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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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Bring this subject into focus through the following chapters. These stories take exploration of the main story further by providing more detail for you to learn and explore.

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 National Funeral for President Washington (Philadelphia) marker icon Arthur St. Clair (Westmoreland)
marker icon Azilum (Bradford) marker icon Benjamin Franklin [New Nation] (Philadelphia)
marker icon Benjamin Rush [New Nation] (Philadelphia) marker icon Benjamin Smith Barton (1766 -1815) (Philadelphia)
marker icon Boehm's Chapel (Lancaster) marker icon Bonnet Tavern (Bedford)
marker icon Bower Hill (Allegheny) marker icon Bradford House (Washington)
marker icon Charles Willson Peale (Philadelphia) marker icon Demetrius Gallitzin, Catholic colony of Loretto (Cambria)
marker icon Dr. David Ramsay (Lancaster) marker icon Erie Triangle (Erie)
marker icon Espy House (Bedford) marker icon Fort LaFayette [New Nation] (Allegheny)
marker icon Fort Pitt (Allegheny) marker icon Fraunces Tavern (Philadelphia)
marker icon Free African Society [New Nation] (Philadelphia) 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 Indiana County [George Clymer] (Indiana)
marker icon James Forten (Philadelphia) marker icon James Wilson (Cumberland)
marker icon John Dickinson (Dickinson College) New Nation (Cumberland) marker icon Joseph Priestley (Northumberland)
marker icon Judah Colt (Erie) marker icon Kahal Kadosh Mikveh Israel (Philadelphia)
marker icon Mason-Dixon Line (York) marker icon Mercer County, Donation Lands (Mercer)
marker icon Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church (Philadelphia) marker icon National Road (Somerset)
marker icon Pennsbury (Bucks) marker icon Pennsylvania Abolition Society (Philadelphia)
marker icon Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike Road [New Nation] (Chester) marker icon Philip Ginter (Carbon)
marker icon Rev. John Corbley (1733-1803) (Greene) marker icon Rittenhouse Farm (Montgomery)
marker icon Robert Whitehill (Cumberland) marker icon Samuel Meredith (Wayne)
marker icon Summerseat (Robert Morris) (Bucks) marker icon Tadeusz Kosciuszko (Philadelphia)
marker icon The Fries Rebellion of 1799 (Bucks) marker icon Thomas McKean [New Nation] (Chester)
marker icon Thomas Mifflin [New Nation] (Berks) marker icon Timothy Matlack (Montgomery)
marker icon Walking Purchase (1) (Bucks) marker icon Warren County [Indians] (Warren)
marker icon Washington County (Washington) marker icon Whiskey Point (Albert Gallatin) (Washington)
marker icon William Findley (Westmoreland) marker icon William Maclay (Dauphin)
marker icon Yearly Meeting of Friends (Philadelphia)

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 Articles of Confederation, 1777
icon full text Pennsylvania's Gradual Abolition Act of 1780
icon full text Robert Morris, Circular sent to Governors of the States about Incorporation of The Bank of North America, 1782.
icon full text Prizes proposed by the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, the 14th of February, 1786.
icon full text Preamble of the Free African Society, 1787
icon full text James Wilson, excerpt from his Defense of the Federal Constitution, 1787
icon full text Address of the Minority Members of the Pennsylvania Legislature in Opposition to the Federal Constitution, 1787.
icon full text Benjamin Rush, from "Thoughts upon Female Education," 1787
icon full text Benjamin Franklin speaking about the new federal Constitution at the Convention in Philadelphia, 1787.
icon full text Contemporary Description of Pennsylvania, By A Pennsylvanian, 1788
icon full text "The Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of The State of Pennsylvania to their Constituents," 1788.
icon full text Opposition to an Excise Tax on Liquor, By the Inhabitants of Westmoreland County, PA, (1790)
icon full text The Pennsylvania State Constitution of 1790
icon full text The House of Representatives, "A Protest against the Passage of an Excise Tax," 1791
icon full text Petition against the Excise Tax By Inhabitants of Western Pennsylvania [Penned by Albert Gallatin], 1792
icon full text Absolom Jones and Richard Allen, On Black Philadelphians' Conduct During the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793-1794
icon full text The Democratic Society of Pennsylvania, "Principles, Articles, and Regulations," May 30, 1793
icon full text Tench Coxe, On the manufactures and commerce of Pennsylvania, 1794.
icon full text President Washington's Proclamation Calling for a Militia to Quell the Whiskey Rebellion, 1794.
icon full text President George Washington's Address to General Henry Lee at Bedford, Pennsylvania, October 20, 1794.
icon full text George Washington's address to Congress on the Whiskey Rebellion, November 19, 1794.
icon full text "Condemnations, Defenses, and Society Attacks on the Excise," 1794
icon full text Petition to President Washington by Citizens of Philadelphia in Protest of the Jay Treaty of 1795.
icon full text The Treaty of Greenville, concluded August 3, 1795.
icon full text Petition against the Alien and Sedition Laws signed by 98 citizens of Northumberland County, PA, 1798.
icon full text Address of the Young Men of the City of Philadelphia, the District of Southwark, and the Northern Liberties, May 1798
icon full text John Dickinson, "Ode, On the French Revolution," 1798
icon full text Protest Against the Sedition Act published by William Duane in the Philadelphia Aurora, July 14, 1798.
icon full text Three Views of Fries's Rebellion, 1799-1815.

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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