An Early History of Carlisle, PA

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The following article is brought to you by the lawyers of sexual abuse in Carlisle. We encourage residents and visitors to learn more about the history of the borough.

History of Carlisle

Carlisle is a borough within the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania. Also the county seat of Cumberland County, it is the smaller principal city of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area. The area that is present-day Carlisle is said to have been settled in as early as 1720 by French-born fur trader James Le Tort who built his cabin there. In 1751, the Pennsylvania Assembly and the Penn family designated the settlement of Carlisle as the seat of Cumberland County. That same year, American engineer and surveyor John Armstrong Sr. laid out a plan for the settlement. Its name came from its sister town of Carlisle in Cumberland, England.

During the American Revolutionary War, Carlisle was a supporter of the Patriot cause. The settlement also served as a munitions depot that was later developed into the United States Army War College.

Carlisle continued to be a part of the early development of the U.S. through the rest of the century. In 1773, the Carlisle Grammar School was developed by Benjamin Rush. It would be the first college founded in the new United States. On April 13, 1782, the Borough of Carlisle was incorporated. In 1794, President George Washington assembled a troop in the borough during the Whisky Rebellion. Before the American Civil War, it was also a stop on the Underground Railroad. A cannonball dent can be seen on one of the columns of the county courthouse from when General Fitzhugh Lee led an army of the Confederacy to attack and shell the borough in the Battle of Carlisle on July 1, 1863.

As of 2019, Carlisle has an estimated population of 19,198 people. In 2010, it was rated as the second-best place to raise a family by Forbes.

Learn more: What's In Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

United States Army War College

The United States Army War College (USAWC), situated in Carlisle, is a U.S. Army educational institution that provides graduate-level instruction to senior military officers and civilians in order to prepare them for senior leadership responsibilities and assignments. Established in 1901, the institution has a total enrollment of 800 students. Half of them are in an on-campus, full-time residency program, and the other half is in a two-year-long distance learning program. A master's degree in Strategic Studies will be granted to graduates upon completion.

Carlisle Barracks

Home of the USAWC, Carlisle Barracks is the second-oldest active military base in the nation. Constructed in 1757, during the French and Indian War, the United States Army facility also housed the Carlisle Indian Industrial School from 1879 through 1918. Operated by the Department of Interior, it was the first off-reservation boarding school created to educate and assimilate Native American children into European-American culture. After the school was closed, the property was given back to the War Department.

Today, aside from housing the USAWC, Carlisle Barracks is also the site of the United States Army Heritage and Education Center. Formed in 1999, the U.S. Army's primary historical research facility is open to the public as an archive and museum complex.

Dickinson College

Dickinson College was the first college established after the formation of the United States. Chartered on September 9, 1783, just six days after the Treaty of Paris was signed, it was first founded in 1773 by Benjamin Rush as the Carlisle Grammar School. The private liberal arts college offers a bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree in 22 disciplinary and 20 interdisciplinary majors. On July 1, 1947, the college was designated on the Pennsylvania Historical Marker.

In 1834, the Dickinson School of Law was established adjacent to the college campus. Serving as its law department, the school received an independent charter in 1890. As of 2000, it has merged with Pennsylvania State University to become a public law school, the Penn State Dickinson Law.

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