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Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania is the county seat of Luzerne County. It was founded in 1769 when a group of settlers led by John Durkee came from Connecticut. It is named in honor of John Wilkes and Isaac Barre, members of the British Parliament who supported the Colonies. Between the years of 1769 and 1799, there was an off-and-on conflict between settlers from Connecticut and those from Pennsylvania, as both claimed the land. Britain’s King Charles II had granted the land to Connecticut in 1662, two years before Britain had ownership of the land. In 1681, after Britain actually owned the disputed land, Charles II included the same land in William Penn’s grant. The land was mentioned in each of the two colonies’ charters. The dispute simmered for the nearly a century. Thomas Paine talked about the dispute in his famous pamphlet “Common Sense,” pointing out that what he called “continental matters” needed to be overseen by a Continental government. Armed Pennsylvanians, called Pennamites, made incursions into the settlement in an effort to expel the Yankees, to no avail. In 1771, King George III confirmed Connecticut’s claim on the land, and more Yankee settlers soon arrived, founding the town of Westmloreland, but the Pennamites stood their ground and refused to leave the area. In 1775, the Northumberland County (Pennsylvania) militia attacked the Yankee settlement, to no avail. After the Revolutionary War was over, the Continental Congress overturned the king’s ruling and affirmed Pennsylvania’s claim, making this the only interstate dispute to be settled by Congress under the Articles of Confederation. However, when Pennsylvania evicted the Yankees, they refused to leave, causing yet another war, this time, involving Vermont, which sent men to fight with Connecticut. The dispute was finally resolved in 1799, with the Yankee settlers becoming Pennsylvanians and thus being granted legal claims to their land.

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