Pennsylvania’s Ratification of the 15th Amendment

Black men in Pennsylvania were given the right to vote not once but twice in the 18th and 19th centuries. Pennsylvania’s Constitution of 1776 had permitted tax-paying free Black men to vote. In 1838, however, Black suffrage became a point of high contention during a new Pennsylvania constitutional convention. Opposing groups sent various petitions to the convention advocating for and against...
read more

Courting the Constitution

If the delegates to the Constitutional Convention were to awaken this sum­mer in Independence Hall from two centuries of sleep, they would undoubtedly enjoy an exciting session. George Washington as president of the convention, after persuading Ben Franklin to stop tinkering with his electric table light, would call the Convention to order. Upon learning that the government devised by them had...
read more

The Consequences of the American Revolution in Pennsylvania

One of the more interesting and controversial aspects of the American Revolution concerns its consequen­ces upon colonial institutions and society in general. Was the society left almost unchanged by a movement fun­damentally conservative in its causes, or was it profoundly altered by a revolution radical in its results, if not in its origins? Specifically, what happened to the society of...
read more

James Wilson, Forgotten Founding Father

Carlisle buzzed that night with festivities. On the streets of the usually quiet little Cumberland County town bonfires blazed while spirited political speeches rang out on every corner, all in celebration of Pennsylvania’s vote to ratify the new Constitution of the United States. The Federalists had finally won their cause, and it was time to savor the victory. But not everyone was in a...
read more

Governor Tom Ridge’s Letter of Resignation

The peaceful, orderly transfer of political power is a hallmark of a mature democracy, occurring every year at various levels of government. In nearly every instance, it has become uneventful and routine; however, several transfers of power in the history of the Keystone State have been prompted by unusual circumstances. Since the creation of the office of governor, as required by Article II,...
read more

Bookshelf

Documenting Pennsylvania’s Past: The First Century of the Pennsylvania State Archives Edited by Willis L. Shirk Jr. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2003 (242 pages, paper, $32.95) A detailed and highly graphic centennial celebration in print, Documenting Pennsylvania’s Past: The First Century of the Pennsylvania State Archives offers readers a glimpse at the vast...
read more