Was Pennsylvania One Of The Original 13 Colonies?

Old map of the northeast United States showing the 13 original colonies

The United States is home to a rich history that has been shaped by the original 13 colonies. They have an unparalleled significance in American history, as they provided the building blocks for the birth of the United States.

These colonies, nestled along the eastern seaboard, played an instrumental part in the birth of a new nation. In this post, we set out to answer the question: Was Pennsylvania one of the 13 colonies?

Pennsylvania: The Keystone of the 13 Colonies 

The 13 original colonies played a significant role in laying the foundation for the birth of our great nation. Situated along the breathtaking eastern seaboard of North America during the 17th and 18th centuries, each left an indelible mark on the political, economic, and cultural landscape of the United States.

Their evolution and eventual quest for independence created the perfect backdrop for the American Revolution and led to the formation of a new era of freedom.

Let’s look closer at the fascinating group of settlements along North America’s eastern coast. Each colony had its unique characteristics and made significant contributions to the development of the United States. Let’s explore their invaluable part in shaping America’s past, present, and future.

1. Virginia

Established in 1607, Virginia was the first permanent English settlement in North America. It thrived through the cultivation of tobacco, which became a major cash crop and played a considerable role in the colonies’ economic development.

Virginia also contributed to the growth of representative government by establishing the House of Burgesses in 1619, the first elected legislative assembly in the colonies. Virginia’s contributions to American history are undeniable and continue to impact our nation to this day.

Historic church on Jamestown island Virginia

2. Massachusetts

Massachusetts, the birthplace of the Puritans’ dream of religious freedom, was founded in 1630. It was established as a theocratic society where the Puritans could practice their beliefs without fear of persecution.

Notably, Massachusetts contributed immensely to developing education and intellectual thought by establishing the first college, Harvard College in Cambridge, in 1636, which remains the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

Furthermore, Massachusetts played a key part in the American Revolution, with significant events such as the Boston Tea Party and the battles of Lexington and Concord that changed the course of history.

3. New Hampshire

Established in 1623, it was central in trade and commerce owing to its prime location on the coast. New Hampshire’s significance as a center for fishing, shipbuilding, and maritime trade made it a critical hub for early American economic development.

Additionally, New Hampshire made remarkable contributions to the revolutionary spirit of America, with several of its residents participating in significant events such as the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill, which shaped the course of history. 

4. Maryland

Founded in 1634, Maryland was a proprietary colony granted to Lord Baltimore and established as a sanctuary for Catholics seeking religious freedom. Notably, in 1649, Maryland’s Act of Toleration became an early example of religious tolerance in the colonies.

Original flag of the United States with 13 stars

Furthermore, it became renowned for its tobacco production, contributing significantly to its economic development and establishing an agrarian society.

5. Connecticut

Settled by Puritans in 1636, it influenced the development of a republic form of governance in America. In 1639, the adoption of the Fundamental Orders marked a significant milestone in American history. It served as a written constitution that established a government granting voting rights and stated the powers and limits of government. This document was used as a starting point for the US Constitution. 

Furthermore, Connecticut was a hub for trade and commerce, with its residents actively participating in shipbuilding and trade along the Atlantic coast, further fueling its economic growth.

6. Rhode Island

Founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, the colony was established as a haven for religious freedom and the separation of church and state. Rhode Island’s unwavering commitment to religious tolerance and individual liberty became a hallmark of its identity.

It also played a powerful position in maritime trade and contributed to the American Revolution through its active participation in the Continental Army.

Keystone Answers Fun Fact: Pennsylvania has approximately 7.7 million acres of land dedicated to farming, and the average farm size is 133 acres.

7. Delaware

Originally settled by the Swedes, it later came under Dutch and English control. Delaware was an important center for trade and commerce due to its strategic location along the Delaware River.

The colony was also active in the Revolutionary War, with its residents contributing troops to the Continental Army and even signing the Declaration of Independence.

8. North Carolina

The 17th century saw the settlement of North Carolina, which was predominantly an agricultural colony.

Tobacco, rice, and indigo production were the focal points of its economy. North Carolina was important in the American War of Independence, hosting major battles like the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park monument commemorates the Battle of Guilford Court House

9. South Carolina

The year 1670 marked the establishment of a permanent settlement in South Carolina, which rose to prominence with its impressive agricultural production. Its prosperity relied heavily upon the cultivation of rice and indigo, with enslaved labor being widely used. Charleston quickly became an important center of commerce.

South Carolina played a pivotal role in the fight for freedom. Multiple battles were fought there as its residents actively resisted British rule and furnished troops to the Continental Army. It was also one of the richest colonies at the time of the war.

10. New Jersey

The Dutch initiated the settlement of New Jersey, and it subsequently fell under English jurisdiction. The colony made a name for itself with its varied demographics and active involvement in trade and commerce.

Additionally, New Jersey was a critical participant in the American Revolution and witnessed many battles, such as the Battle of Trenton, where George Washington defeated the Hessians.

11. New York

The Dutch initially established the settlement of New Amsterdam, which later passed into the hands of the English and was renamed New York.

New York was another pivotal colony in the formation of the United States. It was one of the few colonies that enjoyed a diverse economy, with a thriving fur trade and bustling seaports that helped facilitate commerce with Europe.

Cannon at Saratoga National Historical Park in Saratoga County, New York

Additionally, it was an active participant in the American Revolution, with key battles taking place across the state, including the Battle of Saratoga, which bolstered the spirits of the Colonial Army and brought the French into the war.

New York City, which served as the nation’s capital for a brief period in the 1780s, has since become an international hub for finance and culture, attracting people from all over the world.

12. Pennsylvania

To answer the above question, Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies and played a vital role in the founding of the United States.

Independence Hall building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

William Penn established the state in 1681 as a Quaker colony that espoused religious tolerance for all. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s establishment was deeply rooted in the ideals of religious liberty and acceptance, which drew a multitude of groups to its borders. It became a haven for Quakers, Mennonites, Amish, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and many others seeking shelter from religious oppression.

The nickname of Pennsylvania is the “Keystone State” due to its significant contribution to the formation of the United States.

In fact, it was in Philadelphia, at Independence Hall, that the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution, were signed. Pennsylvania’s location also made it an important hub for transportation and commerce during colonial times, with its major cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh serving as key centers for trade and industry.

Pennsylvania was known for its religious tolerance and attracted a diverse population, including many German immigrants. This melting pot of faiths and cultures nurtured a sense of unity and mutual respect, which became a defining feature of the state’s character over time.

13. Georgia

In 1733, the establishment of Georgia marked the last of the 13 colonies. It was originally conceived as a refuge for debtors and functioned as a barrier zone between British-controlled South Carolina and Spanish Florida.

Revolutionary War memorial in Savannah, Georgia

Despite being the youngest and least populated of the 13 colonies, Georgia played a significant role during the war. Georgia had substantial strategic importance due to its location on the southern coast of North America. The British recognized Georgia’s value, and in 1778, Savannah was captured by the British after a brutal siege that lasted several weeks.

Fueling the Flame of Independence

Pennsylvania’s importance as one of the original 13 colonies cannot be overstated. From its involvement in the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution to its status as a hub for industry and innovation, Pennsylvania was an important player in the formation of the United States.

Its commitment to religious tolerance and the diversity of its settlers helped shape the country’s values and culture. So, the next time you visit Pennsylvania, take a moment to appreciate its rich history and contribution to the American story.

Photo of author


I was born and raised in Pennsylvania; I love to travel, visit new destinations, explore unique locations, and meet great new people. However, sometimes, you don't need to travel far from home to find new adventures, so I decided now was the time to learn more about this great state I call home.