Where you're free to be you

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Why Visit Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is a beautiful and picturesque colony founded by William Penn. Located below New York and above Virginia, it's a member of the middle colonies. Its dense forests and many rivers make it ideal for any new settlement! With fertile soil and farms that range from 50-150 acres, it's easy to make a living on agricultural products. In addition, Pennsylvania home to a diverse and tolerant population, most notably the Quakers. These friendly neighbors tolerate anyone, regardless of religion! Finally, with an elected Assembly under a proprietor, Pennsylvania is the perfect place to escape the dreary persecution of the Old World and find new hope and prosperity. So visit Pennsylvania today and see why we're the colony where you can be you!

European Roots

Pennsylvania was first found by Englishman Henry Hudson, then followed by Dutch navigator Cornelius Hendrickson. Both Dutch and Swedish trading settlements were created, but competition over fur trade escalated after the 1640s. In September 1655, the Dutch retaliated and took over New Sweden. The area remained under Dutch rule until the English arrival in 1681. In the 1660s, the English took over the Dutch land, New Amsterdam, which included their claims in Pennsylvania. In 1682, King Charles II gave the land of Pennsylvania to William Penn, founding the colony of Pennsylvania.
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Pennsylvania is located below New York but above Maryland and Virginia. In addition, it shares borders with New Jersey and Delaware. While the soil in the middle colonies was not as rich as the southern colonies, it was still fertile and allowed for more agricultural exports than the northern, rocky-soiled colonies. In fact, Pennsylvania and the other middle colonies exported so much grain such as wheat, corn, and rye, that they became known as the Bread Basket Colonies. Another aspect of Pennsylvania's physical geography is that the many rivers such as the Susquehanna and Delaware allowed fur traders to easily transport goods and provided power for water wheels/mills. The dense forests of Pennsylvania and the Middle Colonies also supplemented the lumber, shipbuilding, and paper-related industries. Finally, iron ore was an important mineral in this area, and products such as kettles, tools, and nails were exported back to the Old World.

Who is Pennsylvania?

Type of Colony: Proprietary Colony

This kind of colony is one where the king granted full governing rights over some land to one or more proprietors. In this case, William Penn was the governing individual. The colony would then be run under a charter which the monarch would review.

Religion: Religious Tolerance

Pennsylvania did not have a specific "state religion". Penn created a colony based on religious tolerance, calling it a "Holy Experiment". This attracted religious sects who were persecuted; the largest population in Pennsylvania was the Quakers. These people were highly tolerant and were persecuted for not agreeing with the Puritan Church's strict ways. Their tolerance of other religions encouraged the immigration of other oppressed sects and increased the colony's overall diversity.

Colonial Government: Proprietor/Charter

The King signed a charter that named William Penn as the proprietor/governor of Pennsylvania. However, the colony was still under the protection of England's laws and was somewhat subject to England's government. Penn drew up the First Frame of Government that detailed his plans for the colony. He also created a General Assembly to amend the Frame, adopted humanitarian laws, and set in place a Quaker Province. From then on, the Assembly and the Quakers generally governed themselves.


Like the other middle colonies, Pennsylvania exported a lot of agricultural products, especially grain. Once ground in the many mills located on Pennsylvania's rivers, the flour was then sent to England. In addition, the fertile farmland of Pennsylvania allowed for grazing livestock to be raised and sold; for this reason, beef and pork were important food exports. Pennsylvania also engaged in other industries including lumber (which lead to paper and shipbuilding industries), fur, and iron ore, an important mineral found here.

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Major Events

1681: William Penn receives the charter for Pennsylvania from King Charles II. The King combines the Latin word for woods "Sylvania" with Penn's name to create "Pennsylvania".

1682: Penn arrives in Pennsylvania to lay out Philadelphia, create the original three counties, and establish the Assembly and law.

1684: The Congress names William Penn and his wife the third and fourth honorary citizens of the U.S.!

1701: Penn presents the Charter of Privileges which establishes total religious freedom and tolerance, cementing his desire for the colony to be a peaceful home for people of all religions. This is Pennsylvania's constitution until the Revolution.

1774-1775: The First and Second Continental Congress meet secretly in Philadelphia to discuss the British oppression and taxes. They seek to protest and begin the Revolution.

1776: The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.