Officially called the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is nicknamed the Keystone State because of its central location among the original 13 colonies. William Penn, a Quaker and the state’s founder, guaranteed religious freedom to everyone.
Penn established a government with two innovations much copied in the New World: the county commission and freedom of religious conviction.
The tradition of freedom continued when the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania became the second state in the USA on December 12, 1787. Called the “City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia served as the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800. When you visit this city, see the cracked Liberty Bell that was rung when the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
There is much to see and do in Pennsylvania, which features 120 state parks, 18 National Parks, and 164 National Historic Landmarks. In the Allegheny National Forest in the northwestern corner of the state, visitors can enjoy snowmobiling, ATV trails, hunting, water sports, camping, fishing, and much more.
In Lancaster County, Amish still drive horse-drawn carriages and plow their fields much in the same way as their ancestors. See the Gettysburg National Military Park, where the Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War and inspired President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal “Gettysburg Address.” The Valley Forge National Park, which includes the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of George Washington and the Continental Army, commemorates the sacrifices and perseverance of the Revolutionary War heroes. At Hershey, Pennsylvania, you can sample delicious candy at the world’s largest chocolate factory.
Enjoy your visit to the Keystone State.
Kathy R. Weiser- Alexander
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Betsy Ross & the Nations First Flag
Braddock’s Road of Pennsylvania & Maryland
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
Fort Antes and the Big Runaway
Fort Bedford – Supplying Forbes Road
Fort Necessity – Defending Against the French
Haunted Restaurant in Honesdale
Historic People of Pennsylvania
The National Road – Connecting Mountains & Rivers
Pontiac’s Rebellion Against the British
A Sad Ghost Story – Suitcase Jane Doe
Some Remarkable Women in Pennsylvania & Kentucky
Tom Quick – Avenger or Psychopath?
Valley Forge – A Patriotic Symbol of Perseverance
Pennsylvania’s official flag was adopted in 1907. The flag has a deep blue background. In the center are two harnessed draft horses surrounding a shield picturing a ship, a plow, and three sheaves of wheat. Above is a bald eagle. Below are a stalk of corn, an olive branch, and a draped red ribbon that reads, “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence.”
Mighty is your name,
Steeped in glory and tradition,
Object of acclaim,
Where brave men fought the foe of freedom,
‘Til the bell of independence filled the countryside.
— Pennsylvania State Song
© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated March 2023.