More than half of American history took place before 1776, but after 1492. For Philadelphia, Colonial history lasted about a century.
When William Penn landed in 1683, he found about 900 white people already living here. That's quite a little town, mostly composed of Swedes and Dutch. The British monarchy had already taken care of the political problems, relieving the pacifist Quaker settlers from the awkwardness of military disputes.
Problems with the Indians were greatly eased by finding the rather un-warlike tribe of Lenni Lanapi inhabiting the region, fitting right in with the determination of Penn to treat the Indians fairly. The swampy region between the Delaware and Hudson Rivers had a lot to do with making English settlement come fifty to eighty years later than to the rest of the Atlantic coast. Penn had time to consider the mistakes of the earlier settlers, the vast abundance of wilderness land to share, and the folly of imposing culture and religion on primitive people against their wishes, which proprietors in neighboring colonies had discovered to their cost. Furthermore, land was cheap and Penn had rather deep pockets. He had bought the land from the King of England, but he bought it a second time from the Indians, sometimes a third or fourth time.
He gave strict orders to his agents that no white settlement would be permitted on land which had an unclear title from the Indians. He eventually had more problems with the eager white settlers about this policy than he had with the Indians.
- Benjamin Franklin A collection of Benjamin Franklin tidbits that relate Philadelphia's revolutionary prelate to his moving around the city, the colonies, and the world.
- Connecticut Invades Pennsylvania! Connecticut once waged three serious wars with Pennsylvania, and we don't even remember it. But politicians noticed that all became peaceful after we united into a single nation. Others noticed the Articles of Confederation were strong enough to cope with invasions by neighbor states. The two proprietorships of New Jersey taught some smaller lessons. Virginia taught still other lessons.
- Pacifist Pennsylvania, Invaded Many Times Pennsylvania was founded as a pacifist utopia, and currently regards itself as protected by vast oceans. But Pennsylvania has been seriously invaded at least six times.
- Philadelphia, A Running Commentary A series of observations in and around Philadelphia by notables over the last three and one-half centuries.
- The Proprietorship of West Jersey The southern half of New Jersey was William Penn's first venture in real estate. It undoubtedly gave him bigger ideas.
- To Germantown, a Short Appreciation Seven miles from the heart of Philadelphia, Germantown was once a separate town, the cultural center of Germans in America. Revolutionary battles were fought here, it was briefly the capital of the United States, and it still has an outstanding collection of schools and colleges.
- Pre-Revolutionary Philadelphia .