The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as Pennsylvania Colony, was a North American colony granted to William Penn on March 4, 1681 by King Charles II of England. Pennsylvania got its name for William Penn's father and the Latin word: sylvania, meaning: "forest". The name itself means "Penn's Woods".
One of the Middle Colonies, Pennsylvania was a proprietary colony. Unlike other proprietary colonies, its taxes were enforced by the British Parliament. The colony was demarcated by the 42nd and 39th lines of latitude on the north and south and from the Delaware River in the east with an east-west width of 5 degrees of longitude It was bordered by the colonies of New York, Maryland (defined by the historic 1763 Mason-Dixon line geographical survey), and New Jersey. The three counties of the Delaware Colony, captured from the Dutch, were deeded to William Penn by the Duke of York in 1682, but regained a separate existence in 1704
The first governor was William Markham, a relative of Penn.
William Penn and his fellow Quakers heavily imprinted their religious values on the Pennsylvania government. Among the most radical belief was religious freedom for everyone, as well as fair dealings with Native Americans. This extreme tolerance led to significantly healthier relationships with the local Native tribes (the Lenape and Susquehanna, mainly) than most other colonies had. It also encouraged the rapid growth of Philadelphia into America's most important city, and of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country hinterlands, where German (or "Deutsch") religious and political refugees prospered on the fertile soil and spirit of cultural creativeness. Among the first groups were the Mennonites, who founded Germantown in 1683; the Northkill Amish Settlement, established in 1740, is identified as the first Amish settlement in the Americas.
In 1737, the Colony exchanged a great deal of its political goodwill with the Native Lenape for more land. The colonial administrators claimed that they had a deed dating to the 1680s in which the Lenape-Delaware had promised to sell a portion of land beginning between the junction of the Delaware River and Lehigh River (near present Wrightstown, Pennsylvania) "as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half." This purchase has become known as the Walking Purchase. Although the document was most likely a forgery, the Lenape did not realize that. Provincial Secretary James Logan set in motion a plan that would grab as much land as they could possibly get and hired the three fastest runners in the colony to run out the purchase on a trail which had been cleared by other members of the colony beforehand. The pace was so intense that only one runner actually completed the "walk," covering an astonishing 70 miles (113 km). This netted the Penns 1,200,000 acres (4,860 km²) of land in what is now northeastern Pennsylvania, an area roughly equivalent to the size of the state of Rhode Island in the purchase. The area of the purchase covers all or part of what are now Pike, Monroe, Carbon, Schuylkill, Northampton, Lehigh and Bucks counties. The Lenape tribe fought for the next 19 years to have the treaty annulled, but to no avail. The Lenape-Delaware were forced into the Shamokin and Wyoming Valleys, which were already overcrowded with other displaced tribes.
1751 was an auspicious year for the colony. Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital in the British American colonies, and The Academy and College of Philadelphia, the predecessor to the private University of Pennsylvania, both opened.
Despite Quaker opposition to slavery, by 1730 colonists had brought about 4,000 slaves into Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Gradual Abolition Act of 1780 was the first emancipation statute in the colonies which would become the United States. The census of 1790 showed that the number of African-Americans had increased to about 10,000, of whom about 6,300 had received their freedom.
Heightened revolutionary sentiment among Pennsylvanians, along with the pre-eminent position of Philadelphia, made that city the natural choice for meetings of the Continental Congress, the first coordinated act towards independence. The publication of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 by locally-elected revolutionaries concluded the history of the Colony and began the history of the Commonwealth.