Stories from PA History
Story Details
Pennsylvania and the New Nation
From 1783 to 1800, Philadelphia was the capital of the New Nation (except for 1789-1790 in New York), and the great issues that faced the country also centered in the Keystone State. Two problems both existing governments struggled to solve were promotion of the general welfare–especially economic prosperity– and opening the west to settlement.

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Overview: Pennsylvania and the New Nation
Chapter 1: From Confederation to Constitution: Political Developments 1776-1788
Chapter 2: Federalist Era, 1789-1800
Chapter 3: The Settlement of Western Pennsylvania
Chapter 4: The Whiskey Rebellion

Historical Markers In the Story
marker icon Arthur St. Clair (Westmoreland) marker icon Demetrius Gallitzin, Catholic colony of Loretto (Cambria)
marker icon Erie Triangle (Erie) marker icon Fort LaFayette [New Nation] (Allegheny)
marker icon General William Irvine, Donation Lands (Warren) marker icon George Washington, Covenanter squatters (Washington)
marker icon Greene County (Greene) marker icon Harmony Society Church (Beaver)
marker icon Judah Colt (Erie) marker icon Mason-Dixon Line (York)
marker icon Mercer County, Donation Lands (Mercer) marker icon National Road (Somerset)
marker icon Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike Road [New Nation] (Chester) marker icon Walking Purchase (1) (Bucks)
marker icon Warren County [Indians] (Warren)

Lesson Plans for this Story
Take your students back in history with these discussions and activities for the classroom

Story Bibliography

Original Documents
icon full text The Treaty of Greenville, concluded August 3, 1795.

1782 Pennsylvania secures its northeastern borders when Congress awards it lands previously claimed by Connecticut.
1783 The Peace of Paris ends the Revolutionary War.
1783 The Pennsylvania Line of the Continental Army mutinies and then chases Congress out of Philadelphia. Congress did not return to the city until 1785.
1784 Pennsylvania forces New York Iroquois to give up all claims to territories within the state.
1784 American soldiers recruited to fight off Indian attacks in Pittsburgh revolt against their officers.
1785 The Commonwealth begins the distribution of 600,000 acres of newly acquired "donation" lands to pay veterans for their services during the Revolutionary War.
1786 Pennsylvania settles its southwestern border disputes with Virginia.
1787 Fifty-five delegates from twelve states (the exception being Rhode Island) convene at the Pennsylvania State House and draft a new federal Constitution.
1787 Richard Allen and Absalom Jones help form The Free African Society in Philadelphia.
1789 George Washington is elected President of the United States.
1790 Little Turtle and 150 Miami, Wabash, and Shawnee warriors defeat Pennsylvania troops under the command of General Josiah Harmer in the Ohio Valley.
1790 Federalists replace the problematic 1776 Pennsylvania state constitution with a more traditional frame of government.
1791 Founding of the First Bank of the United States, in Philadelphia.
1791 The devastating defeat of General Arthur St. Clair and his 2,100 troops defeated by Indians near present-day Fort Recovery, Ohio, opens western Pennsylvania to Indian attack.
1792 Purchase of the Erie Triangle extends Pennsylvania to its current boundaries.
1792 George Washington is re-elected as President of the United States.
1792 Pennsylvania Federalists persuade the state to authorize private funding for the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, redirecting commerce with western Pennsylvania that would have otherwise gone to Baltimore.
1793 The Genet Mission to Philadelphia increases tensions between Republicans and Federalists after war breaks out between England and France.
1794 Western Pennsylvania farmers begin armed resistance to the federal excise tax on distilling and sale of alcohol in what becomes known as the Whiskey Rebellion.
1794 General Anthony Wayne's victory against Ohio Valley Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in present day Indiana ends the threat of Indian return to western Pennsylvania.
1794 Dedication of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the nation's first African-American church.
1795 The Pinckney Treaty with Spain opens the Mississippi River to American commerce and fuels the growth of Pittsburgh.
1796 John Adams is elected President of the United States.
1797 President John Adams and his Federalist government authorize the creation of an American Navy, starting with the frigate USS Constitution, or "Old Ironsides," which is constructed in Philadelphia.
1798 Passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts enables the federal government to deport undesirable aliens and imprison critics of federal officials and policies.
1799 The death of former President George Washington.
1799 Russian prince-priest Demetrius Gallitzin founds Loretto, a Catholic colony, in Cambria County.
1799 The state capital moves from Philadelphia to Lancaster.
1799 "Fries Rebellion," a protest against federal property taxes in southeastern Pennsylvania, is suppressed by the Pennsylvania militia.
1800 Pennsylvania Governor Thomas McKean threatens to send Pennsylvania militia to install Thomas Jefferson as President of the United States, if the electoral college votes in favor of John Adams.
1800 National capital moves from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
1805 German pietists form the Harmony Society in Butler County, Pennsylvania.
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