Highlights of Pennsylvania's history include its founding as a colony and its fight against the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776. Others include its admittance into the United States after ratifying the U.S. Constitution and its role in the Civil War.
William Penn in 1682 founded the colony of Pennsylvania in 1682 and its capital became Philadelphia. The colony served as a safe home for the Quaker society. King Charles II named it "Pennsylvania" in honor of William Penn's father, which means "Penn's Woods."
Although it was the site of two assemblies of the Continental Congress in 1774 and 1775, the state fought against declaring independence under the leadership of John Dickinson. Dickinson abstained from the final vote, allowing Pennsylvania to join the colonies in unanimous support of independence. Following the Revolutionary War, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on December 12, 1787. The state ratified the document by a vote of 46 for to 23 against.
During the Civil War, the only major battle in the Union states occurred in Gettysburg from July 1 to 3 in 1863. The battle proved to be a pivotal moment in the war as General George Meade's Army of the Potomac withstood General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and forced Lee to retreat back into Confederate territory.