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Pennsylvania History and Government

Pennsylvania, which means "Penn's Woods," was named for Admiral William Penn of the Royal Navy. In gratitude for Penn's service to Great Britain, King Charles II granted Penn's son (also named William) a charter to make him proprietor of Pennsylvania. The younger William Penn established his Pennsylvanian Quaker Province in 1682. The colony's constitution, known as the Frame of Government of Pennsylvania, limited the use of the death penalty and provided for trial by jury, freedom of the press, and religious tolerance. Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. In the city of Philadelphia, the Declaration of Independence was signed and the Constitution was drafted. Pennsylvania was admitted to the union as its 2nd state in 1787.

Although Harrisburg serves as its state capital, Pennsylvania's best known cities are the historical Philadelphia and the industrial Pittsburgh. It's central location among the original colonies earned it the nickname of "Keystone State," a nickname that persisted as Pennsylvania remained valuable to both the industrial North and the agrarian South. Today, Pennsylvania's economy relies on the production of steel and coal, as well as tobacco, fruit, and machinery. The city of Hershey has become synonymous worldwide with chocolate. Pennsylvania also boasts 140 institutions of higher learning, including the nation's oldest medical school at the University of Pennsylvania.

Map of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Map
Pennsylvania Facts
Abbreviation: PA
Capital: Harrisburg
Nickname: Keystone State
Population: 12,281,054
Time Zone: EST
State Motto: Virtue, liberty, and independence
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