Pennsylvania's history extends back some 15,000 years to when the first people settled there. When the first European settlers arrived, Pennsylvania was home to several Stone Age tribes of Native Americans, mainly the Delawares, Susquehannocks, Shawnees and Iroquois.
In 1682, William Penn founded the Province of Pennsylvania as a refuge for fellow persecuted Quakers. Soon, the promise of religious tolerance and available land created a diverse colony that became the center of British trade.
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Pennsylvania was the scene of historic moments in the Revolutionary War, including the approval in Philadelphia of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress. Here, George Washington staged his daring and historic crossing of the Delaware River to defeat the British forces at Trenton, New Jersey.
Pennsylvania also was the scene of historic Civil War battles fought between Union and Confederate armies, including the decisive engagement at Gettysburg.
Here are seven additional things that you might not know about Pennsylvania's history:
The first Major League World Series was held in 1903 between the Boston Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh's Exposition Park. Boston won five games to three in a best-of-nine playoff, even though Hall-of-Fame shortstop Honus Wagner played for Pittsburgh, according to History.com.
Centralia, Pennsylvania, caught fire in 1962 and has been burning ever since. It started in a garbage dump and spread underground to a coal mine. The town now is virtually uninhabited.
Pennsylvania is misspelled as "Pensylvania" on the Liberty Bell because it was made before a common spelling was adopted for the state. William Penn first wanted to name it Sylvania (from the Latin for woods). But King Charles II wanted Pennsylvania, after Penn's father, according to Mental Floss.
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The Amish, a religious sect that is well represented in Pennsylvania, has found a way to use the computer, although it eschews modern technology. According to NPR
, they use it as a word processor and accounting, but the computers provide no Internet connections, video or music.
Pennsylvania native James Buchanan was America's only bachelor president and, rumor had it, the nation's only gay one. Some academics rank him as the nation's worst president. For certain, he was Pennsylvania's only president.
The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia might be the weirdest museum in the world. It houses more than 20,000 human skulls, human skeletons, preserved body parts and medical mysteries. At the museum you can see pieces of Albert Einstein's brain, and a piece of tissue from Abraham Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.
In Pennsylvania, sleeping on top of a refrigerator outside or catching a fish with your hands is illegal.
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