Pennsylvania is one of the oldest and richest of the eastern states. Its position in commerce and manufacturing is due largely to its geographical location. Extending from the estuary of the Delaware on the southeast to Lake Erie on the northwest and commanding, also, direct outlet by the Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico, Pennsylvania may justly claim advantages for internal and for foreign commerce second to none among the states of the Middle Atlantic group.
The richness of its mines, the wealth of its forests, the productiveness of its fertile valleys and the unrivalled scenery of its splendid mountains and broad plateaus make Pennsylvania one of the first states of the Union. Its boundaries are, on the north, Lake Erie and New York; on the east, New York and New Jersey; on the south, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia, on the west, West Virginia and Ohio. The Delaware River forms the entire eastern boundary. Area: 45,086 square miles. Population 7,665,111.
Many dates are set down as being “the first” in point of settlements made in Pennsylvania. Grants of territory for certain portions of the area now comprised within her boundaries were made, some as early as 1584, by Queen Elizabeth to Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1606 James I issued a patent to the London Company for lands between 34° and 41° N. In 1626 a trading-station was built. Swedes and Finns settled next year. In 1641 the English made a settlement on Schuylkill River. In 1632 Charles I issued a patent to Cecilius, second Lord Baltimore, which included all of Delaware and a considerable portion of southern Pennsylvania.
The first actual settlement seems to have been made by Johann Printz, who, with other colonists, in 1643 founded New Gothenburg on Tinicum Island. On March 4, 1681, William Penn secured a grant of land west of Delaware River, lying between 40° and 43° and extending five degrees west. In this grant Penn was given full rights both as to the ownership and to the government of the land. Many difficulties grew out of the conflicting claims, but in 1763 all boundary difficulties were adjusted. The Mason and Dixon line was established. A provincial congress first met in July, 1774, in Philadelphia. A provincial convention in 1775 authorized the preparation of defence for the colony. Pennsylvania's first state constitution was drawn on Sept. 28, 1776.
In this provision was made for a supreme executive council, one legislative house and a board of censors. An insurrection known as the Whiskey Rebellion, suppressed in 1794, grew out of a difficulty with the Scotch-Irish regarding the excise tax. Pennsylvania's part in the Civil War was most exemplary. Under President Lincoln's call for volunteers, April 5, 1861, 25 regiments were formed in less than one month. Her borders were invaded three times, twice at Chambersburg and once by General Lee's army when the decisive battle of the war was fought at Gettysburg. In 1877 great railroad riots occurred. In 1895 a law making education compulsory was approved. In 1901 a department of forestry was established, in 1903 a department of state highways. In 1902 a strike kept 147,000 miners of anthracite out for five months.
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Surface. All the mountains are parts of the Appalachian system. Yet the state may be studied under four distinct divisions. The first, the Piedmont Belt, includes that part of the state between Delaware River and the Blue or Kittatinny Mountains. The second and third divisions, the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Valley, lie wholly within the main Appalachian system. Throughout this region are found many rugged mountain-walls forming gaps or narrows. The Susquehanna and the Delaware break through this chain. The Delaware, cutting diagonally across the Appalachian system, forms the famous Delaware Water-Gap. In this division is found also the famous Mt. Pocono region, now a summer playground for hundreds of tourists. The fourth division begins a little west of the center of the state, and consists of a series of high, rolling tablelands or plateaus known as the Allegheny Plateau. The entire western section of the state, from 1,000 to 1,500 feet above sea-level, is everywhere broken by short, fertile river-valleys. Blue Knob in Bedford County, with an altitude of about 3,136 feet, is believed to be the highest point in the state.
Climate. The climate is varied. Those portions lying southeast of the mountain ranges are considerably warmer than the more elevated and western uplands. In Philadelphia the mean temperature for January is about 30 degrees, and for July 76.2 degrees. For Wilkes-Barre, among the mountains, the corresponding figures are 26 and 71 degrees; for Pittsburg 31 and 76 degrees; and for Erie 26 and 70 degrees. In some sections summer heat is prolonged into the autumn and at times reaches 107 degrees, while in the northern and more elevated regions the cold of winter reaches 35 degrees below zero. The average annual rainfall is 44.5 inches, which is very evenly distributed. The growing season for any section of country depends upon the earliest and latest killing frosts. In Pennsylvania these extremes vary from five or six months in the northern parts to six or seven months in the southern section.
Natural Resources. Pennsylvania easily leads all other states in value of mineral products. Fully half of all coal mined in the United States comes from the Keystone State, and (in money value) about one sixth of all the mineral products of the country is taken from within its borders. The entire Appalachian bituminous coal-fields embrace about 71,000 square miles. About 18,000 square miles belong to Pennsylvania. Its anthracite fields cover about 500 square miles additional. In the northern and western parts are large deposits of natural gas and petroleum. Iron, in the forms of magnetite and brown hematite, is found in great quantities. Other minerals include zinc, cobalt, nickel, lead, copper, tin, chrome, salt and soapstone. Besides these, excellent brick and fire clay, white marble, slate and many other varieties of building-stone are found in almost inexhaustible quantities. The plateau region, with the middle section of the state, was originally covered with dense pine and hemlock forests. Then, too, there was a great abundance of white oak, hickory, chestnut, walnut and cherry in the lower altitudes. Pitch-pine, maple, beech and black and yellow birch were found in the middle altitudes, while still higher up were large quantities of black and red spruce, balsam, fir and larch. About 23,000 square miles are still counted as forested, and in some limited areas one may still find considerable virgin forest. A state forestry commission is now operative, and active measures are being taken to restore and more carefully preserve the forests. Fully 600,000 acres have already been set aside for this purpose. About 1859 petroleum was first known to exist in subterranean reservoirs. In August, 1859, the first boring was begun and after 22 days, at a depth of 69 feet, oil was “struck.” In the 30 years between 1860 and 1890 fully 1,000,000,000 barrels of petroleum were taken from Pennsylvania's wells. The production averages 13,000,000 barrels a year, the third largest amount in the Union.
Manufactures. Pennsylvania has ranked second in the United States in manufacturing industries since 1850. The manufacture of iron and steel is the most important industry. Two factors contribute to this preëminence: First, the great wealth of raw materials within the state and; second, the state's advantageous conditions for marketing its products. The mills at Johnstown and at Steelton are the largest Bessemer steel mills in the world. The money value of Pennsylvania's annual production of iron and steel is estimated at $430,000,000. Besides the iron and steel industries, Pennsylvania has large interests in the manufacture of tin and tin-plate and ship-building. In the manufacture of textiles Pennsylvania ranks second. Carpets, hosiery and knit goods, cotton and woolen goods and silk and silk-goods are produced in large quantities. The introduction of natural gas as a fuel is partly responsible for the great industrial activity of the state. In the manufacture of glass, the puddling of iron and the roasting of ores this fuel far surpasses any other. In the manufacture of coke and its by-products Pennsylvania leads all the states. In 1910 about 26,000,000 tons were produced, fully three-fourths of which came from the Connellsville district. In 1909 the total value of the products turned out by all the industries of the state was upwards of $2,626,000,000. The state's rapid growth in population is also largely due to her constantly increasing industrial activity. In the last half-century the population has increased from about 2,500,000 to over 7,665,000. The increase in the number of wage-earners was in the ratio of about one to six.
Education. In all departments of education Pennsylvania has been most progressive. The thought of her earliest settlers seems to have been to give careful heed to the educational welfare of her children. Penn's constitution provided that the governor and provincial council should “erect and order all public schools,” and the laws agreed upon in England provided that “all children within this province of the age of 12 years shall be taught some useful trade or skill.” The first English school was opened in Philadelphia by Enoch Flower in 1683. The first school established by Penn was the Friends' public school, opened in 1689 and chartered in 1697. This school has been continuously in operation, and is now known as William Penn Charter School. In 1743 Benjamin Franklin drew a plan for the Academy and Charitable School of the Province of Pennsylvania. This was renewed in 1749, and subsequently developed into the University of Pennsylvania which to-day is one of the leading institutions in the United States. To-day the state's constitution requires that efficient public schools be maintained for the education of all children above the age of six years. The free-school act dates only from 1834, yet to-day the total annual appropriation to the public schools fund is $15,000,000. The public school system is organized under a state superintendent of public instruction, assisted by directors elected by the people, and for each county a superintendent of public schools elected for three years by these directors. In 1910 there were about 1,800,000 children between five and 18 in the state, and about 1,282,965 were enrolled in the public schools. In 1910 there were approximately 900 high schools and 55 private secondary schools. Pennsylvania is divided into 13 state normal school districts, each having its own school for the training of teachers. The state agricultural college is at State College. It provides free tuition in agriculture and the mechanic arts to residents of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, besides state schools, has about 40 schools classed as colleges and universities. At Carlisle, Pa., is the largest and best equipped school in America for the education of the Indian. This school was founded by Gen. R. H. Pratt, and under his supervision was in all respects the most efficient institution for the education of the Indian.
Agriculture. In some parts of Pennsylvania are to be found some of the most fertile valleys in the United States. About 65 per cent, of all the state's area is included in farms, and of this about 68 per cent, is improved. There are approximately 220,000 farms, fully 75 per cent. of which are operated by the owners. In the production of corn Pennsylvania yields more than twice as much as New York and of wheat four times as much. Her wheat-crop for 1907 exceeded 30,000,000 bushels. In the production of oats and rye the state is one of the heaviest producers. Potatoes are one of the chief money crops, New York alone of all the eastern states exceeding Pennsylvania in acreage and production. In 1910 only New York and Iowa exceeded Pennsylvania in the acreage and production of hay. Tobacco is also a profitable crop. In 1910 there were raised 49,500,000 pounds, valued at $4,603,500. All the farms, including their improvements and buildings, have an approximate value of $1,041,068,755. If we add the value of the implements, machinery and live stock, we have a grand total of $1,253,274,862. In fruit and stock raising Pennsylvania has, in recent years, come strongly to the front. In orchard-products she ranks third, and in live-stock stands fifth. Pennsylvania's farmers are coming to realize that one of the most profitable sources of money is found in the raising of poultry. The state stands sixth in the value of poultry and third in egg production.
Transportation. Most of the canals have long been out of use. In railroading little was done prior to 1848, and yet Pennsylvania had 1,000 miles of railroads. In 1906 it had 11,290 miles, exclusive of 4,343 more in street or elevated electric track.
The New Student's Reference Work (1914) pp. 1446-1448.