Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ma and Pa of the USA: Massachusetts and Pennsylvania

Years ago I observed the aptness of the US postal abbreviations (introduced in 1963) of MA for Massachusetts and PA for Pennsylvania, as these states are indeed the Ma (mother) and Pa (father) of the USA, playing preeminent roles among the Thirteen Colonies during the American Revolution.

I supposed then that others must have thought of this before me. However as Google did not turn up any evidence of others making this observation, I hereby share it.

A conspectus of the crucial roles of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania in the American Revolution follows:

Revolutionary Massachusetts (source: Wikipedia)

Massachusetts was a center of the movement for independence from Great Britain, earning it the nickname, the "Cradle of Liberty". Colonists here had long had uneasy relations with the British monarchy, including open rebellion under the Dominion of New England in the 1680s. The Boston Tea Party is an example of the protest spirit in the early 1770s, while the Boston Massacre escalated the conflict. Anti-British activity by men like Sam Adams and John Hancock, followed by reprisals by the British government, were a primary reason for the unity of the Thirteen Colonies and the outbreak of the American Revolution. The Battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the American Revolutionary War and were fought in the Massachusetts towns of Concord and Lexington. Future President George Washington took over what would become the Continental Army after the battle.
His first victory was the Siege of Boston in the winter of 1775–6, after which the British were forced to evacuate the city. The event is still celebrated in Suffolk County as Evacuation Day. In 1777, George Washington and Henry Knox founded the Arsenal at Springfield, which catalyzed many innovations in Massachusetts' Connecticut River Valley.

Boston


Boston was the center of revolutionary activity in the decade before 1775, with Massachusetts natives Samuel Adams, John Adams, and John Hancock as leaders who would become important in the revolution. Boston had been under military occupation since 1768. When customs officials were attacked by mobs, two regiments of British regulars arrived. They had been housed in the city with increasing public outrage.

In Boston on March 5, 1770, what began as a rock-throwing incident against a few British soldiers ended in the shooting of five men by British soldiers in what became known as the Boston Massacre. The incident caused further anger against British authority in the commonwealth over taxes and the presence of the British soldiers.

Boston Tea Party


One of the many taxes protested by the colonists was a tax on tea, imposed when Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, and retained when most of the provisions of those acts were repealed. With the passage of the Tea Act in 1773, tea sold by the British East India Company would become less expensive than smuggled tea, and there would be reduced profit making opportunities for Massachusetts merchants engaged in the tea trade. This led to protests against the delivery of the company's tea to Boston. On December 16, 1773, when a tea ship of the East India Company was planning to land taxed tea in Boston, a group of local men known as the Sons of Liberty sneaked onto the boat the night before it was to be unloaded and dumped all the tea into the harbor, an act known as the Boston Tea Party.



The Boston Tea Party prompted the British government to pass the Intolerable Acts in 1774 that brought stiff punishment on Massachusetts. They closed the port of Boston, the economic lifeblood of the Commonwealth, and reduced self-government. The Patriots formed the Massachusetts Provincial Congress after the provincial legislature was disbanded by Governor Gage. The suffering of Boston and the tyranny of its rule caused great sympathy and stirred resentment throughout the Thirteen Colonies. On February 9, 1775, the British Parliament declared Massachusetts to be in rebellion, and sent additional troops to restore order to the colony. With the local population largely opposing British authority, troops moved from Boston on April 18, 1775, to destroy the military supplies of local resisters in Concord. Paul Revere made his famous ride to warn the locals in response to this march. On the 19th, in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, where the famous "shot heard 'round the world" was fired, British troops, after running over the Lexington militia, were forced back into the city by local resistors. The city was quickly brought under siege. Fighting broke out again in June when the British took the Charlestown Peninsula in the Battle of Bunker Hill after the colonial militia fortified Breed's Hill. The British won the battle, but at a very large cost, and were unable to break the siege. Soon afterwards General George Washington took charge of the rebel army, and when he acquired heavy cannon in March 1776, the British were forced to leave, marking the first great colonial victory of the war. This was the last significant fighting in present-day Massachusetts; the 1779 Penobscot Expedition took place in the District of Maine, then part of the Commonwealth. In May 1778, the section of Freetown that later became Fall River was raided by the British, and in September 1778, the communities of Martha's Vineyard and New Bedford were also subjected to a British raid.

The fighting brought to a head the political opposition to the crown that had been brewing throughout the colonies, and on July 4, 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted in Philadelphia. It was signed first by Massachusetts resident John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress. Soon afterward the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of Boston from the balcony of the State House.

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Revolutionary Pennsylvania (source1, source2)



First and Second Continental Congresses


The economic importance and central location of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the Thirteen Colonies made it a natural center for America's revolutionaries. When the Founding Fathers of the United States convened the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774, 12 colonies sent representatives.


The Second Continental Congress, which also met in Philadelphia (in May, 1775), drew up and signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia but when that city was captured by the British, the Continental Congress escaped westward, meeting at the Lancaster courthouse on Saturday, September 27, 1777, and then to York. There they drew up the Articles of Confederation that formed 13 independent colonies into a new nation.



Constitutional Convention

The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from Great Britain. Although the Convention was intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington to preside over the convention. The result of the Convention was the United States Constitution, placing the Convention among the most significant events in the history of the United States.

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on December 12, 1787, five days after Delaware became the first.


Temporary US Capital  (source)


Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the United States, 1790–1800, while the Federal City was under construction in the District of Columbia.

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