What Were Some Major Obstacles for Colonial Pennsylvania?

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Colonial Pennsylvania was an important hub in the American colonies and is a site of historical significance. York was the original capital of the 13 colonies and the Liberty Bell still resides in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania was also a place where the Quakers found religious freedom. However, colonial Pennsylvania faced many major obstacles during its settlement.

1 Travel

Just traveling across the Atlantic during the settlement of colonial Pennsylvania was an obstacle for the early Pennsylvanians. This is demonstrated especially in the trip of the colony founder William Penn, who, upon reaching Pennsylvania, had lost about a third of his passengers due to smallpox. According to Alvin Powell, writing for the Harvard University Gazette, smallpox had been spreading quickly in Europe and came over with the European travelers. While it was a major obstacle for the European settlers, it was even more disastrous for Native Americans.

2 Allegheny Front

The Allegheny Front, a steep slope of the Appalachian Mountains and part of the Ridge and Valley Province, was another obstacle for settlers. It is more then 1,500 feet high and includes no passes, making it a massive obstacle for east-west transportation. A number of hills, valleys and rivers throughout the Allegheny Front also caused problems for travelers.

3 Moral Code

The Quakers settled in Pennsylvania to escape religious intolerance in England, and had a very strict moral code. They rejected any secular oaths, were staunch pacifists, and avoided paying taxes to Puritans. This belief in pacifism divided the Quakers from the rest of the settlers in Pennsylvania, according to historian W. Edmunds Claussen. Their pacifism was a problem during the French and Indian war, and only grew during the Revolutionary war, when Quakers who did not sign a writ of allegiance faced steep punishments.

4 Money

In the early days of the colonies, each colony had its own money system. This caused great confusion when settlers were trying to trade between one colony and another. To make things even more complicated, Pennsylvania money was not utilized in the countryside where there was "country money," often local agriculture commodities traded between settlers, according to economics professor Ron Michener of the University of Virginia.

5 Native Americans

William Penn bought the claims of the Native American tribes before settling in Pennsylvania and wrote a peace treaty to avoid conflict that had faced other colonies. Despite this, there was still a great deal of conflict between the settlers and the Native peoples. This was mostly due to a failed alliance with the French during the French and Indian war, the defeat of Ottawa tribe Chief Pontiac in 1764, and a general increased hostility. The Native Americans eventually began to travel west and completely left the area.

A.C. Arnold has been working the assistant editor of the Washington Daybook since 2007. Previously, she interned at Network Publications as an editor and worked as a freelance reporter for the "York Dispatch" in York, Pa. Arnold holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in professional writing from York College of Pennsylvania.