Pennsylvania Politics and the Growth of Democracy: 1740- 1776

By Theodore Thayer | Go to book overview

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ECONOMIC AND DOMESTIC ISSUES. 1760-1775

A S ALREADY SHOWN, people on the Pennsylvania frontier blamed the East for their suffering during the Indian wars. After the wars this feeling tended to be dispelled although, naturally, there remained in the minds of many a lingering resentment. Differences in national origin, religion, language, and especially social position, gave rise to distrust and jealousy in the minds of both easterners and westerners. Certain divergent economic interests had also a tendency to produce sectional ill-feeling. But this last factor has been considerably exaggerated in history. It would be sounder, it appears, for the historian to stress the common economic interests of the East and the West which tended to alleviate and in time remove much of the distrust and ill-feeling.

Some historians have made much of an alleged discrimination in legislation on the part of the East against the West. In a previous chapter it was shown that the Assembly, rather than discriminating in taxation, went so far as to cancel the taxes in war-torn areas and passed laws to alleviate the conditions of sufferers in other ways. Neither was there discrimination against the West in the spending of money for internal improvement. The representatives of the agrarian interest of the eastern counties, it is true, didn't care to see provincial funds used for building roads in the west, but they were consistent, at least, in saying that roads were a local problem for each county to solve. The eastern counties had built their roads, let the West do the same. The Philadelphia commercial interest, however, took a favorable view toward spending provincial funds for internal improvement in that their prosperity depended to a large degree upon the growth and expansion of the West.

After the French and Indian War there was a great outburst of interest in internal improvements in Pennsylvania. The early American wars A had the tendency to reveal forcibly the need for more and better transportation facilities. The customary western expansion, which followed swiftly upon the close of each war, further emphasized the need for roadways into the west. After 1763 the frontier rapidly gave way and receded toward Pittsburgh. Immigration from Europe again set in and swelled the tide of settlers seeking new homes beyond the Susquehanna. All Pennsylvania was interested in improving trans

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