Joseph Priestley's American Dream

Historian article

By W. A. Speck., published 1st March 2002

Joseph Priestley ended his days in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. This is one of the most delightful spots in the eastern United States. It is situated at the confluence of the North Western and North Eastern branches of the Susquehanna, one of the great rivers of North America, which winds its way down from the Great Lakes to the Chesapeake Bay. Even today it is relatively remote. The nearest town of any size is Harrisburg, the State capital, some fifty miles downstream. In Priestley’s time it was the back of beyond, far from such intellectual centres as New York and Philadelphia, the American equivalents of Leeds and Birmingham, the kind of cities in which he had spent most of his life before emigrating to the States in 1794.

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