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The Pennamite-Yankee War (or Wars) is the name given to fighting which occurred between 1769 and 1799 between settlers from Connecticut who claimed the land along the North Branch of the Susquehanna River in the present Wyoming Valley, and settlers from Pennsylvania who laid claim to the same territory. Because the combatants were from Connecticut and Pennsylvania, the wars are also known as the Yankee-Pennamite Wars.[1]

Pennsylvania with the Connecticut claim across the northern part of the state. Map from Fisher, 1896.

Contents

Grants to Connecticut and Penn

King Charles II of England had granted the land to Connecticut in 1662, and also to William Penn in 1681. The charter of each colony assigned the territory to the colony; thus overlapping land claims existed. Both colonies purchased the same land by treaties with the Indians. Connecticut sent settlers to the area in 1754. Yankee settlers from Connecticut founded the town of Wilkes-Barre in 1769. Armed bands of Pennsylvanians (Pennamites) tried without success to expel them in 1769-70, and again in 1775. The "wars" were not particularly bloody—in the First Pennamite war, two men from Connecticut were killed and one from Pennsylvania in the course of two years. Pennsylvania followed suit and established a settlement through two lessees, Ogden and Stewart.

In 1771, Connecticut's claim was confirmed by King George III. In 1773, more settlers from Connecticut erected a new town, which they named Westmoreland. However, the Pennsylvanians refused to leave, and, in December 1775, the militia of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, actually made an abortive attack on a Connecticut settlement. On July 3, 1778, the infamous Battle of Wyoming occurred, which was an episodic event within the Pennamite-Yankee War period.

Resolution

At the end of the American Revolution, conflicts between the two claimants continued, and in 1782, the Continental Congress overturned the English king's ruling and upheld Pennsylvania's claim to the area. But when the state sought to force the Yankees from the land, another Pennamite war ensued, with Connecticut and Vermont sending men to help the settlers. Umbrage remained until the Pennsylvania Legislature confirmed the various land titles in 1788. The controversy ended in 1799, with the Wyoming Valley becoming part of Pennsylvania, and the Yankee settlers becoming Pennsylvanians with legal claims to their land.

References

  1. ^ Fisher, Sydney George (1896). The Making of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott Company. 

Bibliography

  • Smith, Story of Wyoming Valley, (Kingston, Pa., 1906)

The following printed resources are in the collection of the Connecticut State Library (CSL)

  • Boyd, J. P. The Susquehannah Company, 1753-1803. [CSL call number: F157 .W9 B69 1931]
  • Henry, William (ed.). Documents Relating to the Connecticut Settlement in the Wyoming Valley. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 1990 [CSL call number: F157 .W9 D63 1990 v1, 2].
  • Joyce, Mary Hinchcliffe. Pioneer Days in the Wyoming Valley. Philadelphia: 1928 [CSL call number: F157 .W9 J89].
  • Smith, William. An Examination of the Connecticut Claim to Lands in Pennsylvania: With an Appendix, Containing Extracts and Copies Taken from Original Papers. Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1774 [CSL call number: Wells Collection F157 .W9 S55].
  • Stark, S. Judson. The Wyoming Valley: Probate Records... Wilkes-Barre, PA: Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, 1923 [CSL call number: F157 .W9 S72].
  • Warfle, Richard Thomas. Connecticut's Western Colony; the Susquehannah Affair. (Connecticut Bicentennial Series, #32). Hartford, CT: American Revolutionary Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut, 1979 [CSL call number: Conn Doc Am35 cb num 32].
  • Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Wilkes-Barre (the "Diamond City"), Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Wilkes-Barre, PA: The Committee on Souvenir and Program, 1906 [CSL call number: F159 .W6 W65 1906].

External links

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