The Keystone State, as it was referred to due to its central location among the thirteen colonies of the United States prior to its independence. Pennsylvania has special significance with respect to the nation's independence, with documents such as the Declaration of Independence being signed here.
Economically, it was among the first few states to capitalize on industrialization, with extensive Conestoga wagons and rifles being manufactured in the north, and cash crops like jute and tobacco being cropped extensively in the fertile south.
It was also famous as the Quaker State, in recognition of the nation's First Frame of Government, by William Penn being announced here. The guarantee of 'liberty of conscience' freed the citizens from the routine show of hostility during an era when oath-taking and war and military service were imposed upon the people of colonial Pennsylvania.
The Story of Pennsylvania
A step back in time, into the colonial Pennsylvania, begins with the earliest Dutch and Swedish influence on the land and its people. The Spanish colonized the state during the 1600s. The colony was then referred to as L'arcadia or the 'wooded coast'.
Later, the Dutch invasions, and explorations of Henry Hudson, witnessed the establishment of the Dutch West India Company. This made the Dutch the first Europeans to occupy the land. By 1638, the arrival of the Swedish, then a major colonizing power in Europe, was inevitable.
The establishment of the New Sweden Company and subsequent colonization lasted till the late 1600s. Around this time, the Native Americans were being forced into sale of land by the British settlers. The transaction bagged by William Penn, under the auspices of Charles II of England in 1681, resulted in the purchase of Pennsylvania.
The western part of the land was disputed territory, shared by the French, British, German and Scotch-Irish immigrants. Pennsylvania's history is rife with protests and demonstrations of varying degree throughout the struggle for independence. The early 1700s witnessed atrocities associated with and defiance to the '1763 Proclamation' and the 'Stamp Act'.
Pennsylvanians openly supported the cause of independence from colonial rule by sending delegates to the Stamp Act Congress as well as the first Continental Congress. They even played host to the Congress in 1765, in the city of Philadelphia.
After the May 1776 elections, the state was chosen for the convene, a meeting that culminated in the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, George Bryan and James Cannon further helped the denizens of the state to draft their own 'state constitution'. However, the September 1776 polls decided against the draft.
Finally, on December 12, 1787, Pennsylvania ratified the US Constitution, becoming the second state after Delaware to do so and a new state constitution was adopted in 1790. During the American Civil War, it was targeted by the Confederate States Army cavalry raids.
Pennsylvania also witnessed the famous Battle of Gettysburg, near the south-central region of Gettysburg. Thereafter, the state seemed chosen for landmarks in American history like the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln and the early 19th century oil rush.
Europeans, Asians and Latin Americans began immigrating to the state all through the 19th century. Factories, coal mines and steel mills dominated the scene during most part of the Depression until the 1930s.
Today, Pennsylvania is recognized as one of the wealthiest states in the US. From manufacturing to service industries and health-care to tourism, Pennsylvania has come a long way and has carved a niche for itself.