Carlisle is a borough in and the county seat of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, United States. The name is locally pronounced as in British English with emphasis on the second syllable. Carlisle is located within the Cumberland Valley, a highly productive agricultural region. As of the 2010 census, the borough population was 18,682. Including suburbs in the neighboring townships, 37,695 live in the Carlisle urban cluster. Carlisle also is an exurb of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to the east.
Carlisle is the smaller principal city of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry counties in South Central Pennsylvania. In 2010, Forbes rated Carlisle and Harrisburg the second-best place to raise a family.
The U.S. Army War College, located at the Carlisle Barracks, caters to high-level military personnel and civilians and prepares them for strategic leadership responsibilities. Carlisle Barracks ranks among the oldest U.S. Army installations and the most senior military educational institution in the United States Army. Carlisle Barracks is home of the United States Army Military Heritage Museum.
American pioneer John Armstrong, Sr., circa 1751 laid the plan for the settlement of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Scots-Irish immigrants settled in Carlisle and farmed the Cumberland Valley. They named the settlement after its sister town of Carlisle, Cumbria, England and even built its former jail-house (which Cumberland County now uses as general government offices) to resemble Carlisle Citadel. In 1757, Colonel-Commandant John Stanwix made his headquarters there, and was later promoted to Brigadier-General later in the year on December 27, 1757. Fort Stanwix is named for him. John Armstrong, Sr., founder of the town, fathered John Armstrong, Jr., born in Carlisle in 1758. It is interesting to note that John Stanwix sat in Parliament as Member for Carlisle during the 1740s, that his surname 'Stanwix' is the name of a historic village (now suburb) to the north of Carlisle, Cumbria, and that the surname 'Armstrong' is an old Reiver name common to the Anglo-Scottish border and the Carlisle district.
The Carlisle Grammar School (now Dickinson College) began as a Latin school on the frontier in 1773.
Carlisle was incorporated as a borough on April 13, 1782. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, developed Carlisle Grammar School and chartered it as Dickinson College, the first new college founded in the newly recognized United States. The 15th U.S. president, James Buchanan, graduated from Dickinson College in 1809. In response to a planned march in favor of the United States constitution in 1787, Anti-Federalists instigated a riot in Carlisle. During the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, the troops of Pennsylvania and New Jersey assembled in Carlisle under the leadership of President George Washington. George Washington worshiped in the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Hanover Street and High Street. Revolutionary legend Molly Pitcher died in the borough in 1832, and her body lies buried in the Old Graveyard.
The Dickinson School of Law, founded in 1834 and affiliated then with Dickinson College, ranks as the fifth-oldest law school in the United States and the oldest law school in Pennsylvania. A general borough law of 1851 (amended in 1852) authorizes a burgess and a borough council to administer the government of the borough of Carlisle. Carlisle served as a stop on the Underground Railroad before the American Civil War.
An army of the Confederate States of America under General Fitzhugh Lee attacked and shelled the borough during the Battle of Carlisle on July 1, 1863, part of the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War. On a column in front of the historic county courthouse, one still can see evidence of the destruction of the cannonballs.
United States Army Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt founded Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1879 as the first federally supported school for American Indians off a reservation. The United States government maintained the school, housed at Carlisle Barracks as an experiment in educating Native Americans in the United States and teaching them to reject tribal culture and to adapt to white society. Richard Henry Pratt retired from the Army in 1903 and from supervising the school as its superintendent in 1904. Athletic hero Jim Thorpe entered the school in 1907 and joined its football team under coach Glenn Warner ("Pop" Warner) in 1908. Playing halfback, Jim Thorpe led the team to startling upset victories over powerhouses Harvard, Army, and the University of Pennsylvania in 1911-12, bringing nationwide attention to the school. Carlisle Indian School closed in 1918.
The Dickinson School of Law ended its affiliation with Dickinson College in 1914 and reorganized as an independent institution. Dickinson School of Law merged into The Pennsylvania State University in 1997 as Penn State Dickinson School of Law.