National German-American Day is celebrated by Presidential Proclamation since 1987. This day was chosen because in 1683 German immigrants founded the community of Germantown, Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1682 by William Penn. The City of Brotherly Love was originally laid out in a grid system with many parks. Today Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the United States. Children can learn some “Philadelphia Firsts” at: Philadelphia Firsts.
Jeremiah Dixon and Charles Mason started to survey the Mason-Dixon Line in 1763. This line marked the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland. They finished their work on December 26, 1767. Originally their work was to settle a very contentious land dispute between the Penn family (Pennsylvania) and the Calvert family (Maryland). Later, as the Civil War approached, the line somewhat divided the country into the north and the south. Older children can learn much, much more at: Mason-Dixon Line.
Pennsylvania became the second state of the United States by ratifying the Constitution in 1787. William Penn received a charter for the colony in 1681 and named it after his father. The name means, “Penn’s Woods.” The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were both signed in Philadelphia. Harrisburg is the state capital, and its nickname is the Keystone State. In 1780 it was the first state to end slavery. It is a large transportation center, since it has access to both the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Erie. Children could discover what a keystone is and how it relates to Pennsylvania’s nickname. They could also visit the America’s Library site at: Pennsylvania.
General Washington and his army secretly crossed the Delaware River in 1776 and surprised the British troops in Trenton. The American victory was a milestone in the Revolutionary War. A number of children’s books have been written about the event. Lynne Cheyney’s When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots is an excellent book. They can visit the Washington Crossing State Park site at: Washington Crossing.
Jean Pierre Blanchard made the first balloon flight in the United States in 1793. President George Washington and other officials watched the 46 minute flight, staged in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He landed in New Jersey. Children can read an extensive article on the flight at: Blanchard. Children could also read The First Air Voyage in the United States: The Story of Jean-Pierre Blanchard by Alexandra Wallner.
William Penn received the deed to Pennsylvania from King Charles II in 1681. The deed was in lieu of paying a debt of sixteen thousand pounds. Children can learn more about Wiliam Penn at: William Penn.
First railroad tunnel in the United States was completed in 1834. Slightly over 900 feet in length, the Staple Bend Tunnel, located in Southwestern Pennsylvania, is rock-bored and lined in stone. Engineers needed three years to dig the tunnel. Today it is a National Historic Landmark. Children can learn more at: Staple Bend Tunnel.
Pencil with eraser was patented in 1858 by Hymen Lipman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received patent number 19,783. Children can see the patent at: pencil with easer patent.
John Morton died in 1777. His date of birth is unknown. Active in politics, he was elected from Pennsylvania to serve in both the First Continental Congress and the Second Continental Congress. He signed the Declaration of Independence, and he was part of the committee that wrote the Articles of Confederation. He was the first Declaration of Independence signer to die.