Facts on Pennsylvania:
- William Penn founded Pennsylvania on March 4, 1681 with the goal of creating a colony that allowed for freedom of religion due to his desire to protect himself and the Quakers from persecution while in Great Britain.
- Those who lived on this colony were granted the freedom of worship and religion because the Quakers did not believe on imposing their faith on other people.
- Philadelphia is the first city built on a grid system in 1682 when William Penn planned the system of organized streets to help facilitate future growth. The present city of Philadelphia still runs on a grid system.
- Penn decided to name the east-west streets after trees. Since then, the names of all but 4 streets remain the same.
- The state was founded along the Delaware River near the site of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. This bridge was opening in 1926 and was the world’s longest suspension bridge span until the Ambassador Bridge was built. This bridge connects Pennsylvania with Camden, New Jersey.
- Philadelphia is home to the:
- Philadelphia Phillies who play at Citizens Bank Park,
- Philadelphia Eagles who play at the Lincoln Financial Field, and the
- Philadelphia Flyers who play at the Wells Fargo Center.
- The Delaware River today holds the remains of dead Navy ships and the merchant’s exchange where the first insider trading markets were held.
|Our docent, Joe|
After we checked into our hotel in Philadelphia, we began our day with a tour into the heart of Philadelphia with out guide, Andy. We then met with our docent, Joe, who was retired from the Parks and Recreation in Philadelphia. Through our tour with Joe, we visited residence sites of:
- Thomas Harrison, who was part of the Anti-Slavery society
- Anthony Bennison, who taught slaves to read, write, and count
- Richard Allen, who was a minister and founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
- James Forten, who was a wealthy businessman and abolitionist
- Dr. Benjamin Rush, who signed the Declaration of Independence and attended the Continental Congress, and
- The Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society.
Although these residences or sites do not actually exist today, their legacy remains with the city and many are remembered by placards that tell the story of many important men of the Underground Railroad movement. This walk into history allowed us to step back and look at where historical events took place in our history. Listening to Joe speak about the abolitionist movement allowed us look at Philadelphia in the actual setting where these events took place.
|African American Museum|
Our journey continued to Mother Bethel AME Church where we were greeted by the Pastor who gave insight on the church, then we were lead to the basement museum which held the tomb of Richard Allen and other collectables of the church. Here we learned more about the history of Mother Bethel and how the site was a significant place not only for worship, but it was a site that aided those involved in the Underground Railroad.
Quick Facts on Mother Bethel
- Mother Bethel AME was founded by Richard Allen, who earned his way to buy his freedom from slavery.
- Allen was friends with Absalom Jones and they along with other free Blacks founded the Free African Society on April 12, 1787, this society then lead to the creation of Mother Bethel
- Mother Bethel is now on it’s fourth church on the same site.
- The First Church was opened on July 29, 1794 and was site of shelter for many runaway slaves.
- The Second Church was built in 1805 because there was a high need for a larger building to accommodate the growing congregation.
- The Third Church was built 10 years after Allen’s passing and was made of bricks and stone. This church was completed in 1841 and housed the growing community.
- The Fourth Church, which is the current church standing today, was dedicated on October 26, 1890.
Throughout the day, we continued to reiterate the theme of the struggle for equality. Whether it be the Black slaves fighting for their freedom, to the Quakers who supported the abolitionist movement, to those involved in the AME church of Mother Bethel, they all strived to achieve one goal to view themselves and the people of their community as equals regardless or religion or the color of your skin. At many of the sites we visited, we continued to look at the issues that many of these abolitionists had to face in order to either free themselves or free those who were bound to enslavement. This struggle towards equality was a difficult road traveled and still continues on in our society today in many different aspects.
“To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of preservating friendly relations with the southern white man who is their next door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down, making friends in every manly way of the people of all races, by whom you are surrounded… To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted, I would repeat what I have said to my own race: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your fireside...” -Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Compromise Speech