Pennsylvania and the North Midlands: a Loving Neighborhood

On the day after William Penn arrived in Pennsylvania, he called his colonists together, and solemnly pledged to protect their full “spiritual and temporal rights.” In return, he asked only two things. The first was that they should try to stay sober. The second was that they should keep up a “loving neighborhood” with one another.

The Memorable Bartrams

They were botanists, but not of the dull variety: William’s journals inflamed the imaginations of the European romantics, and John may have inadvertently touched off the American Revolution

You can sum up the beginnings of natural history in America in one name: Bartram. John Bartram and his son William laid the groundwork for American botany and either directly or indirectly taught most of our early naturalists. Their combined lives spanned a hundred and twenty-four years. Sir Isaac Newton was still in his prime when John Bartram was born. Audubon was a young man and Thoreau a child when William Bartram died. Read more »

Penn’s City: American Athens

From wilderness to foremost city of the colonies, and then to cosmopolitan capital of the Republic—this was Philadelphia’s first century

Until he journeyed to Philadelphia in 1774 to attend the meetings of the First Continental Congress, John Adams had never been out of his native New England. He had even been thinking of quietly retiring to his Braintree farm when the explosive atmosphere in and about Boston (watchful redcoats camped on the Common that summer) thrust him from his own beleaguered part of the world into the main stream of large affairs—and into the most cosmopolitan, progressive, and affluent society in colonial America.