Previous Issue Abstracts


April 2022,  Vol. 146, No. 2

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"A Breach That Must Be Healed": Immigration, Politics, and Voter Suppression in Late Colonial Pennsylvania
Daniel Crown

Between 1740 and 1765, exponential growth and demographic shifts radically reshaped colonial Pennsylvania. German-speaking immigrants filled western territories, where they created communities and counties that complicated colonial elections and power structures. Because many of these immigrants could vote, German colonists played a vital role in a political paradigm resembling the modern two-party system. Initially, supporters of the Penn family resented the fact that that a foreign-born population helped perpetuate Quaker dominance over Pennsylvania's General Assembly. Eventually, however, both the proprietary faction and the Quakers came to fear that Germans might usurp control over the colony should they vote men from their own communities into the lower house. This article describes how these factions staved off this potentiality through blatantly suppressive tactics ranging from strategic districting to physical violence. Due to these measures, voter suppression limited German office-holding until the American Revolution, even as western counties displayed increased interest in proportional ethnic representation. 


Circulation, Subscription, and Circumscription: The Pennsylvania Journal and Newspaper Readership in Revolutionary Philadelphia
Jordan E. Taylor

How many people read newspapers in early America? This is an important question for historians of the American Revolution, who rely on a model of widespread newspaper readership to explain broadscale political change. Yet given the limitations of the documentary record, addressing this question has required scholars to rely on a great deal of guesswork and anecdotal evidence. Building on an analysis of the subscription books of the Pennsylvania Journal from 1766 through early 1774, in dialogue with two Canadian subscription lists from the late eighteenth century, this essay embarks on a more empirically grounded approach to questions of newspaper readership and subscription in revolutionary America. Newspapers were not, as some have concluded, read widely among all classes. Instead, regular access to newspapers usually coincided with social privilege, in ways that trouble some of the prevailing narratives of political mobilization during the American Revolution. 


Foreign Affairs and the Ratification of the Constitution in Pennsylvania
Robert W. Smith

The study of foreign affairs and the ratification of the Constitution is often cast in terms of cosmopolitan Federalists using foreign affairs as an issue against localist Antifederalists. As this article shows, in Pennsylvania, the Federalists paid closest attention to local interests in the public debate, while the Antifederalists argued in national terms. Both sides reflected a mid-Atlantic sensibility regarding commerce. Two elements make Pennsylvania unusual. One was the presence of western Federalism. The other was a ratification convention that considered the Constitution in entirely national terms.


Letter to the Editor
Richard Godbeer

It has come to my attention that during extensive cuts to the manuscript for my 2019 book, World of Trouble: A Philadelphia Quaker Family's Journey through the American Revolution, I accidently removed text from the endnotes for chapter six that included acknowledgments of my indebtedness to two fine essays by David W. Maxey: "The Union Farm: Henry Drinker's Experiment in Deriving Profit from Virtue," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 107 (1983): 607–29; and "Of Castles in Stockport and Other Strictures: Samuel Preston's Contentious Agency for Henry Drinker," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 110 (1986): 413–46. 

January 2022,  Vol. 146, No. 1

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A New Attribution to Benjamin Franklin
Hazel Wilkinson

This article proposes that Benjamin Franklin played a role in the production, and possibly the composition, of a travel narrative by the English theater manager Richard Castelman in 1726. Castelman was shipwrecked off the coast of North Carolina in 1705 and spent several months traveling the east coast before returning to England. Twenty years later he published an account of his adventures, including a substantial description of the city of Philadelphia. Scholars have not previously noticed that The Voyage of Richard Castelman was printed at the press where Benjamin Franklin worked during his first visit to London. This article builds on recent research into Franklin's early printing to suggest that the publication of Castelman's Voyage during Franklin's residence in London may not have been a coincidence. The extent of Franklin's role in bringing Castelman's narrative to the press is uncertain, but a body of circumstantial evidence suggests an intriguing connection that this article explores. Does close analysis of Castelman's text reveal traces of Franklin's influence, or even of his hand?


Growing Pains: Quaker Benevolence and School Expansion in Philadelphia's Educational Marketplace, 1689–1798
Grant Scribner

In 1689, Quaker leaders opened the first Friends school in Philadelphia to educate their children in an environment aligned with their values. The Board of Overseers opened more Friends schools over the course of the eighteenth century and began educating non-Quakers and students who could not afford to pay for schooling, reflecting both their charitable impulses and increasing demand for education in Philadelphia. While administrators and teachers made decisions with a wider educational market in mind, internal debates about Friends' civic and moral responsibilities to non-Quakers also shaped conceptions of education. Though Friends attempted to define the boundaries between Quakerism and the encroaching "spirit of the world," balancing benevolent school expansion with attempts to protect the sect's coherence proved a challenge. Quaker school leaders' decisions about staffing, student enrollment, and the objectives of schooling illustrate broader changes in the city's educational landscape, and the process of Quaker school expansion reflected Friends' deep-seated ambivalence about balancing educational charity and religious purity.


Hard Times, Property Crimes, and the Perils of Making Shift: The Working Poor in Jacksonian-Era Cumberland County, Pennsylvania
Michael B. McCoy

This essay draws on an uninterrupted stretch of indictment records from 1827 to 1846 to consider the relationship between hard times and property crimes in rural Pennsylvania. Focusing on working poor defendants, the piece illustrates how struggling men and women used petty crime as a makeshift response to material hardship and how such a strategy often led to more hard times. By examining the ways in which economic conditions and crime together shaped the lives of laboring people in a rural setting, this essay adds to the rich historiographies of working-class experience and crime in Pennsylvania. Demonstrating that rural crime was born of the same struggle for survival as it was in the Jacksonian city, the essay ultimately suggests that, amid capitalist transformation, the material lives of urban and rural working people—if they were ever that different—grew increasingly uniform.



Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King by Thomas J. Balcerski (review)
John G. McCurdy


In Union There Is Strength: Philadelphia in the Age of Urban Consolidation by Andrew Heath (review)
Catherine McNeur


Men Is Cheap: Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America by Brian Luskey (review)
Jonah Estess



October 2021,  Vol. 145, No. 3

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Christina Larocco


Earlier this year, I unintentionally let my vote-by-mail registration lapse, and so I found myself at Overbrook High School, my local polling place, early on a Tuesday morning. Understandably nicknamed "the castle on the hill," the school looms large over Lancaster Avenue amid (then as now) an assortment of stalwart single-family homes and commercial establishments. In the end, I was happy to have voted in person. The polling place was a model of efficiency, and the school itself is quite marvelous: if the architecture and design are resolutely early twentieth-century, the hallway murals tell a longer story of Black history through the rest of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. 


Elizabeth Milroy, Randall F. Mason


The essays in this issue, large and small, are all over the map—purposefully. Our intention in editing this volume of PMHB is to provoke fellow researchers and readers to look anew at and think deeply about the built environments all around us. Acts of building shape our everyday lives (collectively and individually) by creating location and a sense of place. The histories of these structures and places guide the creation of new environments, both inspiring and tempering contemporary building practice. By "built environment," we mean to invoke a broad set of places, professional fields, and ways of making, designing, thinking, and describing.


William Penn's Imperial Georgic and the Vernacular Landscapes of Pennsylvania in Eighteenth-Century Quaker Journals
Jay David Miller


This essay analyzes changes in the way Quaker writers represented the landscape of Pennsylvania, particularly the economic features of its built environment, over time. I argue that the promotional writing of William Penn constituted an "official" representation of the landscape, using the genre of imperial georgic to highlight the colony's productive and lucrative potential for an audience of investors while minimizing the role of indentured servitude, African enslavement, and Indigenous dispossession in the process of economic development. Eighteenth-century Quaker reformers, however, developed a more "vernacular" portrayal of the landscape that was attentive to the privations of those who inhabited its built environment. In reading the journals of Elizabeth Ashbridge, John Churchman, Jane Hoskens, Daniel Stanton, and John Woolman, I show how Quaker reformers ironically moved beyond the limits of Penn's vision because of the degree to which they took his articulated ideals seriously.


Sanitary Acculturation: The Social History of Progressive Era Public Bath Houses in Philadelphia
Sarah Lerner

In 1895, the Public Baths Association of Philadelphia (PBA) was formed for the purpose of "establishing and maintaining public baths and affording the poor facilities for bathing and the promotion of cleanliness." In 1898, the PBA opened America's first public bath house to offer both bathing and laundry facilities. The six public bathhouses erected in Philadelphia exemplify a period of national experimentation that aimed to establish an American standard of bodily cleanliness though architecture, based on the belief that the long-range strategy of urban moral control could be achieved through influencing behavior and modeling character in a consciously planned urban environment.


Louis I. Kahn and the Frank Furness Connection
Izzy Kornblatt

Following the lead of historians Vincent Scully and Kenneth Frampton, scholars have tended to interpret the architecture of Louis I. Kahn (1901–74) as primarily influenced by the Beaux-Arts system of design, as well as the ancient ruins that Kahn saw during his brief travels around the Mediterranean. As a result, little attention has been paid to the links between Kahn and Frank Furness (1839–1912), the two leading Philadelphia architects of their respective eras. But new research presented here demonstrates that Kahn in fact engaged deeply with Furness's work: he opposed the demolition of Furness-designed banks, proposed the preservation and renovation of Furness's buildings at the Philadelphia College of Art, and even joined the board of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to spearhead the restoration of its Furness-designed building. Careful examination of Kahn's engagement with Furness demonstrates how Kahn's philosophy of design was rooted in an American way of making buildings, and it places Kahn—at last—squarely within a Philadelphia architectural tradition spanning from Furness through the twentieth century.



April 2021,  Vol. 145, No. 2

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The Death of Captain Big Tree: Suicide and the Perils of US–Iroquois Diplomacy in the Early 1790s
Robert M. Owens

Many works examine how murder complicated Indian–White diplomacy, but historians have largely ignored the impact of suicide. Suicide challenged intercultural relations because of differing interpretations. For Whites, it was a shameful result of mental defect. Prior to 1800, Indians tended to see individuals who died by suicide as sympathetic, tragic figures. When an Indian confederacy north of the Ohio killed Gen. Richard Butler at the Battle of the Wabash in 1791, Big Tree, a Seneca war chief allied to the US, claimed Butler as a "friend of my heart," a virtual kinsman, and vowed blood vengeance. He asked to fight the confederates, but in early 1794, Gen. Anthony Wayne grudgingly agreed to a ceasefire. Big Tree, furious and mortified, killed himself. Stunned, Wayne honored him with a military funeral but later tried to exploit the chief. The American response to Big Tree's death revealed both desperation and an inability to understand his act.


A Precarious Freedom: The 1820 Philadelphia Kidnapping Crisis
Elliott Drago

In 1820, the Pennsylvania state legislature passed the nation's first liberty law. Over the course of debating this legislation, state legislators identified specific cases of free African American kidnapping victims, whose harrowing stories conjured questions related to freedom, slavery, and geographic borders. By analyzing these Philadelphia-based cases at the street level, this paper argues that the connections between and among local, state, and national politics necessitated determining whether these victims were legally enslaved or illegally kidnapped. The kidnapping crisis in Philadelphia emerged as a result of the perpetual inability of White politicians to distinguish between fugitive slave retrieval and the kidnapping of free African Americans. Yet African Americans worked with allies, White and Black, to assert their freedom at the local, state, and national levels in a country that all too often reified their status as enslaved people, despite being free or emancipated. This intriguing and complex interracial effort forced state officials to debate the stakes of Black freedom in Pennsylvania and thus revealed the inherent tensions of living as a free African American in a slaveholding republic.


Strikes, Prohibition, and the Politics of Policing in Pennsylvania Coal Country during the 1920s
Thomas R. Pegram

During the 1920s, progressive Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot relied on the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) to bring professionalism and efficiency to state law enforcement. Pinchot hoped to use the state police to cut into the power of the coal and iron police, a state-sanctioned force controlled by private corporations that enforced laws and company policies in corporate-owned mining towns. Pinchot also used the PSP to enforce prohibition against the decentralized and often reluctant authority of county and local law enforcement. Both attempts to advance public interest against private and localized power faltered during coal strikes between 1922 and 1928. Coal companies hired troopers from the state police to organize private police forces, PSP officers joined coal and iron police on strike duty, and state troopers acted violently against strikers. Prohibition enforcement became another method of strikebreaking, and miners feared the PSP as much as the coal company police.


January 2021,  Vol. 145, No. 1

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Two Barbary Captives: Allegiance Through Self-Interest and International Networks, 1785–1796
Brett Goodin

The correspondence and diaries of two American merchant sailors, James Cathcart and Captain Richard O'Brien, who were held captive in Algiers from 1785 to 1795–96, bridge and complicate the two literatures of commercial-diplomatic and informal networks. During this period, the nascent American government and over one hundred of its citizens were held hostage by the North African "Barbary States" of Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli, and Tunis. Using the letters and diaries of the two most prolific captives, Cathcart and O'Brien, this article shows that the captives successfully penetrated diplomatic networks and the minds of sympathetic diplomats such as David Humphreys, who exploited the captives' plight to help his own longstanding campaign of fostering national identity. The captives similarly deployed the pragmatic skills and style of correspondence they learned as merchant sailors to self-interestedly weave their cause for liberty into the emerging national narrative. These interventions echoed the sentiments and rhetoric of participants in Shays's Rebellion (Massachusetts, 1786–87) and the Whiskey Rebellion (western Pennsylvania, 1791–94). Yet perhaps because of the very different (and, in fact, conflicting) goals of American captives in Algiers and rebels in rural Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, the ever-increasing scholarship on American captives in Barbary has overlooked how these nonelite citizens' campaigns were intertwined. Their shared political rhetoric and notions of national identity were developed and deployed thousands of miles apart, likely thanks to their shared backgrounds in self-interested participation in the revolution and the captives' ready access to newspapers and personal correspondence that kept them informed of domestic crises on the American frontier. Literary analysis of American captives in Barbary is typically juxtaposed with Indian captivity narratives, which is especially applicable to fictional Barbary narratives, and a much smaller number of published nonfictional accounts. The comparison does not hold for the more abundant short-form correspondence, which represents a more significant and untapped opportunity for scholarly analysis of the epistolary styles of the two most prominent American captives in Algiers, who echoed and engaged with the rhetoric and ideas of rebels on the young nation's terrestrial frontier as they were being held captive on the maritime frontier. This article argues that, through the captives' political rhetoric and canny exploitation of their positions in informal transnational networks, we can gain new insights into how nonelite citizens, whether in rural Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, or Algiers, drew on a shared language of liberty and expectations of popular participation in policy development to simultaneously influence the terms of national identity and reinvent themselves.

"A Very Large Extent of Virgin Land": Nicholas Biddle, Cotton, and the Expansion of Slavery, 1823–1841
Stephen W. Campbell

This article explores the ways in which Philadelphia banker Nicholas Biddle financed the political economy of cotton and slavery. Most historians have focused on Biddle's political interactions with President Andrew Jackson during the Bank War, either ignoring or minimizing the banker's southern investments in the late 1830s. By examining the complexities of the antebellum era credit system, we can see how Biddle and his business partners provided financing for, functioned within, and extracted profits from a region that depended to a significant extent on the commodification of land, cotton, and slaves. Biddle invested in the South because he saw the expansion of the Cotton Kingdom in lands once occupied by Native Americans and that would soon be worked by enslaved African Americans as consistent with his own nationalistic assumptions and as crucial to the recovery from the Panic of 1837, the bank's profits, and the restoration of American credit abroad.

"Practically Intoxicated": Thomas Edison and the Bechtelsville Ore-Milling Experiment
Daniel Weeks

Thomas A. Edison's foray into iron-ore milling is not as well-known as is his development of the phonograph and electric light. But it was not a minor episode in his inventive life. He spent more than ten years attempting to devise a system that would make ore containing less than 30 percent iron profitable on the US market. Historians have long wondered why he persisted for so long in an effort that ultimately failed. This article argues that the answer, at least in part, can be traced to a little-known ore-milling operation in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, which proved a turning point for Edison as he moved away from electric lighting systems and embraced industrial mining on a large scale in 1889. In iron-ore milling, as in electric lighting earlier, Edison saw himself as the inventor-hero who would save the iron industry in the Northeast.


The Quakers, 1656–1723: The Evolution of an Alternative Community by Richard C. Allen and Rosemary Moore (review)
Cameron Seglias

Standard-Bearers of Equality: America's First Abolition Movement by Paul J. Polgar (review)
Cory James Young

Preserving the White Man's Republic: Jacksonian Democracy, Race, and the Transformation of American Conservatism by Joshua A. Lynn (review)
Lewis Eliot

Marguerita Mergentime: American Textiles, Modern Ideas by Virginia Bayer et al. (review)
Douglas Schaller


October 2020,  Vol. 144, No. 3

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Christina Larocco

I often share the following anecdote when describing my feminist origin story. As a child fascinated by the 1988 presidential election, I determined that I wanted to be president when I grew up. When I shared this ambition with an adult friend of the family, however, his response was blunt: "Well, you can't be the president," he told me, "but you can be the first lady."

At the time, no evidence existed to disprove his assertion. Four years earlier, Geraldine Ferraro had become the first woman to appear on a major party's presidential ticket when Democratic nominee Walter Mondale selected her as his running mate. Sitting vice president George H. W. Bush appeared unsure of how to treat his opponent when the two appeared on the debate stage together in Philadelphia in October 1984. "Let me help you, Mrs. Ferraro," he offered at one point, assuming that he needed to educate her about foreign policy—and depriving the congresswoman of her proper honorific in the process. The Mondale-Ferraro ticket went on to lose a historically lopsided election the next month, and in the thirty years since, only three women have matched Ferraro's accomplishment.

Too Young, Too Strident, Too Radical, Too Dangerous: American Women Pursue Political Voice
Emma Jones Lapsansky, Marion W. Roydhouse

UNITED STATES, August of 2020: on the centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which removed legal restrictions from American women's right to vote, a woman is on a major-party ticket for an American presidential election.1 Much has changed in the near century-and-a-half since Victoria Claflin Woodhull, representing a tiny, marginal political party, made a bid for the presidency, and much has changed in the ways that historians have understood, analyzed, and narrated those changes. The essays gathered here reflect some of the dynamics associated with those changes, including how "politics" has come to connote not only formal political structures of party politics and government but also informal arenas of power and public influence.


Mary Penry and the Politics of Singleness
Scott Paul Gordon

The Welsh immigrant Mary Penry (1735–1804) described herself as a "Great Politician." Residing in the Moravian communities at Bethlehem and Lititz, she eagerly consumed and exchanged political news. The single sisters' house in which she lived was a religious, social, and economic unit in which women governed and sustained themselves. It offered Penry the rare opportunity in early America to remain single and, more generally, exposed a radical alternative to the marriages that seemed compulsory to most eighteenth-century women. Penry thought of the single sisters' house as a profound experiment in how to create and maintain an alternative family.

The Invisible Force of Expectation: Angelina Grimke and the Dilemma of Self-Determination in the Early Women's Movement
Beverly C. Tomek

A pioneer in the women's rights movement, Angelina Grimke is also known for retreating into the home after marrying fellow abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld, just as her career was at its high point. Before her marriage, such male abolitionists as William Lloyd Garrison and H. C. Wright tried to shape Grimke's career, deliberately or unwittingly ignoring their own patriarchal tendencies toward her. Similarly, fellow abolitionists and historians alike have mourned Grimke's retreat to domestic life as a loss to the antislavery and women's rights movements. Despite outside pressure, Grimke made her own decisions and continued to con-tribute significantly to the antislavery cause on her own terms, even after she left the lecture circuit. By choosing her own path, Grimke made the ultimate argument for a woman's right to self-determination.

"To Participate in the Knowledge of Piety, Truth and Justice": African American Women and the Jeremiadic Call for Equality in Antebellum Philadelphia
Lacey P. Hunter

Nineteenth-century Black women's intellectual history has centered primarily on well- known women whose writing and community activism allow scholars to understand more about the lives and contributions of free Black women in the pre–Civil War period. Yet the discussion about such forerunning women as Maria W. Stewart, Jarena Lee, Sojourner Truth, Sarah Mapps Douglass, and others isolates them from the wider communities of African American women in which they existed. This study explores the intersections between elite and working-class Black women in antebellum Philadelphia. Viewed within the context of the poor and working-c lass demographics whose numbers superseded the Black well-t o-do, the efforts of African American women intellectuals and activists take on a more complex meaning. Primarily, the connection of Black socioeconomic class groups in the city offers a unique perspective on the conditions and ideas that informed the intellectual and activist traditions of Black women throughout the nineteenth century.

Interfering Women: Consumer Activism, Charity, and Women's Rights in Frances Harper's Sowing and Reaping
Jessica Conrad

This essay reads Frances Watkins Harper's novel Sowing and Reaping, which pairs boycott with charity, as an artifact of women's empowerment, offering scholars a glimpse into the ways reformers effected women's suffrage through temperance reform. By marshalling the power of the purse through consumer activism, women fought both for better lives, free from the dangers they perceived in the liquor trade, and for the power of legal enfranchisement. Harper's novel calls women's place into question, arguing for women's right to interfere in political, social, and economic spaces in order to defend the stability of the national domestic space.


Reform Work and Politics in the Writings of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Quaker Girls
Abigail Corcoran

WHEN RESEARCHERS LOOK at Quaker family archives, they are often searching for abolitionist correspondence or the financial details of family life, not the emotional reflections of teenage girls. Yet, within the Lewis-Fussell Family Papers at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College and the Sarah Wistar Rhoads Collection at Haverford College Special Collections, the diaries and letters of teenagers Sallie Wistar, Emma Jane Fussell, and Jane Gibbons Rhoads offer a window into how young Quaker women in the mid-nineteenth century located a sense of purpose and use in serving their community. Although these young Quaker girls were not involved in partisan or electoral politics, their desire to serve their communities meant they defined their self-worth in a nascently political way.

Lilith M. Wilson, Trailblazing Socialist Leader and Legislator
Ian Gavigan

OBSERVERS OF PENNSYLVANIA'S POLITICAL scene might have noticed that in 2018, three socialist-affiliated women were elected to the state House of Representatives. What few observers likely know is that, eighty-eight years prior, an Indiana-born labor and socialist leader, Lilith Martin Wilson, became the first socialist woman, the fourteenth woman in general, and the first woman from Berks County elected to the general assembly. In 1930, the working people of Reading sent Wilson and Darlington Hoopes to Harrisburg, where they represented the energized and highly organized Reading socialist movement. Together, they pushed state politics to the left, even as their caucus constituted a miniscule legislative minority. Twice reelected, the pair left a mark on the state's politics few third-party politicians have achieved.

April 2020,  Vol. 144, No. 2

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Albert Gallatin and the Jeffersonian Political Economy, 1801–1813: Revenue, Debt, and the “Community of Interests”
Songho Ha

This article analyzes the ideas and policies of Albert Gallatin, the treasury secretary under presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison between 1801 and 1813. In particular, it highlights the importance ascribed to revenue instead of debt in Gallatin’s policy choices and analyzes the idea of the “community of interests” that Gallatin employed to galvanize the Jeffersonian vision for the new republic. It argues that Gallatin saw individual interests as the basis of the union and that his economic policies sought to strengthen the “community of interests” through internal improvements, free trade, westward expansion, and the establishment of branches of the First Bank of the United States. The article also points to the tragic results of Gallatin’s efforts, which led to increased alienation among, and oppression of, Indigenous peoples and African slaves.


Race, Rank, and Reform in Antebellum Philadelphia Social Dance
Lynn Matluck Brooks

A “Coloured Fancy Ball” held in Philadelphia in February 1828 served as a site not only of social aspiration and political concern but also of violence and satire. This article explores the nature, reportage, ramifications, and outcomes of that dance gathering. Study of the ball’s contexts— social, racial, political, economic, and aesthetic—reveals the varied meanings it held for different parties concerned with this event. This investigation further illuminates ways that sociality, behavior, and aspiration were subjects of national contest as the new United States, exemplified here by its leading revolutionary city, Philadelphia, struggled to determine who and what could be called “American.”

“Dirty Shirts” and “American Eunuchs”: Western Pennsylvania Confronts Its Railroad Investments, 1857–1863
Perry K. Blatz

Municipalities across the East and Midwest sought to speed railroad development in the 1850s by authorizing tens of millions in bonds to subscribe to stock in new projects. Expecting local lines to be completed quickly and to pay dividends consistently, Allegheny County and Pittsburgh anticipated that their more than $4 million in debt would cost little. But a lack of dividends amid economic downturn made the municipalities liable for interest to bondholders, most of whom were from Philadelphia. From 1857 to 1862, Allegheny County and Pittsburgh refused to enact and collect a massive tax increase ordered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Outraged charges of repudiation and rebellion from the east were more than matched by vituperative resistance meetings in the west. Though the two sides compromised in 1863, this bitter dispute deepened anti-railroad sentiment in western Pennsylvania, which would explode in the railroad strike of 1877.

Sailing into Troubled Waters: A German Naval Captain Faces American Justice in World War I
David A. Gilbert

The trial of Captain Max Thierichens of the Imperial German Navy in Philadelphia in 1917 was a national sensation. His ship, the Prinz Eitel Fredrich, first sought refuge in the United States in 1915, but eventually the popularity of the captain and his crew became a liability as the country edged closer to war. In the hands of the infant Bureau of Investigation and the print media, Thierichens’s amorous adventures became federal crimes linked to an international campaign against sex trafficking. A propaganda windfall, these charges reflected the anti-German sentiments generated by the First World War, as well as other early twentieth-century social anxieties. In spite of his conviction and imprisonment, the actual facts of the case are still unclear. The personal and political purposes of the trial, however, are not. Ultimately, these highlight the vulnerability of American institutions to political pressure, popular prejudice, and social fears, especially in wartime.



The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania: A Varied People by Judith Ridner, and: Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the American West, 1765–1776 by Patrick Spero, and: Irish Presbyterians and the Shaping of Western Pennsylvania, 1770–1830 by Peter E. Gilmore (review)
Richard K. MacMaster


The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America by Scott Paul Gordon (review)
Kathleen Telling


Rethinking America: From Empire to Republic by John M. Murrin (review)
Shira Lurie


Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic by Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan (review)
Richard D’Von Daily


McCarthyism in the Suburbs: Quakers, Communists, and the Children’s Librarian by Allison Hepler (review)
Richard P. Mulcahy


America in a Trance by Niko J. Kallianiotis (review)
Jamie Longazel

January 2020,  Vol. 144, No. 1

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Gideon Moor’s Road to Freedom, 1764–1777
Amy C. Schutt, Judith L. Van Buskirk

The story of Gideon Moor reveals previously unexplored instances of black activism dating back to pre-Revolutionary War Pennsylvania. Along with his wife, Jenny, and nine children, Moor was enslaved to George Michael Weiss, a German Reformed minister in the Upper Perkiomen Valley, and his wife, Anna. After the death of the Weisses, Moor launched a campaign for liberation for himself and his family members. Not content with freedom, Moor went to court to claim property rights, using the naturalization process to reinforce his claims. Moor partnered with Quaker antislavery activists in his struggles against injustice. His story deepens understandings of early antislavery organizing and networking. Experienced with the world of his contentious German Reformed neighbors and likely inspired by swelling revolutionary rhetoric, Moor alarmed his opponents as he left a record of initiative and persistence that adds important dimensions to the early history of the abolition movement.

Ending Slavery and Limiting Democracy: Sidney George Fisher and the American Civil War
Daniel W. Crofts

Sidney George Fisher, a well-born Philadelphian, kept a voluminous diary during the Civil War era. It is now owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. In 1967, Nicholas B. Wainwright introduced Fisher to a wider audience through a handsome edited volume, A Philadelphia Perspective: The Diary of Sidney George Fisher Covering the Years 1834– 1871, which presents selections from the original. This article delves deeper into the unpublished diaries to highlight Fisher’s paradoxical dual rejection both of slavery and democracy. Like Fisher, many Northerners who had long been willing to tolerate slavery turned against it during the war. But Fisher continued to think of African Americans as racially inferior, and he also believed that democracy was “as great an evil as slavery.” Accordingly, he opposed extending voting rights to former slaves, and he wanted to take the ballot away from Irish immigrants. Fisher’s diaries complicate efforts to celebrate the Civil War for advancing values that square with modern sensibilities.

An Epidemic’s Strawman: Wilmer Krusen, Philadelphia’s 1918–1919 Influenza Epidemic, and Historical Memory
Jim Higgins

The present article challenges the popular perceptions that historians, documentarians, and policy advisors espouse with respect to the role that Philadelphia’s director of public health, Dr. Wilmer Krusen, played during the city’s uniquely catastrophic outbreak of influenza during the pandemic of 1918–22. The article analyzes the autumn 1918 outbreak and suggests that the portrayal of Krusen as a public health amateur or bumbling incompetent by various authors and multimedia documentaries is misleading. Furthermore, as the threat of epidemics by respiratory viruses—for instance, HPAI H5N1, H1N1, SARS, MERS, and Nipah— appears to increase, public health officials and policymakers may look to history in their own efforts to fashion responses to future urban outbreaks. Historians must take care to avoid incorrect conclusions concerning the failures of Philadelphia’s response to the great influenza epidemic if they wish to make competent suggestions for combating future outbreaks.

“Heat, Humidity and Humbug”: The Integration of the Municipal Swimming Pool in York, Pennsylvania, 1947–1954
M. Alison Kibler, Su Spina

This study of the closure, lease, and integration of the municipal pool in York, Pennsylvania, from 1947–1954 shows the important but limited value of the integration of a single recreational facility. The uneventful opening and use of the integrated pool were points of pride for civil rights activists and other city leaders, but the coalition that worked to open an integrated pool was motivated by more than racial justice. Supportive of integration but not outspoken about civil rights in the years leading up to the reopening of the pool, the businessmen and civic leaders who directed the Boys Club offered the solution to the controversy after other leaders and civil rights organizations lobbied city council, staged protests, and filed lawsuits.1 Building on key legal precedents, the York chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched successful lawsuits to stop York city council from leasing or selling the pool in order to avoid integration; J. W. Gitt’s radical newspaper, the York Gazette and Daily, kept the injustice of segregation on its front page; and then city boosters provided financial backing to fix the embarrassment of the decaying pool.



John Woolman and the Government of Christ: A Colonial Quaker’s Vision for the British Atlantic World by Jon R. Kershner, and: Warner Mifflin: Unflinching Quaker Abolitionist by Gary B. Nash (review)
Felicia Gabriele

Troublesome Women: Gender, Crime, and Punishment in Antebellum Pennsylvania by Erica Rhodes Hayden (review)
Olivia Errico

Ungentle Goodnights: Life in a Home for Elderly and Disabled Naval Sailors and Marines and the Perilous Seafaring Careers that Brought Them There by Christopher McKee (review)
John M. Kinder

Remembering Lattimer: Labor, Migration, and Race in Pennsylvania Anthracite Country by Paul A. Shackel (review)
Thomas Mackaman

Nature and the Environment in Amish Life by David L. McConnell, Marilyn D. Loveless (review)
Russell C. Powell