Table of Contents
- Founding of Philadelphia
- Importance of Philadelphia in Colonial America
- Fun Facts About Philadelphia
- Lesson Summary
Philadelphia, or the "City of Brotherly Love" (a nickname based on the literal translation of its name), is the largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, and it has a rich history that dates back all the way to Colonial America. The city was home to many of the famous free thinkers of the American Revolution and played a massive role in the foundation of the United States.
Situated between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, and neighboring other prosperous colonies like New York, New Jersey and Maryland, Philadelphia was the ideal land for its native inhabitants and for a British colony. With a temperate climate and only moderate winters, Philadelphia was an ideal place for any native or colonist to thrive in the 1600s and 1700s.
Here we will learn facts about the founding and history of Philadelphia, its role in the foundation of the American Revolution and fun facts about the city today.
The founding of Philadelphia goes back thousands of years, as records show the Native American tribe, the Lenape, settling in the area as far back as 8000 BCE. But the Philadelphia we know today has its roots starting in the early 1600s, when Dutch and Swedish merchants established small settlements and trading posts in the Delaware Valley area.
The area continued to be run the Dutch under the colonial authority of New Netherland until the 1660s, when England captured the colony and officially marked it as an English colony.
The founder of modern Philadelphia was William Penn, an established English colonist and Quaker pacifist. Penn founded the city in 1682 as part of his larger American colony that would eventually become known as Pennsylvania. Penn was granted the colony from King Charles II of England, who provided him with the land as a means to settle debts he owed to Penn's family.
Soon after arriving to his new city, Penn would establish an environment of tolerance and peace. He would sign peace treaties and trade agreements with local Native Americans, famously embodied in his friendship with Lenape chief Tammany. He would also establish a democratic government called the Pennsylvania State House, which would later be known as Independence Hall.
Penn saw this as not only an opportunity to run his own colony in America, but also as a means to escape religious persecution he faced in England. He envisioned his colony as a place where all people could worship freely and live together, regardless of their religion. Philadelphia and the larger colony of Pennsylvania were built to be a prosperous and peaceful society built around the Quaker faith. Early life in the city was said to be an ideal one, with wide streets and a mixture of both urban and rural areas. Life in the new city was also very prosperous for merchants, as Philadelphia was a key trading port among the Middle Colonies. Its location by the Delaware River allowed for easy trade between other colonies like New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
The city quickly thrived, and by the 1700s, it became the biggest shipbuilding and trade center in all of Colonial America. By the 1770s, the city's population had grown to nearly 30,000 people, and it was the third most important center of business for the British Empire, behind Liverpool and London. It would also attract many people who would become famous, including Benjamin Franklin, who worked as publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette.
By the 1700s, not only had Philadelphia become the commercial and cultural epicenter of Colonial America, but it also became a home of revolutionary thought and activity. In 1774, Philadelphia resident Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense had spread across the colonies and gained widespread praise among colonists for its cry for independence. This was followed only two years later, on July 4, 1776, when Philadelphians were the first to hear the Declaration of Independence, read aloud from the yard of the State House.
During the Revolutionary War, from 1775 to 1783, the city became an important meeting place for the founding fathers, hosting two Continental Congress meetings with representatives from each of the original 13 colonies to debate the future of the newly independent country. The first Continental Congress meeting assembled at Independence Hall to debate their response to Britain's Intolerable Acts, and the second met to pass Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
Following the war with Britain, Philadelphia was seen as the natural choice for the capital of the United States. From 1790 to 1800, the city served that function for the new country, with the first two presidents of the United States, George Washington and John Adams, each serving their terms in the city. Even though the capital of the nation would move to Washington, D.C., and other cities like Chicago and New York City would rise to surpass Philadelphia in population and commerce, the city still remains as one of the United States' major cultural centers.
Modern Philadelphia is home to many major historical sites, including the Liberty Bell, the bell used to call legislative meetings in the 1700s, as well as the Betsy Ross flag, an early design of the US flag. It is also home to Independence Hall, where the signing of the Declaration of Independence and constitutional convention took place. The city is also home to the Philadelphia Zoo, the first zoo in the United States, established in 1874.
The city is also home to many pop cultural landmarks, such as the famous "Rocky Steps" outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, named after a scene from the 1976 film Rocky. Another popular item is one not limited to just the city itself, but beloved by fast food lovers across the United States: the Philly cheesesteak, a sandwich made of thinly sliced beefsteak and melted cheese on a hoagie roll.
Philadelphia, or the "City of Brotherly Love," has been a city of great importance throughout the history of the United States. Founded by English Quaker William Penn, the city became a leading center of commerce and revolutionary thought in Colonial America. During the American Revolution, Philadelphia served as the nation's capital for a brief period of time and was home to the Continental Congress, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Today, Philadelphia is one of the United States' largest cities and is home to many historical sites and pop-culture landmarks.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Philadelphia was important in the 1700s because it was the city where the founding fathers worked for American Independence; it also acted as the country's capital for a time.
Philadelphia is famous not only for being the cradle of the American Revolution, but also for being home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the "Rocky Steps" of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Philly cheesesteak.
The city of Philadelphia was founded in 1682 by English Quaker William Penn as part of his larger colony of Pennsylvania.
Already a member? Log InBack
I would definitely recommend Study.com to my colleagues. It’s like a teacher waved a magic wand and did the work for me. I feel like it’s a lifeline.