History of Pennsylvania

The history of Pennsylvania began in 1681 when William Penn received a royal charter from King Charles II of England, but human activity in the region precedes that date.

One of the original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn as a haven for his fellow Quakers. Pennsylvania’s capital, Philadelphia, was the site of the first and second Continental Congresses in 1774 and 1775, the latter of which produced the Declaration of Independence, sparking the American Revolution.

When first discovered by Europeans, Pennsylvania, like the rest of the continent, was inhabited by groups of people of Mongoloid ancestry long known as American Indians. Today they are proudly designated the Native Americans. The culture reflected their Stone Age background, especially in material arts and crafts.

The rise of nation-states in Europe coincided with the age of discovery and brought a desire for territorial gains beyond the seas, first by Spain and Portugal and later by England, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Wars in southern Germany caused many Germans to migrate eventually to Pennsylvania.