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The Making of the 50 States: Pennsylvania


Part 2: The Rest of the Story

With the British victory in the French and Indian War, Pennsylvania was free to expand its already growing economy, which focused on manufacturing and agriculture. Crops like wheat and corn were popular exports, and sawmills and textile mills hummed with the production of many hard-working Pennsylvanians. Printing was also a large industry, as was construction. (In fact, the Conestoga wagon, which carried so many settlers west, was made in Lancaster County.)

The largest city in Pennsylvania was Philadelphia, which later served as the young nation's capital for a time. In 1740, an academy began giving classes. This became the University of Pennsylvania, the only nonreligious university in America. Philadelphia also had America's first hospital, first library, and first insurance company.

Because of the influence of William Penn, the Pennsylvania colony was open to many ideas, politically and religiously. Philadelphia, in particular, was a large urban center with all kinds of people doing all kinds of jobs and going to all kinds of churches (or none at all). Like people in other colonies, Pennsylvanians got used to doing things their own way. And when British measures like the Stamp Act arrived, Pennsylvanians were among the first to protest. Philadelphia, after all, had a large printing business. (Benjamin Franklin lived and worked there.) Pennsylvania also supported Boston when the Intolerable Acts were passed.

The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, at Independence Hall. The city was the capital of the new nation during the Revolutionary War. Two important battles were fought in Pennsylvania: Brandywine and Germantown. George Washington's famous winter at Valley Forge was in Pennsylvania.

The state also contributed a large amount of guns and money to the revolutionary cause, giving out loans to other states in the process. After the war, Pennsylvania industries grew stronger than ever, as more and more people moved to the state.

And when the Articles of Confederation proved unworkable and delegates gathered to discuss changes, they met in Philadelphia. This became the Constitutional Convention. Pennsylvania was proud to become the second state to ratify the Constitution.

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