October 2020, Vol. 144, No. 3
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.”
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.
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)
Rethinking America: From Empire to Republic by John M. Murrin (review)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
Troublesome Women: Gender, Crime, and Punishment in Antebellum Pennsylvania by Erica Rhodes Hayden (review)
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)
Nature and the Environment in Amish Life by David L. McConnell, Marilyn D. Loveless (review)
Russell C. Powell