York Town Square

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As U.S. president, John Adams changed his mind about York County

In a previous post, York Town Square explored how Lancaster County begat York and Cumberland counties.
And York County begat Adams in 1800. (And Cumberland begat Franklin, named after Benjamin Franklin, in 1784.)
And many know that Adams County was named for patriot and second U.S. President John Adams.
But it’s not as commonly known how Adams’ view of York County changed during his two visits here… .

He stayed here for less than two months as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1777. And he visited York County briefly in 1800.
Notice the difference:
— 1777: “In Politiks they are a breed of Mongrels and Neutrals, and benumbed with a general Turpor” and “The People are chiefly Germans, who have (church) Schools in their own Language, as well as Prayers, Psalms, and Sermons so that Multitudes are born, grow up and die here, without learning the English.”
— 1800: “The multiplication of inhabitants, the increase of buildings for utility, commerce, and ornament, and the extensive improvements of the soil have everywhere given to the appearances around us, a polish of some measure, resembling those countries where art, skill and industry have been exhausted, in giving the highest finishings and the cultivation of the lands for many hundreds years.”
Historian George Prowell gives an interesting side note to Adams’ and George Washington’s York visits.
In 1791, Washington passed through York after deciding the sites for the White House and other public buildings in the District of Columbia.
In 1800, Adams passed through York on his way to Washington, D.C., to take up residence in the White House.