The populations of the state as a whole stagnated. From about 1770 to 1910 Pennsylvania had never recorded a single decade in which its population increased by less than 20 percent, and the rate sometimes approached twice that, but by the 1930's the population graphs flattened. Pennsylvania's population grew by only 12 percent between 1950 and 1970, and barely grew at all between 1970 and 2000.
The nation's first oil well was dug at Titusville in 1859, and the mining of iron ore and coal led to the development of the state's steel industry. More recently Pennsylvania's industry has diversified, although the state still leads the country in the production of specialty steel. The service, retail trade, and manufacturing sectors provide the most jobs; Pennsylvania is a leader in the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, food products, and electronic equipment.
Governor Gifford Pinchot decided the choice of the official State flower in the 1930s. The General Assembly had passed two bills each naming a different favorite shrub-(Mountain laurel and the Pink azalea). Governor Pinchot chose the former and signed the bill into law on May 5, 1933.
Mountain laurel in Pennsylvania normally begins to bloom late in May and its pink and white blossoms are in evidence well into June. Thousands of tourists from the Commonwealth and surrounding states are attracted to the mountains each spring to view this colorful display.
During the Civil War, Pennsylvania earned its nickname as the "Keystone State." Its location was seen as a "key" or critical stone in the colonies' wall against attack from the South. The Battle of Gettysburg, a critical turning point in the war, took place in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania.
In addition to the relocation of the capital, and the demise of the Federalists, one other important innovation defined the new face of Pennsylvania politics: in 1817 Pennsylvania became the first state to use the device of a nominating convention. Consisting of delegates from each county rather than representatives from the legislature, the convention gave the people from various parts of the state a greater voice in choosing a candidate. In offering broad participation in its political workings, Pennsylvania set the example that other states would follow.
Pennsylvania, in fact, would have been the colony in which the travelers would have encountered the richest mosaic of sects. Because the English Quaker William Penn had founded the colony as a "Holy Experiment" were Quakers and other persecuted religious sects could live and worship freely, Pennsylvania had attracted many small religious groups by 1770.
King Charles II owed William Penn £16,000, money which Admiral Penn had lent him. Seeking a haven in the New World for persecuted Friends, Penn asked the King to grant him land in the territory between Lord Baltimore’s province of Maryland and the Duke of York’s province of New York. With the Duke’s support, Penn’s petition was granted. The King signed the Charter of Pennsylvania on March 4, 1681, and it was officially proclaimed on April 2. The King named the new colony in honor of William Penn’s father. It was to include the land between the 39th and 42nd degrees of north latitude and from the Delaware River westward for five degrees of longitude.
Rich in historic lore, Pennsylvania territory was disputed in the early 1600s among the Dutch, the Swedes, and the English. England acquired the region in 1664 with the capture of New York, and in 1681 Pennsylvania was granted to William Penn, a Quaker, by King Charles II.
From its beginning, Pennsylvania ranked as a leading agricultural area and produced surpluses for export, adding to its wealth. By the 1750s an exceptionally prosperous farming area had developed in southeastern Pennsylvania. Wheat and corn were the leading crops, though rye, hemp, and flax were also important.
When first discovered by Europeans, Pennsylvania, like the rest of the continent, was inhabited by groups of people of Mongoloid ancestry long known as American Indians. Today they are proudly designated the Native Americans. The culture reflected their Stone Age background, especially in material arts and crafts. Tools, weapons, and household equipment were made from stone, wood, and bark. Transportation was on foot or by canoe. Houses were made of bark, clothing from the skins of animals.