Pennsylvania has three major river systems, the Delaware, the Susquehanna, and the Ohio. 1609 - Henry Hudson claims much of the region for the Dutch. 1812 - The state capital moves to Harrisburg. Johan Printz of the colony of New Sweden established his capital on Tinicum Island (New Gothenborg) in 1643. Only the Delaware River on the east and about 40 miles of Lake Erie in the northwest corner form natural boundaries. 99201, Copyright © 1998-2020 | Online Policies | Site Design By: Zipline Interactive. One of the original thirteen colonies, Pennsylvania is today surrounded by the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio. State and federal agencies keep streams and ponds well stocked, and trout, salmon and, walleyed pike are caught in large numbers. In the southern region, white oak, American chestnut, hickory, and chestnut oak dominated. P.O. In the west, the Ohio River begins at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela, and its tributaries include the Youghiogheny, Beaver, and Clarion Rivers. 1787 - Pennsylvania ratifies the Constitution and becomes the 2nd state. Tribes of the Ohio River valley lived in the central and western parts of the state. The Delaware, or Lenni Lenape, occupied the Delaware valley; the Susquehannock were in the lower Susquehanna River valley; the Erie and various groups of the Iroquois Confederacy—Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Oneida—were in northern Pennsylvania. 1863 - The Battle of Gettysburg occurs. To the east of this section is the Great Valley, which is divided into southern, central, and eastern sections - the Cumberland, Lebanon, and Lehigh valleys, respectively. The Susquehanna has north and west branches as does the Juniata River. In the southern region, white oak, American chestnut, hickory, and chestnut oak dominated. It has a land area of 44,820 square miles and 735 square miles of the area of Lake Erie. The century that followed was a period of great expansion and turmoil for Pennsylvania. During the next 70 years, roads were improved and extended, canals were built, farm equipment was mechanized, and railroads spanned the state, all combining with the economic strength of the thrifty Philadelphians to make Pennsylvania a major commercial power. 1775 - The Second Continental Congress meets, creating the Continental Army with George Washington as the leader. The higher lands have only three to five months free from frost. The first (1774) and second (1775–76) Continental Congresses met in Philadelphia; the Declaration of Independence was signed there; and after the war the city became the capital of the short-lived Confederation and of the fledgling U.S. government. Overview of Pennsylvania's role in the American Civil War. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The frost-free period, for example, is longest in southeastern Pennsylvania, in the Ohio and Monongahela valleys in southwestern Pennsylvania, and in the region bordering Lake Erie. These tribes included the Shawnee in the southwest, the Susquehannock in the south, the Delaware in the southeast, and the Iroquois (Oneida and Seneca tribes) in the north. For many Pennsylvanians, the period following these conflicts marked growing dissatisfaction with British rule. 1608 - English explorer Captain John Smith sails up the Susquehanna River. When Penn returned to England in 1684, the new Quaker province had a firmly established government based on the people’s will and religious tolerance. Europeans Arrive. Other Europeans, primarily the Dutch, established trading posts within Pennsylvania as early as 1647. Traveling up the Delaware from a settlement at the present site of Wilmington, Del., Gov. The Ohio system provides thirty-five percent of all the water emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. William Penn intended that the colony provide a home for his fellow Quakers (members of the Society of Friends). Through advanced agricultural methods, a large part of Pennsylvania soil which was only marginally fertile has been made very productive. Davis on Negro Mountain in Somerset County which has an elevation of 3,213 feet above sea level. William Penn, as proprietor of Penn's Woods, was an aggressive and active promoter of his new land. The charter, which was officially proclaimed on April 2, 1681, named the territory for Admiral Penn and included also the term sylvania (“woodlands”), at the son’s request. A rivalry between the Dutch and the Swedes led Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Netherland, to seize New Sweden in 1650. Because much land was later cleared by settlement and by lumber operations, very little virgin timber remains, but even today half the state is wooded. Washington Penn arrived in 1682 and called a General Assembly to discuss the first Frame of Government and to adopt the Great Law, which guaranteed freedom of conscience in the colony. The land of Pennsylvania was inhabited by Native American tribes long before the first Europeans arrived. [Return to top], Cayuse Canyon, LLC At Gettysburg the Union army achieved one of the decisive victories of the war, against a Confederate force led by Gen. Robert E. Lee. In the northern plateau area the original species were white pine and hemlock, mixed with beech and sugar maple. Elsewhere borders are based on those established in the charter granted to William Penn by King Charles II of England, although it was 1787 before land and border disputes with other states were settled and Pennsylvania took clear title to its land. First oil well in the United States, built in 1859 by Edwin L. Drake, Titusville, Pennsylvania. Outposts such as Fort Pitt (Fort Duquesne under the French; now Pittsburgh) became settlements vital to the flow of trade from the opening lands to the west. Others are fire clay, iron ore, lime, slate, and stone. It is the turning point of the Civil War. At the time of European settlement, the Native American population was small and widely scattered. Originally Pennsylvania was a transition zone between northern and southern primeval forests. Today, deer, pheasants, rabbits, ducks, and turkeys are popular with hunters. Pennsylvania's highest peak is Mt. 1701 - The Charter of Privileges is signed by William Penn establishing a government. Further to the east is a line of discontinuous mountains, as well as lowlands of irregular form and a deeply dissected plateau of moderate height which gradually slopes to the Delaware River. 1774 - The First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia. The state has a great variety of soils, ranging from extremely rich in Lancaster County to very poor in the mountain regions. By the eve of the American Revolution, Pennsylvania had become a centre of military, economic, and political activity. Confederate prisoners during the American Civil War, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. While still in England, he drew up the first of his “frames of government” and sent his cousin, William Markham, to establish a claim to the land and also to establish the boundaries of what became the city of Philadelphia. There are minor climatic differences within the state because of altitude and geological features. A dissected plateau covers Pennsylvania's northern and western sections, ranging from about 2,000 feet above sea level in the northern tier of counties to about 1,200 feet south of Pittsburgh. State History. In March 1681 Charles II of England signed a charter giving any unoccupied regions to William Penn in payment of a debt owed by the king to Penn’s father, Adm. Sir William Penn. Limitations on westward expansion, especially as established by proclamation in 1763, were imposed to pacify the Indians, but Pennsylvanians pressed westward over the Allegheny Mountains. Native Americans. Its interior included land that was claimed by the French, and, as time went on, the Indians became increasingly hostile to the expansion of settlements to the west and north. The first of these species is now extinct, the second has been exterminated, and the last two are no longer abundant. 1731 - The first U.S. library is opened by Benjamin Franklin. "The country itself," he wrote, "its soil, air, water, seasons and produce, both natural and artificial, is not to be despised." Originally Pennsylvania was a transition zone between northern and southern primeval forests. A broad belt of wide valleys, alternating with narrow mountains, stretches across the state from the south-central boundary to the northeast corner.