decades. Pennsylvania has seen the continued decline of its coal, steel, and transportation industries, the disappearance of one in three farms, and the deterioration of urban areas. Although the steel industry was hit hard in the late 1970s and 1980s by recession and foreign competition, Pennsylvania continued to lead the nation in steel production. Food processing, manufacturing, and service industries have grown in importance to the state’s economy.
The 1990s brought a new style of political conservatism to Pennsylvania, ushering in a period of transition in state government. In 1994 Republican Rick Santorum defeated Democratic incumbent Harris Wofford in the U.S. Senate race, and Republican Tom Ridge won election as governor, both advocating conservative fiscal and social policies. Ridge supported stricter law enforcement standards, victims’ rights advocacy, and school choice as the state restricted funding of welfare programs and public education. Ridge resigned in 2001, in the middle of his second term, after President George W. Bush appointed him to head a new cabinet-level position, the Office of Homeland Security. Lieutenant Governor Mark S. Schweiker succeeded Ridge as governor. In 2002, however, the people of Pennsylvania elected Democrat Edward G. Rendell, former mayor of Philadelphia, as governor.
The history section of this article was contributed by Dennis B. Downey. The remainder of the article was contributed by James Charles Hughes.