Stories from PA History
Story Details
The Peopling of Pennsylvania: The Creation of a Multicultural Society
Since the arrival of its first human inhabitants some 15,000 years ago, Pennsylvania has evolved into a complex multicultural society made up of diverse peoples, cultures, and social habits. Through successive waves of immigration Pennsylvanians created a distinctive social world that influenced economic and political realities. This diversity has been the wellspring for mutual progress and sharp conflicts throughout the Commonwealth's history.

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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.

The Peopling of Pennsylvania: The Creation of a Multicultural Society
Chapter 1: Colonial Encounters
Chapter 2: A Not Too Stable Pluralism, 1790-1865
Chapter 3: Huddled Masses, 1865-1930
Chapter 4: New Arrivals, 1930-present

Historical Markers In the Story
marker icon Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. (Delaware) marker icon 9th Street Curb Market (Philadelphia)
marker icon Allentown [Peopling of Pa] (Lehigh) marker icon Anne Brancato Wood (Philadelphia)
marker icon C. Delores Tucker (1927-2005) (Philadelphia) marker icon Crystal Bird Fauset (Philadelphia)
marker icon David L. Lawrence (Allegheny) marker icon Groundhog Day (Jefferson)
marker icon John W. Coltrane (Philadelphia) marker icon Levittown (Bucks)
marker icon Martin Luther King, Jr. (Delaware) marker icon Opportunities Industrialization Centers (Philadelphia)
marker icon Potter County (Potter) marker icon Robert Lee Vann (Allegheny)
marker icon The Aaronsburg Story (Centre) marker icon York (York)

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

Story Bibliography

1492 Christopher Columbus's first voyage to the Americas
1500 1500s Susquehannocks begin migration from New York south into the lower Susquehanna Valley, displacing the "Shenks Ferry" people.
1607 Establishment of Jamestown, Virginia Colony
1608 Captain John Smith becomes the first European to sail up Susquehanna River.
1609 English navigator Henry Hudson becomes the first European to sail into the Delaware Bay.
1638 Sweden establishes the region's first permanent European settlement, called New Sweden, at Tinicum Island, on the Delaware River.
1655 New Sweden is taken over by the Dutch, who control the lower Delaware until the arrival of the English in 1681.
1681 King Charles II grants 45,000 square miles of North America to William Penn in a colony that he names "Penn's Woods" in honor of Penn's father.
1682 William Penn makes his first trip to his New World colony and drafts the Great Law, which grants all Pennsylvanians citizenship. In December, Thomas Holme creates a plan for Philadelphia, Penn's "greene country towne."
1683 First Germans arrive in Pennsylvania and establish themselves at Germantown. To attract Welsh settlers, William Penn establishes the 40,000-acre Welsh Tract.
1701 Penn issues his Charter of Privileges ,which grants Pennsylvania's legislature powers unknown elsewhere in the colonies.
1712 French Huguenots settle in Berks County.
1720 First Catholic congregation organized in Philadelphia
1722 Tuscaroras migrate from North Carolina to join the Iroquois in Pennsylvania.
1728 Presbyterian minister William Tennent opens the "Log College" in Bucks County to train Scots-Irish ministers in Pennsylvania.
1730 Pennsylvania's African slave population rises to 4,000.
1732 Conrad Beissel and his German followers establish the Ephrata Cloister near the banks of the Cocalico Creek in Lancaster County.
1736 Swiss Mennonite Brethren (Amish) settle in northwest Berks County and there establish the first Amish Mennonite congregation in America.
1740 The formation of Mikveh Israel, the first Jewish congregation in Pennsylvania
1741 Count Zinzendorf establishes the first Moravian settlement in Pennsylvania, which he names Bethlehem.
1754 Outbreak of the French and Indian War
1763 After the end of the French and Indian War, the Iroquois force the Delaware and other eastern Pennsylvania Indians to move farther west.
1764 Formation of the German Society in Philadelphia, the first German organization in North America, to address the plight of German "redemptioners."
1775 After the outbreak of Revolutionary War, Col. William Thompson of Carlisle organizes the first battalion in the colonies authorized by Congress. Most of the volunteers are Scots-Irish and Germans from counties west of the Susquehanna River.
1780 Pennsylvania becomes the first state in the new nation to pass a law for the gradual abolition of slavery. Most slaves are freed within 20 years, although a few remain enslaved into the 1840s.
1791 Seneca chief Cornplanter receives a land grant on the Allegheny River from the Pennsylvania government, just south of the New York border, where a small Seneca community lives on the only remaining American-Indian settlement in the Commonwealth until the late 1950s.
1793 Royalist refugees from the French Revolution set up a quasi-aristocratic French court in the woods of Bradford County in a settlement they call Azilum. Fleeing the slave rebellion in French Haiti, refugees, both black and white, arrive in Philadelphia.
1799 Lazaretto Quarantine Station opens on Delaware River south of Philadelphia; Father Demetrius Gallitzin erects the first Catholic church west of the Alleghenies in a settlement he names Loretto; Pennsylvania Germans in Bucks County stage armed resistance to a federal house tax in what becomes known as Fries's Rebellion.
1805 Three hundred Lutheran separatists from Wurttemberg, Germany, led by George Rapp, move to western Pennsylvania and establish the town of Harmony.
1807 Simon Snyder becomes the first person of German descent elected governor of Pennsylvania.
1832 Fifty-seven Irish railroad laborers die at Duffy's Cut near Malvern.
1838 The Pennsylvania Constitution disenfranchises black men.
1842 In a clash of newcomers to the city, Irish Catholics attack African Americans in a parade to commemorate the end of slavery in the British West Indies. The subsequent Lombard Street riots last for 3 days before quelled by local militia.
1844 Nativist mobs in Philadelphia attack several Catholic churches in Irish neighborhoods, and burn St. Augustine's to the ground; the Moravian Church abolishes the settlement system that had banned outsiders from moving into Moravian towns.
1845 Beginning of the Irish Potato Famine, which unleashes a wave of Irish immigration to Pennsylvania; the Native-American Party holds its first convention in Philadelphia.
1851 Concert violinist Ole Bull founds the ill-fated New Norway colony in Potter County.
1861 Outbreak of the American Civil War
1873 Opening of Philadelphia's Washington Avenue Immigration Station in Philadelphia, which by the time it closes in 1915 has served as the entry point for an estimated one million immigrants from Europe.
1875 Supreme Court rules that regulation of the nation's borders and of immigration is a federal matter.
1877 Great Railroad Strike leaves 26 dead in Pittsburgh; execution of the Molly Maguires in northeastern Pennsylvania.
1882 Passage of Chinese Exclusion Act ends Chinese immigration to the United States
1886 Dedication of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor
1891 Coal and Iron Police kill 9 immigrant miners during coal strike in what becomes known as the Morewood Massacre in Westmoreland County; Immigration and Naturalization Service is created to administer federal immigration law and prevent entry of illegal aliens.
1892 The federal government opens an immigration screening station at Ellis Island, New York.
1897 Coal and Iron Police gun down 19 Polish, Slovak, and Lithuanian marchers near Hazleton in what becomes know as the Lattimer Massacre.
1899 German Pennsylvanians in Punxsutawney establish the Groundhog Club.
1907 U.S. and Japanese sign a "Gentleman's Agreement" curbing Japanese emigration to the United States
1909 Led by the International Workers of the World, immigrant Slavic workers stage a five-week walkout at the Pressed Steel Company outside Pittsburgh.
1914 Outbreak of the First World War results in a sharp decline in European immigration to the United States and beginning of the first Great Migration of southern African Americans to Pennsylvania cities.
1917 U.S. enters First World War; Immigration Act expands classes of foreigners barred from entry to the United States.
1918 Pittsburgh Agreement calls for independent Czechoslovakia; Congress passes Anarchist Act expanding immigration exclusion and the expulsion of subversive aliens; competition for jobs and housing between southern migrants and white residents results in explodes into race riots in Philadelphia
1919 Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer unleashes a series of raids on suspected foreign subversives during what becomes known as the "Red Scare."
1921 Immigration Act establishes unprecedented limits on immigration to the Unites States.
1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Reform Act alters quota system to 2 percent of the number of people of that country that were living in the United States in 1890, thus favoring Western Europeans. The Asian Exclusion Act prevents Asian immigrants from qualifying for naturalization or land ownership.
1941 United States entrance into World War II unleashes a second great migration of southern African Americans who find employment in Pennsylvania's booming war industries.
1943 Congress repeals the 1887 Chinese Exclusion Act.
1948 The Displaced Persons Act allows war refugees to enter U.S. outside quotas.
1949 Forty thousand people attend a day-long celebration of religious and racial understanding in Aaronsburg, a town deeded in 1879 by Jewish founder Aaron Levy to local German Protestants.
1958 David Lawrence becomes the first Catholic elected governor of Pennsylvania
1959 Last Native Americans living on Indian-owned land in Pennsylvania are forced to leave the Cornplanter Tract to make way for a federal dam on the Allegheny River.
1964 African Americans riot in Philadelphia; In the next four years blacks in cities across the Commonwealth and the nation will also riot in protest of segregation and discrimination
1965 Immigration to the United States surges after repeal of the Immigration and Nationality Act ends 1924 quota system and gives priority to family reunification.
1970 Milton Shapp becomes the first person of Jewish descent elected governor of Pennsylvania.
1996 The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act strengthens border enforcement and establishes income level and sponsorship requirements for immigration to the U.S
2005 The town of Hazleton enacts local anti-immigration legislation; a federal judge issues restraining against its enforcement the following year.
2009 Trial of three teenagers in Shenandoah accused of 2008 death of Mexican immigrant attracts national attention.
c.15,000 BCE Earliest evidence of human habitation in Pennsylvania, located at Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Washington County, PA.
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