The Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1776-1790

By Robert L. Brunhouse | Go to book overview

I
THE BACKGROUND

POPULATION AND COMMUNICATION

DURING the early years of the Revolution between 270,000 and 280,000 persons lived within the boundaries of Pennsylvania. The density was greatest in Philadelphia and vicinity, and decreased in proportion as one moved north and west. The northwestern section of the State had no white inhabitants during the period from 1775 to 1790. What effect the war had on the population is difficult to determine, but after peace came there was a steady immigration into the State. Some clue to the increase can be gained by comparing the figures on which seats in the assembly were apportioned. In 1779 there were over 54,000 taxables in the State; by 1786 the number had increased to over 66,000. This represents a gain of twenty-two per cent within a period of seven years. The latter figure indicates a total population of about 350,000 people. The first federal census of 1790 credited the State with 434,373 persons. This was a phenomenal increase in view of the emigrations to Kentucky and Canada of which contemporaries complained during the years following the close of the war.1

Although the great majority of the people engaged in agricultural pursuits, urban centers, especially the city of Philadelphia, were significant in the political life of the new State. According to one estimate Philadelphia increased from 28,000 souls in 1769 to over 34,000 in the first year of the war. During the British occupation its numbers decreased to 25,000, but by 1783 it was boasting over 37,000. At the end of the decade more than 42,000 persons were counted in the city and its suburbs. Compared with Philadelphia, other communities in 1790 were mere villages except for Lancaster with 3,773 inhabitants, York with about 3,000 inhabitants, and Reading with 2,225. Harrisburg could boast only 800 people, Pittsburgh 376, and Wilkes-Barre 300. In Philadelphia in 1790 about one-fifth of the people were employed in domestic and personal service, a third in trade and transportation, and over two-fifths in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits. Among the latter group carpenters, shoemakers, and tailors were the most numerous.2

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The Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1776-1790
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Foreword iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • I - The Background 1
  • II - The Rise of the Radicals (1776-1778) 18
  • III - Triumph of Radicalism (1778-1780) 53
  • IV - The Conservatives Emerge (1780-1782) 88
  • V - Conservatives Ride to Power (1782-1784) 121
  • VI - Counter-Revolution Halted (1783-1786) 156
  • VII - Triumph of the Counter-Revolution (1786-1790) 191
  • Notes 229
  • Abbreviations 231
  • Bibliography 299
  • Appendix I - Maps 319
  • Appendix II - Tabulation of Votes 327
  • Notes 345
  • Index 347
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