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...
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Banned In Pennsylvania!

During the nearly half century of its powerful reign, no one exemplified the Keystone State’s film censorship board more dramatically than Philadelphian Edna Rothwell Carroll (1894-1981), its chairman from 1939 to 1955. Determined, self-possessed, and intensely devoted to her mission – to protect the public from movies deemed immoral – she had been active in Republican Party...
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The Aaronsburg Story

Thanks to Penn State coach Joe Paterno and his loyal fans, it’s not uncommon to find tens of thousands of motorists jamming Centre County roads on autumn weekends. Fifty years ago this fall – Sunday, October 23, 1949, to be precise – thirty thousand people from throughout the United States converged not in State College to enjoy a football game but in the considerably smaller...
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Muckraking the Governor: Samuel W. Pennypacker Battles Philadelphia’s Press

“… the country press endeavors to ascertain and further the interests of the people around them. In the large cities, what is popularly called ‘Yellow Journalism,’ with its gross headlines, its vulgar and perverted art, it’s relish for salacious events and horrible crimes, and all the other symptoms of newspaper disease, is gaining foothold.” – Governor...
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Fanny M. Jackson and Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth

This idea was deep in my soul. Where it came from I cannot tell. It was in me to get an education and teach my people.” The sentiment was written nearly a century ago, in 1912, by Fanny M. Jackson Coppin (1837-1913), principal of Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth (ICY). All but forgotten today, Coppin and her distinguished career of nearly four decades at the Institute for...
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Keeping the Torch of Justice Burning Brightly: William P. Young

He faced criticism at his appointment, confronted adversity in his duties, and battled poor health in his later years, but he kept the torch of justice burning brightly for all to see, maintaining his dignity and poise at every turn. He was William Pennington Young (1895-1968), the Keystone State’s fifteenth secretary of labor and industry, from 1963 to 1967, during the administration of...
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Minersville V. Gobitis

People all over the world consider America to be a great country, partly because of the many free­doms and rights it offers to its citizens. With these rights, as with any rights, come responsibilities. Some, such as obedience to laws and payment of taxes, are very clear, but oth­ers are more complicated and sometimes even controversial. Such responsibilities include those involving patriotism...
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Letters to the Editor

Over The Top! I enjoyed the Gifford Pinchot story in the Winter 2004 issue [“‘He, On the Whole, Stood First’: Gifford Pinchot,” by Kenneth C. Wolensky], particularly because there is an anecdote that was told to me many, many years ago by Henry Masker, who was the water­craft concessionaire at Promised Land State Park in Pike County. During World War I, Masker and...
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A Conversation about Citizenship

Barbara Franco, executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), recently discussed the importance of citizen training with Pennsylvania’s First Lady, Judge Marjorie O.Rendell, and Richard Stengel, president and chief executive officer of the National Constitution Center, in Philadelphia. Judge Rendell is active in promoting citizenship education through the...
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“In Immortal Splendor”: Wilkes-Barre’s Fugitive Slave Case of 1853

On Saturday morning, September 3, 1853, U.S. Federal Marshal George Wynkoop of Philadelphia and two deputies, John Jenkins and James Crossen, sat down to breakfast in the dining room of the Phoenix Hotel on River Street in the Luzerne County seat of Wilkes-Barre. At the far end of the room was a handsome, powerfully built mulatto named Bill (or, according to various newspaper accounts, known as...
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