Equality and Inequality In Ancient Pennsylvania

To the Englishman William Moraley, Pennsylvania was a paradise. Moraley was an indentured servant who went to Pennsylvania in 1729. The colony was “the best poor man’s country in the world,” Moraley asserted in his autobiography. As we know, multitudes from many lands did go there. Did they settle in the “best poor man’s country”? Or was Moraley’s conclusion unwarranted? Historians want to know how much opportunity the countless immigrants to colonial Pennsylvania found. You will use primary sources to investigate wealth holding and opportunity in this “best poor man’s country.” The challenge will be to separate fact from opinion, reconcile conflicting evidence, determine whether sources are representative or atypical, and understand the outlook of the subjects. Questions: 1) How much equality and inequality existed in this society? 2) What was the pattern of wealth distribution? 3) What were the opportunities for indentured servants, once free, to improve their lot in this society? 4) Is there evidence that some people were getting richer at the expense of others?

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