Josiah Rhinehart Sypher.

School history of Pennsylvania, from the earliest settlements to the present time online

. (page 14 of 24)
Online LibraryJosiah Rhinehart SypherSchool history of Pennsylvania, from the earliest settlements to the present time → online text (page 14 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the country. Koads were opened between widely separated
settlements, churches were organized, schools were estab-
lished, factories were built, trade and commerce were ex-
tended, and the people, speedily recovering from the effects of
the war, became prosperous and happy.

* The Congress of the United States held its sessions in Philadel-
phia as follows :

1st Congress, 3d Session, Oct. 25th, 1790, to March 2d, 1791.






Oct. 24th, 1791, to March 2d, 1793.
Dec. 2d, 1793, to " 3d, 1795.
Dec. 7th, 1795, to " 3d, 1797.
May 15th, 1797, to " 3d, 1799.
Dec. 2d, 1799, to Nov., 1800.

9. What did Congress do? What did the people devote them-
selves to?




The State Government organized.^ — Administration of the
Supreme Executive Council.

1. At the beginning of the Kevolutionary war, Pennsyl-
vania was a province owned by the heirs of William Penn,
and governed by agents of the proprietors. When the Con-
tinental Congress, in 17 1 6, advised all the colonies to form
new governments that should be independent of the English
crown and foreign proprietaries, the people of Pennsylvania
entered without delay upon the work of reconstruction.
John Penn, the governor, was notified that his authority
was terminated by the action of the representatives of the
people ; and that any attempt to embarrass, or interfere with
public affairs, would result disastrously to himself and the
interests of his family.

Chapter XXIX. — 1. When did Pennsylvania enter upon the
work of reconstruction ? What notice was sent to John Penn ?


2. The first step taken by the Assembly was the appoint-
ment of a Committee of Safety, in June, 1775, of which
Benjamin Franklin was chairman; it had power to call the
associated troops into service, to pay and support them, and
to provide for defense against invasion and insurrection. On
the 15th of July,. 1776, a convention of delegates — eight from
each county, and representing all the people — met in Phila-
delphia, to organize a new government. Benjamin Franklin
was chosen president. This convention assumed complete
political control of the Province, and, on the 28th of Septem-
ber, completed its work by signing the constitution, which
erected the Province into an independent State. The Pro-
vincial Assembly expired on the 26th of September, and with
it perished the last vestige of proprietary authority in Penn-

3. The government was administered by the Committee
of Safety until March 13th, 1777, when, under the State
constitution, proposed by the convention and adopted by the
people, the Supreme Executive Council and the Assembly of
Delegates, organized in pursuance of its provisions, assumed
the direction of public affairs.

4. On the 5th of March, 1777, the Assembly and Council
met in joint convention, and elected Thomas Wharton, Jr.,
President of the Supreme Executive Council. The President
of Council was the head of the Executive Department, and,
therefore, chief ma.Gristrate of the State.

2. What committee was appointed? What power had the Com-
mittee of Safety? What convention met in 1776? What power did
it assume ? When was Pennsylvania made a State ? When did the
Provincial Assembly expire ?

3. What change was made in the administration?

4. Who was the first President of the Executive Council ? When
was Thomas Wharton elected chief magistrate ?


5. The first public act of the new government, after the
completion of its organization, was the appointment of a day
of solemn fasting, humiliation, and prayer, to be observed on
Thursday, the 3d of April ; this was the first day of fasting
under the authority of the Commonwealth.

6. The war department of the State was managed by a
Board of War, and the navy department by a Navy Board,
appointed by the Supreme Council. The meetings of Coun-
cil and of the Executive Boards were held in Philadelphia,
almost daily, until the approach of the British army after the
battle of Brandywine, when the public offices were moved to

7. The Supreme Council met in Lancaster on the 1st
day of October, Ittt. On the 13th of the same month, the
legislature passed an act authorizing the organization of a
Council of Safety, which was given full power to make and
enforce laws, and to provide for the defense and preserva-
tion of the Commonwealth. The Council of Safety was
composed of the Supreme Executive Council, and nine
other persons, appointed by the Assembly. The govern-
ment was administered by this body, until the 4th of De-
cember, IttT, when the Council of Safety was dissolved by
its own act, and the administration was restored to the
Supreme Executive Council.

8. On the 1st day of December, IT 78, Joseph Reed* was

* Joseph Keed was born in Philadelphia in 1742, and graduated at
Princeton College. At the commencement of the Revolutionary war,

6. "What was the first public act of the new government?

6. "Where were the meetings of Council held ?

7. When did the Supreme Council first meet in Lancaster? What
did the legislature authorize? Of whom was the Council of Safety
composed, and what authority did it possess?


elected President of Council, and served in that office until
November 14th, 1*781, when he was relieved by the election
of William Moore. John Dickinson* was President from No-
vember 1th, 1782, until October 18th, 1785; Benjamin Frank-
lin from October 18th, 1785, to November 5th, 1788; and
Thomas Mifflin from the end of Franklin's term until the
20th of December, 1790 ; when the Supreme Executive Coun-
cil and the form of government it administered, expired

he was appointed aid-de-camp to Washington, and the following
year was made adjutant-general. In 1778 he was chosen a member
of Congress. While in Congress a proposition was made to him by
commissioners from England, to secure his influence in favor of
Great Britain ; at another time he was offered £10,000 and the best
office in America if he would effect a reunion of the two countries.
To this base proposition he made the memorable and patriotic reply :
"/ a77i not worth purchasing; hut such as I am, the kwg of Great
Britain is not rich enough to do it." He was President of the Exec-
utive Council of Pennsylvania from December, 1778, to November,
1781. He died in 1785, aged 43 years.

* John Dickinson was born in Maryland in 1732. Studied law in
England, and made his first appearance in public life as a member of
the Pennsylvania Assembly. He was a member of the Stamp Act
Convention, and of the Continental Congress; he wrote the peti-
tion of Congress to the king, and was the author of several able
political papers, published during the Kevolution; was a member of
the convention that framed the Federal Constitution ; and President
of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania from 1782 until 1785. He
died in 1808.

8. Who were the presidents of the Executive Council from 1778
to 1790? When did this form of government expire?





The Constitution of Pennsylvania.

1. The organization of the State government as it now
exists, was planned and adopted by a convention of delegates,
which met in Philadelphia in 1790. The administration of
the Supreme Executive Council was then abolished, and a
constitution was adopted, under which the government was
reorganized and made more democratic.

2. In 1838, a convention of revision met in Philadelphia,
and again amended the fundamental law. The new Con-
stitution was signed by the officers and members of the con-
vention, on the 22d of February of that year (1838), and
has been, since the 1st of January, 1839, the supreme law of
the State.

3. The legislative power is vested in a General Assembly,
consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Chapter XXX. — 1. "When was the present organization of the
State government adopted?

2. When, where, and how was the Constitution revised?

3. How is the legishitive power organized?


4. The Representatives, apportioned according to the num-
ber of taxable inhabitants, are chosen annually, on the second
Tuesday of October, by the citizens of the Commonwealth,
The number of Representatives is limited to 100.

5. The Senators are chosen for three years, one-third
being elected annually, at the time of the election of Repre-
sentatives. The number of Senators cannot be less than
one-fourth, nor greater than one-third of the number of Repre-
sentatives. The General Assembly meets annually, on the
first Tuesday of January, unless sooner convened by order of
the governor.

6. The supreme executive power is vested in a governor,
who is chosen on the second Tuesday of October, and who
holds his ofiBce during three years from the third Tuesday
of January next ensuing his election ; the same person cannot
be elected more than twice in any term of nine years.*

7. The right of suffrage is allowed to every white freeman
of the age of 21 years, having resided in the State one year,
and in the election district where he offers his vote 10 days
immediately preceding the election, and having within two
years, paid a State or county tax, which shall have been
assessed at least 10 days before the election.

8. The judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court; in

* Under the Constitution of 1790, a governor might be twice re-
elected, and hold office nine years in twelve.

4. How are the Kepresentatives chosen? What is their number?

5. How are Senators chosen ? What is their number ? When does
the General Assembly meet ?

6. How is the governor chosen? How often may he be successively
re-elected ?

7. Who may vote?

8. What courts are established?


courts of Oyer and Terminer and General Jail Delivery, a
court of Common Pleas, Orphans' court, Register's court,
and a court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace for each county,
in Justices of the Peace, and in such other courts as the
legislature may from time to time establish.

9. In accordance with an amendment to the Constitution,
adopted in 1850, all judges are elected by the people.*
The judges of the Supreme Court are chosen at large, and
for a term of fifteen years. The president judges of the
several county courts are required to be learned in the law,
and are chosen by the electors of the districts over which
they are to preside, for a term of ten years. The associate
justices of the Common Pleas hold their offices five years.

10. The Constitution also declares that "the legislature
shall, as soon as conveniently may be, provide by law for the
establishment of schools in such manner that the poor may
be taught gratis, "f

11. No person acknowledging the being of a God, and a
future state of rewards and punishments, shall, on account of
his religious sentiments, be disqualified for office.

12. Imprisonment for debt is abolished, except in cases of

13. The Constitution also provides for the adoption of

* Previous to the adoption of this amendment, judges were ap-
pointed by the governor.

f No action was taken on this salutary provision until 1802.

9. How are the judges chosen? How long do they hold office?

10. What does the Constitution say of schools?

11. Who shall not be disqualified for office?

12. What of imprisonment for debt?

13. How may the Constitution be amended? What amendments
hare been adopted? /


amendments. A proposition to amend passed by any legisla-
ture and affirmed by a succeeding one, is then submitted to a
vote of the people at a regular election, and if approved by a
majority of the voters, it becomes part of the Constitution.
Amendments can be submitted only once in five years. In
this manner, in 1850, the judiciary of the State was made
elective, and in 1864 the right to vote was allowed to citi-
zens of the State, absent in the military service of the nation.

14. Under the authority of the Constitution of 1790,
Thomas Mifflin was elected Governor of the Commonwealth,
in October of that year, and was inaugurated at Philadelphia
on Tuesday, December 21st.* On the same day the legis-
lative department was organized by the meeting of the Senate
and House of Representatives in the State House.

15. At the close of the third term of Mifflin's administration,
in 1799, the seat of government was removed from Philadel-
phia to Lancaster, where Thomas McKeanf was inaugurated

* Under the Constitution of 1790, the governor's term began on
the third Tuesday of December. The legislature convened at tlie
same time.

•j- Thomas McKean was born in Chester county, March 4, 1734.
He studied law and was admitted to the bar in New Castle, Del.;
was a member of the Stamp Act Convention, was sent to the Con-
tinental Congress, by the two States of Delaware and Pennsylva-
nia, and was a member from its opening in 1774 until the signing
of the preliminary treaty of peace in 1783. In 1781, while Chief
Justice of Pennsylvania, he was also President of Congress ; he
held the chief justiceship twenty-two years. In 1799, he was elected

14. Who was the first governor under the new government?
"When was he inaugurated?

15. What was done at the close of Mifflin's administration? When
was Harrisburg made the capital?



governor, in December of that year. But, as the population
of the western and northern counties increased in number
and influence, there was a demand made to locate the State
capital permanently in some central place ; Harrisburg was
selected, and in October, 1812, the offices of the Common-
wealth were moved thither.

16. The corner-stone of the capitol at Harrisburg, was laid
May 31, 1819. The library extension, which was the last
addition made to the building, was completed in 186T.

governor of the State, and served, by re-election, until 1808. He died
in Philadelphia, June 24th, 1817.

16. When was the corner-stone of the capitol building laid?





Great Land Purchases. — Northumberland and Lycoming
Counties organized. — Pioneer Settlements West of the
Alleghany Mountains. — Burning of Hannastown.

1. In all treaties made with the Indians, Penn and his
representatives agreed, that no settlements of white people
should be established in any territory, that had not been pur-
chased from the natives by the proprietaries. These stipula-
tions were faithfully observed by the government, and peace
was preserved in the Province, until foreign influences and
the inroads of hostile tribes, involved the whole country in

2. The different parts of the Province were opened for
settlement by six great purchases. The first, under Penn's
authority, was made in 1682, and is known as the "walk-

Chapter XXXI. — 1. What agreement had Penn made with the
natives? How were these treaties observed?


ing purchase;" it extended along the Delaware above Phila-
delphia; the second was made in 1736, and included the
southeastern quarter of the Province; the third, made in
1749, comprised a narrow belt of land lying diagonally
across the Province from Pike to Dauphin county; the fourth,
made in 1758, comprised a tract lying west of the Susque-
hanna, from the great forks at Northumberland, southward,
to the southern boundary of the Province; the fifth and
largest purchase w^as made in 1768, and comprised an irreg-
ular belt of land extending from the extreme northeastern to
the extreme southwestern corner of the Province. This was
the last negotiation made under the proprietary authority.
A board of commissioners, appointed by the State, met the
w^estern tribes at Fort Mcintosh, on the Alleghany river, in
1785, and purchased the northwestern territory. By this
treaty the Indian title to Pennsylvania was wholly extin-

3. After the treaty of 1768, the territory thereby opened
to settlers was organized into counties. In the south, Bed-
ford county was erected in 1771; Northumberland county
in the central and northern part of the Province was estab-
lished in 1772.

4. The pioneers in Northumberland were English and
Scotch-Irish; but the Germans, who began to immigrate
about the beginning of the eighteenth century, are now in the

2. Describe the six great purchases which opened the Province to
settlement? When and how was the Indian title to Pennsylvania
wholly extinguished?

3. "When was Bedford county organized? When was Northumber-
land county organized?

4. Who were the pioneers in Northumberland county? When and
where was a mission established ? When and where did the govern-
ment erect a fort?


majority, especially in the southern part of the county. In
174T, the Moravians established a mission at the Indian town
of Shamokin; but the station was soon abandoned. In 1756,
the Provincial government of Pennsylvania erected a fort at
that place.

5. The territory within the limits of the county was part
of two different purchases from the Indians, made in 1749
and in 1768. Pioneer families came in from the Scotch-Irish
settlements of the Kittatinny valley, and from the Quaker
communities in the lower counties. When Northumberland
was erected into a county, March, 1772, Sunbury, the county
town, was laid out by the surveyor-general, who erected a
frame house on its site. A small garrison held the fort at
this place during the Revolution.

6. The treaty of 1768 also opened the valley of the West
Branch of the Susquehanna to lawful occupation. Several
years previous to this purchase, a hardy band of Scotch-Irish
adventurers had gone into this valley, then far beyond the
boundary of civilization, and formed a settlement on Lycom-
ing creek. When the country was declared open to the
white people, these pioneers obtained titles to their lands,
and their village became the center of a rapidly-growing com-

7. For seven years, the inhabitants enjoyed peace and quiet.
On the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, many of the
men took up arms in defense of their country, leaving their

5. When was Sunbury laid out? How was the place held during
the Kevolution?

6. How was the valley of the West Branch of the Susquehanna
opened to settlers? By whom was the settlement on Lycoming creek
begun ?

7. How were these settlers affected by, and what part did they take
in the Kevolutionary war? When was Lycoming county organized,
and what territory did it comprise ?


homes and families exposed to roving bands of savages from
the north. Stockade forts were erected along the river at
the principal settlements, and in these the women and chil-
dren often took refuge. In It 95, the territory northward to
the boundary of the Province, and westward to the Alle-
ghany river, was organized into Lycoming county, with the
seat of justice at Williamsport, which was laid out in the
same year.

8. An amusing but distressing blunder occurred on the
"West Branch, known in early history as the "big runaway."
A report was received that the Indians were preparing to
attack the settlements along the head-waters of the Susque-
hanna, and several families had been murdered. In the spring
of 17 78, Colonel Hunter, commanding at Fort Augusta, sent
orders to Fort Muncy that all the inhabitants in that vicinity
should take refuge at Sunbury. The messenger who carried
the orders, said "all the people must be out of the country
within a week." The settlers fled in haste and confusion.
Their flight down the river is thus described by a traveler:
"As I was rounding a point above Derrstown (now Lewis-
burg), I met the whole convoy from all the forts above; such
a sight I never saw in my life. Boats, canoes, hog-troughs,
rafts hastily made of dry sticks — every sort of floating article
had been put in requisition, and were crowded with women,
children, and 'plunder' — there were several hundred people
in all. Whenever any obstruction occurred at a shoal, the
women would leap out and put their shoulders to the flat-boat
or raft, and launch it again into deep water. The men came
down in single file on each side of the river to guard the
fleet. The flotilla arrived safely at Sunbury, leaving the en-

8. What was the "big runaway?"


tire line of farms along the West Branch to the ravages of
the Indians."

9. The several military expeditions sent across the mount-
ains, first against Fort Du Quesne, and after that in relief of
Fort Pitt, attracted the attention of the farmers and me-
chanics of eastern Pennsylvania to the rich valleys and navi-
gable streams west of the Alleghanies, and as soon as the
hostile tribes in that territory were subdued, many families
moved thither.

10. The French had taken possession of the Ohio valley,
as early as the year 1749. At about the same time, the Ohio
Company attempted to locate settlements on their lands south
of the Ohio river. The French erected forts and established
military posts on Lake Erie, on Le Bceuf river, and at Ye-
nango. The Ohio Company attempted to build a fort at the
junction of the Monongahela and Alleghany rivers, where
Pittsburg now stands, but their men were driven off by the
French troops. The Moravian missionaries also had pene-
trated the wilderness beyond the mountains, and had estab-
lished stations at Indian villages on the Conemaugh, and the

11. These were the first efforts made by the white race to
secure a lodgment in the territory comprised in western
Pennsylvania. The English and French, ever jealous of
each other's power, at once entered upon a contest for the
possession of the valley of the Ohio. Each party resolved
to expel the other from this beautiful country. They kept

9. What attracted the attention of the people to the country west
of the Alleghanies?

10. Who were in possession of the Ohio valley ? When and where
did the Ohio Company attempt to form settlements? Where did the
French erect forts ? "Where did the Ohio Company attempt to build
a fort? How far had missionaries penetrated?


up a petty frontier war during ten years, until 1*158, when
Fort Du Quesne fell into the hands of the proprietary gov-
ernment. The settlement of the western counties, therefore,
may be dated from that time. Forts had been erected at
Ligonier and at Loyalhanna, by the troops sent against
Fort Du Quesne, and now, that the country was in posses-
sion of the English and brought under the authority of
Pennsylvania, Fort Pitt was erected, at the junction of the
Monongahela and the Alleghany, in 1159. This was the
foundation of Pittsburg.

12. Small settlements collected about these forts, where
they were protected by the garrisons, and thus a permanent
foothold was gained in the vast wilderness. These were the
small beginnings of a population which, for intelligence, in-
dustry, and wealth, is now unsurpassed by any other.

13. Settlements were planted within the present limits of
Washington county in 17t2. A private fort was erected by
the pioneers in each little community, and when the country
was invaded by marauding parties of savages, the inhabit-
ants fled to the forts for protection. In some instances
the stockades were built so as to surround the cabins and
houses. Sometimes the outside walls of the cabins served
also as a wall of the fort.

14. Every settler was a soldier. The farmer went to the
field with his musket swung at his side, and the mechanic
kept his loaded rifle on his work-bench ready for use at any

11. Upon what contest did the English and French enter? How
long did this war last ? From what period may be dated the settle-
ment of the western counties? What forts were erected? Where
was Fort Pitt ?

12. What was the foundation of Pittsburg?

13. What settlements were made in 1772?

14. How did settlers protect themselves ?


moment. When a party of men went out to labor they
stacked their arms in a convenient place, and left a sentinel
to give the alarm in case of danger. At the approach of
an enemy, they would seize their rifles and run for the fort,
often fighting the Indians as they ran.

15. One of these little settlements on Buffalo creek, built a
fort consisting of a block-house and several cabins. To this
place, which was called Rice's fort, ten or twelve families

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Online LibraryJosiah Rhinehart SypherSchool history of Pennsylvania, from the earliest settlements to the present time → online text (page 14 of 24)