Quakers held their first meeting at Upland (now Chester) in 1675, and came to Pennsylvania in great numbers after William Penn received his Charter. Most numerous in the southeastern counties, the Quakers gradually declined in number but retained considerable influence. The Pennsylvania Germans belonged largely to the Lutheran and Reformed churches, but there were also several smaller sects: Mennonites, Amish, German Baptist Brethren or "Dunkers," Schwenkfelders, and Moravians. Although the Lutheran Church was established by the Swedes on Tinicum Island in 1643, it only began its growth to become the largest of the Protestant denominations in Pennsylvania upon the arrival of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg in 1742. The Reformed Church owed its expansion to Michael Schlatter, who arrived in 1746. The Moravians did notable missionary work among the Indians. The Church of Eng
land held services in Philadelphia as early as 1695. The first Catholic congregation was organized in Philadelphia in 1720, and the first chapel was erected in 1733; Pennsylvania had the second largest Catholic population among the colonies. The Scotch brought Presbyterianism; its first congregation was organized in Philadelphia in 1698. Scotch-Irish immigrants swelled its numbers. Methodism began late in the colonial period. St. George's Church, built in Philadelphia in 1769, is the oldest Methodist building in America. There was a significant Jewish population in colonial Pennsylvania. Its Mikveh Israel Congregation was established in Philadelphia in 1740.
Pennsylvania on the Eve of the Revolution
By 1776, the Province of Pennsylvania had become the third largest English colony in America, though next to the last to be founded. Philadelphia had become the largest English-speaking city in the world next to London. There were originally only three counties: Philadelphia, Chester, and Bucks. By 1773, there were 11. Westmoreland, the last new county created before the Revolution, was the first county located entirely west of the Allegheny Mountains.
The American Revolution had urban origins, and Philadelphia was a center of ferment. Groups of artisans and mechanics, many loyal to Benjamin Franklin, formed grassroots leadership. Philadelphia was a center of resistance to the Stamp Act (1765) and moved quickly to support Boston in opposition to the Intolerable Acts, in 1774.
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