The beginnings of Philadelphia
The Treaty of Penn with the Indians. This poster represents the signing of the peace treaty between the natives and William Penn, at Shackmaxon.
Before the arrival of the English, almost 20,000 Lenape Amerindians, belonging to the Algonquian nation, lived in the Delaware Valley and the settlement of Shackmaxon.
Exploration of the Delaware Valley began in the early 17th century. The first settlers claimed the entire river bank and sought to expand their influence by creating an agricultural and fur trading colony to avoid French and British merchants. The first Swedish expedition to North America embarked from the port of Gothenburg in 1637. It was organized and planned by Clas Fleming, a Swedish admiral from Finland. Part of this colony, called New Sweden, included territories from the west coast of the Delaware River to just below the Schuylkill River, in other words, New Jersey, present-day Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. See topschoolsintheusa for best high schools in Pennsylvania.
New Sweden, founded in 1638, was annexed to the New Netherlands in 1655. The region finally passed to British rule in 1674.
In 1681, the King of England Charles II granted a letter of authorization to William Penn in exchange for the cancellation of a debt that the government owed his father. By this document, the Pennsylvania colony was officially founded. William Penn (1644 – 1718) was an English Quaker: he belonged to this dissident religious group that suffered persecution in England, which rejected the ecclesiastical hierarchy and proclaimed equality, tolerance and non-violence. Thus, Pennsylvania quickly became a haven for all those who were oppressed for confessing this faith. William Penn left England for America in 1682 and founded the city of Philadelphia. He made sure that this city served as a port and political center. Although Carlos II had already given him the land, William Penn also bought the land from its rightful Amerindian owners in order to establish peaceful relations with them. Apparently he signed a friendship treaty with Chief Lenape Tamanend at Shackmaxon in 1682. Elfreth’s Alley, inhabited street since 1713.
Philadelphia was laid out on a checkerboard plan, the oldest in the United States, with wide streets and five parks. But above all, Willliam Penn wanted to make this city a city of God, guaranteeing freedom of worship. The name of the city, in Greek (“brotherly love”), reflected this ambition. Already when William Penn returned from England in 1699 after an absence of fifteen years, he found a much larger city located just behind Boston. by its population. Many European, English, Dutch, French Protestant immigrants had indeed arrived, attracted by the city’s prosperity and its religious tolerance. A first group of Germans settled in 1683 in the current neighborhood of Germantown. Willliam Penn granted a charter to the city on October 25, 1701, in order to create municipal institutions: a city council, councils, and an assembly.
By the second half of the 18th century, Philadelphia had become the most populous city of the Thirteen Colonies (14,000 residents in 1780), surpassing Boston. He also disputed Dublin for the position of second city of the British Empire.
A center of lights
The Pennsylvania Gazette
At the end of the 18th century, Philadelphia was the “rightful center of revolutionary ideas”, notably under the impulse of Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790). This Boston-born scholar came to Philadelphia in 1723 and was one of the founders of the Library Company of Philadelphia (1731), the University of Pennsylvania (1740), and the American Philosophical Society (1743). In 1752, he invented the lightning rod. In 1728 John Bartram created a botanical garden, the first of its kind in North America. It was also in the 18th century that Philadelphia became the main publishing center of the Thirteen Colonies: the first newspaper, The American Weekly Mercury, appeared in 1719. The Pennsylvania Gazette (1723) played an important role during the American Revolution. In 1739 the first treaty against slavery was published and the city became, along with Boston, one of the abolitionist centers of the country.
Knowledge and culture experienced an important development in the 18th century, so much so that the city was sometimes referred to as “the Athens of North America”. In the 1760s a school of anatomy was opened, a medical school in 1765 and, the following year, a permanent theater and company. In 1790, the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, the oldest law school in the United States, was inaugurated. Many artists in the city founded the Columbianum in 1794, which was then the first society for the promotion of the fine arts.
Finally, Philadelphia was equipped with equipment, public tools and urban infrastructures before other American cities, especially under the impulse of Benjamin Franklin: a hospital and a fire company in the 1730s and many banks were founded in the 1730s. years 1780. The Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), the seat of the colonial assembly, was built in 1753. The streets were progressively paved and lit with gas lamps.