THE seeds of civilization that were planted in western Pennsylvania were derived from plants that had matured in Europe, especially in the British Isles and Germany, and in the English colonies in America in the second half of the eighteenth century. The civilized world of the day, at least in the minds of western Europeans, consisted of western Europe. The rest of the globe was merely heathendom, and Christian nations felt that they had the right to exploit it to promote their own advancement in the only part of the world that really mattered--western Europe. Yet their own civilization at the middle of the century was not much of an improvement on that of medieval times. Despite the Renaissance; the inventions of printing, gunpowder, and improved nautical instruments; and the tremendous expansion of the known world, the life of the common man was not very different from what it had been in the Egypt of the Pharaohs. In 1750 the old feudal aristocracy still dominated western Europe, and the world was envisioned as made up of the rulers, the clerics, and the workers. Europe was overwhelmingly agricultural, tools and implements were crude, and goods were manufactured by hand. Considering the cost of handicraft products, there was a surprising amount of commerce; but transportation was still carried on by cart, pack horse, or sailboat, and roads were worse than they had been fifteen hundred years before.
The religious wars that followed the Reformation had long been over, but the animosities implanted by them still burned intensely. The universal church had been succeeded by established churches, varying from state to state and each intolerant of dissent. Radical religious sects, attempting to set rigid moral and theological standards, flourished, especially among the common people; but so also did vice, crime, and immorality. Formal education was controlled by the
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Publication information: Book title: The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania. Contributors: Solon J. Buck - Author, Elizabeth Hawthorn Buck - Author, Clarence McWilliams - Illustrator. Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press. Place of publication: Pittsburgh. Publication year: 1939. Page number: 115.