Letter from the Governor

The Tercentenary Issue is a special edition of 8 features commemorating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Pennsylvania, published March 1981.



Dear Fellow Pennsylvanian:

As we prepare to commemorate Pennsylvania’s 300th birthday, it is fitting that we take note of the principles and values which formed the foundation upon which our state’s distinctive character developed. It is also important to consider how these principles and values, coupled with the events and personalities of succeeding years, helped to shape
the Commonwealth we know today.

Pennsylvania was in many respects unique among the original thirteen colonies of British America – in the degree to which government was vested in the hands of its people, in the relative complexity of its economy, and in the ever-growing ethnic diversity which, from the beginning, made up its population. Out of this diversity evolved a unity, based on commonly shared values, which is not merely political, but, in the broadest sense, social and cultural.

In a very important respect, of course, Pennsylvania’s character was influenced by the views (many of them extremely radical for the day) held by its founder, William Penn. It was Penn who insisted that freedom of conscience applied to political freedoms as well as to religious liberty; who made the colony a haven for all, regardless of national origin; and who promoted crafts, and commerce, as well as agriculture. Yet with all his far-seeing vision, even Penn could not have foretold the great trends and forces which would make Pennsylvania an industrial giant, a blend of immi¬≠grants from virtually every ethnic and cultural group in the world, and a major element in an independent nation.

If we are to understand and fully appreciate our heritage with the clarity necessary to preserve and perpetuate it, it is vital that we under¬≠stand the process by which it has developed. There is no more appropriate time to do so – to take stock of the past, to consider the present, and to look as best we can to the future — than such a memorable occasion as the 300th anniversary of our state’s founding.

For that reason, it is especially fitting that this journal, devoted as its name implies to the great heritage we share as Pennsylvanians, should address itself to the diversity which characterizes our beginnings and the unity to which it has given rise.

Dick Thornburgh