If one were to draw a map of Pennsylvania in 1776, its boundaries would look far different from those today. Connecticut controlled the northern area of the modern state and Virginia the western area. Securing its boundaries was not the only problem those trying to create Pennsylvania faced in the decades preceding the American Revolution. Settlers had rebelled against imperial and colonial policies in both the east and west after the close of the Seven Years' War in 1763. Colonists openly flaunted the law, especially in areas beyond Philadelphia, and crimes that government officials desperately wanted to punish went untried or ended with the accused acquitted by sympathetic juries. The inability of the Pennsylvania government to stop rebellions, arrest rioters and murderers, and protect itself against assaults from rival British colonies led many to question whether or not government really existed in one of the most populous colonies in British North America. By the end of the Revolutionary era in 1800, however, Pennsylvania's boundaries were secured, and political and legal institutions had been created that earned the loyalty of the people living within its borders. This dissertation is a political history of Pennsylvania that uses the "state" and "frontier" as its two main frames of analysis, demonstrating how central the frontier was to state creation in early America. It treats colonial Pennsylvania as an effort in state-making, a process that was an integral part of the British imperial project in North America. In studying the struggles Pennsylvania waged to secure its imagined jurisdictional boundaries from its foundation in 1682 to the early republic, one issue becomes paramount: the frontier. Throughout the eighteenth century, an increasing number of Euro-American settlers in Penn's woods came to believe that they lived on a frontier, a term that in the eighteenth century had a meaning far different from the meanings affixed to it today. The perception of some settlers that they lived on a frontier posed a political problem for the colonial government, one that would not be resolved until the completion of the new state-building projects spurred by the American Revolution.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 70-10, Section: A, page: 4017. Adviser: Daniel K. Richter. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Pennsylvania, 2009.