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1682
William Penn established Bucks County as one of Pennsylvania’s 3 original counties.
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1730
Benjamin Franklin became the official printer for Pennsylvania. He ultimately became the official printer for several colonial governments.
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1731 Jul 1
The “Instrument of Association” for the Library Company of Philadelphia was signed under the leadership of Benjamin Franklin. It was America’s first circulating library.
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1733
John Bartram, American farmer, began sending seed boxes from Philadelphia to Peter Collinson, a London cloth merchant and passionate plant collector.
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1738
Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard's Almanack "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."
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1743
Benjamin Franklin and John Bartram founded the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia as an American counterpart to the British Royal Society.
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1750
Benjamin Franklin drew up plans for a “sentry box,” designed to prove his theory that lightning as an electrical phenomenon.
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1752 Jan 1
Betsy Ross (d.1836), flag maker who contributed to the design of the American flag, was born in Philadelphia as Elizabeth Griscom.
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1752 Jun 15
Benjamin Franklin and his son tested the relationship between electricity and lightning by flying a kite in a thunder storm. Some sources date this to June 10.
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1752
In the summer of this year Benjamin Franklin installed the world’s 1st lightning rods at the Pennsylvania State House.
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1753 Oct
Robert Dinwiddie, governor of Virginia, called a meeting to discuss the eviction of British settlers from homesteads west of the Appalachian Mountains by French soldiers from Canada. Major George Washington volunteered to deliver a letter of trespass to French authorities in the Ohio Valley.
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1753 Dec 14
French Captain Jacques Le Gardeur rejected the pretensions of the English to ownership of the Ohio Valley, but promised to forward Virginia Gov. Dinwiddie’s letter of trespass to his superiors in Canada.
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1753
Benjamin Franklin use the pages of his Poor Richard’s Almanac to make a case for using lightning rods atop tall structures making storms less dangerous.
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1753
The Georgian-style colonial legislature (later Pennsylvania State House) was completed at 520 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia for the Province of Pennsylvania. It became the location where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted and thus became known as Independence Hall.
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1754 Jan 6
Major George Washington, while returning to Virginia, encountered a party of English settlers and militiamen at Will’s Creek sent by Gov. Dinwiddie to establish a fort and trading post at the Forks of the Ohio.
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1754 May 28
Col. George Washington led a 40-man detachment that defeated French and Indian forces in a skirmish near Great Meadows, Pa.
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1754 Jun 19
The Albany Congress opened. New York colonial Gov. George Clinton called for the meeting to discuss better relations with Indian tribes and common defensive measures against the French. The attendees included Indians and representatives from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Benjamin Franklin attended and presented his Plan of Union, which was adopted by the conference. The meeting ended on July 11.
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1754 Jul 3
George Washington surrendered the small, circular Fort Necessity (later Pittsburgh) in southwestern Pennsylvania to the French, leaving them in control of the Ohio Valley. This marked the beginning of the French and Indian War also called the 7 Years' War. In 2005 Fred Anderson authored “The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War.”
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1755 Jul 9
General Edward Braddock was mortally wounded when French and Indian troops ambushed his force of British regulars and colonial militia, which was on its way to attack France's Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh). Gen. Braddock's troops were decimated at Fort Duquesne, where he refused to accept George Washington's advice on frontier style fighting. British Gen'l. Braddock gave his bloody sash to George Washington at Fort Necessity just before he died on Jul 13.
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1755 Jul 13
Edward Braddock, British general, died Following the July 9 battle at Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
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1757
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) helped set up America’s first street cleaning service in Philadelphia.
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1758 Nov 25
In the French and Indian War British forces under General John Forbes captured Fort Duquesne (the site of present day Pittsburgh, est. 1754). George Washington participated in the campaign. Forbes renamed the site Fort Pitt after William Pitt the Elder, who di-rected British military policy in the Seven Years' War of 1756-'63. Before his arrival, the French had burned the fort and retreated.
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1762
Benjamin Franklin returned to Philadelphia from London and remained until 1764.
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1774 Sep 5
The first Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia in a secret session in Carpenter's Hall with representatives from every colony except Georgia. Tensions had been tearing at relations between the colonists and the government of King George III. The British taking singular exception to the 1773 shipboard tea party held in Boston harbor. The dispute convinced Britain to pass the "Intolerable Acts"- 4 of which were to punish Mass. for the Boston Tea Party. Peyton Randolph of Williamsburg, Va., chaired the 1st Continental Congress. Its first official act was a call to prayer.
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1774 Nov
Thomas Paine, English pamphleteer, arrived in Philadelphia. He had been urged to come to America by Ben Franklin.
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1775 Feb
Englishman Thomas Paine became editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine, owned by printer Robert Aitken.
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1775 May 5
Benjamin Franklin arrived in Philadelphia from London where he had lived since 1764. He soon began working with Thomas Paine on a pamphlet urging independence from Britain, an idea proposed by physician Benjamin Rush.
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1775 May 10
The Second Continental Congress convened in Pennsylvania. It named George Washington as supreme commander. Benjamin Franklin represented Pennsylvania soon presented his reworked Plan of Union under the title The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.
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1775 Nov 10
The US Marines were organized under authority of the Continental Congress. Congress commissioned Samuel Nicholas to raise two Battalions of Marines. That very day, Nicholas set up shop in Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern. He appointed Robert Mullan, then the proprietor of the tavern, to the job of chief Marine Recruiter serving, of course, from his place of business at Tun Tavern.
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1775 Dec 18
1775 Dec 27
In Philadelphia Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and Francis Daymon, members of the Committee of Secret Correspondence, met 3 times at Carpenter’s Hall with French agent Chevalier Julien-Alexandre Achard de Bonvouloir regarding French support for American Independence.
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1776 Jan 10
Thomas Paine (1737-1809), British émigré and propagandist, anonymously published "Common Sense," a scathing attack on King George III's reign over the colonies and a call for complete independence. The first 1,000 sold within days at 2 shillings. By the end of the year some 150,000 copies were sold, greatly affecting public sentiment and the deliberations of the Continental Congress leading up to the Declaration of Independence. An instant bestseller in both the colonies and in Britain, Paine baldly stated that King George III was a tyrant and that Americans should shed any sentimental attachment to the monarchy. America, he argued, had a moral obligation to reject monarchy.
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1776 Mar 2
The American Secret Committee of Correspondence appointed Connecticut lawyer Silas Deane as a special envoy to negotiate with the French government for aid.
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1776 Jul 4
The Continental Congress approved adoption of the amended Declaration of Independence, prepared by Thomas Jefferson and signed by John Hancock--President of the Continental Congress--and Charles Thomson, Congress secretary, without dissent. However, the New York delegation abstained as directed by the New York Provisional Congress. On July 9, the New York Congress voted to endorse the declaration. On July 19, Congress then resolved to have the "Unanimous Declaration" inscribed on parchment for the signature of the delegates. Among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, two went on to become presidents of the United States, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence was signed by president of Congress John Hancock and secretary Charles Thomson. John Hancock said, "There, I guess King George will be able to read that." referring to his signature on the Declaration of Independence. Most delegates signed the parchment copy on August 2. Other signers later included Benjamin Rush and Robert Morris. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, eight were born outside North America. In 2007 David Armitage authored “The Declaration of Independence: A Global History.”
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1776
The Quakers of Pennsylvania abolished slavery within the Society of Friends and then took their crusade to society at large by petitioning the state legislature to outlaw the practice.
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1777 Jul 4
No member of Congress thought about commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence until July 3 - one day too late. So the first organized elaborate celebration of independence occurred the following day: July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia.
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1777 Dec 2
British officers under Gen. Howe met in the Philadelphia home of Lydia Darragh to discuss plans to the attack American forces on December 5, just prior to Gen. Washington’s planned move to Valley Forge. Mrs. Darragh listened in on the plans and sent word to Whitemarsh of the impending attack.
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1777 Dec 5
A British advance column met unexpected resistance at Germantown, Penn. Gen. Howe refrained from a direct attack on Whitemarsh, where Gen. Wasinington was based, and the battle dissolved in a series of inconclusive skirmishes that lasted 3 days. The Americans lost 90 men killed or wounded and the British lost 60.
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1777 Dec 8
Britain’s Gen. Howe withdrew to Philadelphia following a failed attempt on American forces encamped at Whitemarsh.
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1780 Mar 1
Pennsylvania became the first U.S. state to abolish slavery (for new-borns only). It was followed by Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1784, New York in 1785, and New Jersey in 1786. Massachusetts abolished slavery through a judicial decision in 1783 (see July 8 1777).
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1785 Oct 18
Benjamin Franklin was elected president of Pennsylvania. Special balloting unanimously elected Franklin the sixth President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, replacing John Dickinson.
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1787 May 25
The Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia after enough delegates showed up for a quorum. The Founding Fathers turned to the Rushworth's Collections of England for revolutionary precedents. George Washington presided. [see May 25, 1777] Rhode Island refused to send delegates.
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1787 Sep 17
The Constitution of the United States was completed and signed by a majority of delegates (12) attending the constitutional convention in Philadelphia. The US Constitution went into effect on Mar 4, 1789. Clause 3 of Article I, Section 8 empowered Congress to "regulate Commerce with foreign nations, among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes." Two of the signers went on to become presidents of the United States. George Washington, the president of the Constitutional Convention, and James Madison both signed the Constitution. The US Constitution is the world's oldest working Constitution. George Mason of Virginia refused to sign the document because he thought it made the federal government too powerful believed that it should contain a Bill of Rights.
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1787
Peter Markoe (1752?-1792) authored “An Algerine Spy in Pennsylvania.” His satirical provocation helped to push the US Congress authorized a Navy and to dispatch Marines to subdue the pirates of Tripoli.
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1789 Dec 28
Lydia Darrragh (b.1729), American spy, died in Philadelphia. Her exploits in 1777 did not become public until the publication of an anonymous article in 1827.
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1790 Mar 1
President Washington signed a measure authorizing the first US Census. The Connecticut Compromise was a proposal for two houses in the legislature-one based on equal representation for each state, the other for population-based representation-that resolved the dispute between large and small states at the Constitutional Convention. Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman's proposal led to the first nationwide census in 1790. The population was determined to be 3,929,625, which included 697,624 slaves and 59,557 free blacks. The most populous state was Virginia, with 747,610 people and the most populous city was Philadelphia with 42,444 inhabitants. The average cost of this year’s census was 1.13 cents per person.
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1790 Apr 17
Benjamin Franklin (born 1706), American statesman, died in Philadelphia at age 84. He mechanized the process of making sounds from tuned glass with his glass armonica. In 2000 H.W. Brands authored his Franklin biography: "The First American." In 2003 Walter Isaacson authored "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life." In 2005 Philip Dray authored “Stealing God’s Thunder,” an account of Franklin’s work with lightning rods.
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1793 Jan 9
The first US manned balloon flight occurred as Frenchman Jean Pierre Blanchard, using a hot-air balloon, flew between Philadelphia and Woodbury, N.J. He stayed airborne for 46 minutes, traveled close to 15 miles and set down at the "old Clement farm" in Deptford, New Jersey. [see Jun 23, 1784, Mar 9, 1793]
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1804 Feb 6
Joseph Priestley (b.1733), English-born US writer, philosopher and chemist, died in Pennsylvania. He became best known for having discovered oxygen. Priestley also figured out how to manufacture carbonated water and is sometimes called “the father of the soft-drink industry.” In 2008 Steven Johnson authored “The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America.”
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1805
The Philadelphia harbor was dredged with a high-pressure steam engine invented by Oliver Evans. He was unable to get a proper patent for it.
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1818
Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH) was founded in Philadelphia as John A. Brown and Company, an importer of linen. On January 1, 1931, Brown Brothers And Company merged with Harriman Brothers & Company, an investment company started in 1912 with railway money.
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1824
The Second Bank of the United States, established by federal charter in 1791, was completed in Philadelphia by William Strickland. It was modeled after the Parthenon. From 1841-1934 it served as a Custom House. It was acquired by the National Park Service in 1939 and in 1974 became the home of the Peale portraits. The renovated museum reopened Dec 1, 2004.
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1830
The Woolrich had its beginning when John Rich and his partner Daniel McCormick opened a woolen mill at Plum Run in Clinton County, Pa. In 1845 John Rich bought out all the shares of the business from McCormick and in 1852 took one of his three sons into the endeavor and the combine became known as John Rich and Son.
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1832 Aug
In Pennsylvania 57 Irish immigrants died of cholera after traveling there to build a railroad. In 2009 their bones were found at a woodsy site known as Duffy's Cut, named after Philip Duffy, who hired the immigrants from Donegal, Tyrone and Derry to help build the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad. In 2010 evidence indicated that at least some of the men’s remains showed signs of violence.
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1832 Nov 29
Louisa May Alcott (d.1888), American author who wrote "Little Women," was born in Germantown, Pa. Under the pen name A.M. Barnard she wrote stories of violence and revenge that included "Pauline’s Passion and Punishment." "It takes people a long time to learn the difference between talent and genius, especially ambitious young men and women."
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1832
The Pittsburgh riverfront home of coal baron Abraham Hays flooded. Hays built a new mansion, which later became a stop on the Underground Railroad, harboring slaves who traveled a tunnel from the Monongahela River to the vast brick-lined basement.
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1833
American Navy pensioners moved into what was then called the Naval Asylum, a 180-room stone building on the bank of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The name was later changed to the Naval Home. It closed in 1977.
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1834 Jan
New of the failure of business houses and banks in Philadelphia, NY, and Washington heralded the newspapers.
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1834 Sep 16
The Bank of the US abandoned its policy of loan curtailment as Nicholas Biddle moved to secure a new charter from the state of Pennsylvania.
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1835 Jul 6
John Marshall, the 3rd chief justice of the US Supreme Court, died at the age of 79. Two days later, while tolling in his honor in Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell cracked. Marshall served on the court for 34 years.
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1838 Jul 11
John Wanamaker (d.1922), US merchant who founded a chain of stores in Philadelphia, was born.
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