Skip to main content

Pennsylvania and the North Midlands: a Loving Neighborhood

March 2023
1min read

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.

This notion of “loving neighborhood” was an ideal of high importance in the Delaware Valley. It became the cultural cement of a special type of comity which combined Quaker ideas and North Midland traditions. This Delaware comity differed from those of New England and the Chesapeake in many ways—in patterns of settlement, migration, association and social bonding.

The ideal settlement in the Delaware Valley was one where every famaily lived separately upon its farmstead, but was not entirely isolated from others. Houses were to be built in small clusters which became the nuclei of rural neighborhoods—a pattern still to be seen through the Pennsylvania countryside.

This form of settlement had long existed in the north of England—a pattern equally distinct from the town life of East Anglia and the manorial villages of Wessex. Nucleated towns were comparatively rare in the North Midlands. So also were landed estates with a great house surrounded by a cluster of close-built cottages. The economy of the northern counties required smaller units of land and more open settlements.


We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "November 1990"

Authored by: Fredric Smoler

What the past tells of America’s role in the current crisis is sometimes contradictory—but always worth listening to

Authored by: Oliver Jensen

Good luck and a determined woman save the lone photographic
record of a historic era in Vermont

Authored by: Ray Smith

As I watched the lunar landing on television, my part in the whole scenario took on a new meaning.

Authored by: John Lukacs

Americans have always sympathized with the Eastern European countries in their struggles for democracy, but for two centuries we haven’t been able to help much. Do we have a chance now? A distinguished expatriate looks at the odds.

Authored by: Bertram Wyatt-Brown

Very. The legacy of British traits in America is deeper and more significant than we knew.

Authored by: Alexander O. Boulton

In its majesty and in its simplicity, the Greek Revival house seemed to echo America’s belief in the past and hopes for the future

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

The world’s most prominent actress risked her career by standing up to one of Hollywood’s mega-studios, proving that behind the beauty was also a very savvy businesswoman. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.