Executive Director’s Message

From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

Next year, 1981, marks the beginning of the Tercenten­ary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In order to prepare for commemorative events, Governor Thornburgh signed Executive Order #1980-2 on January 23, 1980 establishing the Pennsylvania 300th Birthday Planning Committee, chaired by Mrs. Marion Bell and former Gover­nor George M. Leader. A total of fifty-five members were appointed representing executive agencies (including the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission), the legislature, the judiciary and the interested public at large.

In its report to the governor. the committee recom­mended that the celebration begin on Charter Day, March 14, 1981, with an appropriate state-sponsored event. Pro­motion of other events throughout the state, as sponsored by agencies of state government and local organizations, would continue through June 1983. The primary focus for these events, however, is recommended for 1982.

In order to describe the conceptual mood for the Ter­centenary celebration suggested by the committee, it is best to quote from its report:

“A number of lessons can be taken from the experience of the Pennsylvania Bicentennial Commission, but none of these is more important than the necessity of involving the whole of the Commonwealth in any state-sponsored cele­bration.

“The Committee was well aware of traditional inclina­tions toward celebrating only those historical events of 300 years ago at their respective sites. However, this Committee chose to take a more creative and all encompassing posture in developing recommendations for a tercentenary celebra­tion of relevance to all Pennsylvania.

“The conceptual vehicle to be employed to insure a statewide relevancy is the heritage of freedom William Penn left to all Pennsylvanians and indeed all Americans. The ideas and ideals or Penn’s ‘Holy Experiment’ are just as important in Erie as they are in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre. Scranton. Montrose and in all the sixty-seven counties. Penn’s founding principles of govern­ment, justice and human dignity, as first institutionalized in the Frame of Government, are the keystone of Pennsyl­vania and American law, which has been enjoyed here and coveted by citizens of the world to the present day.

“The key to Penn’s tolerant society was diversity: that is a diversity of people, faiths. professions and lifestyles on his new land …. Our numerous ethnic cultures, racial groups, and religious faiths, living and working together albeit somewhat in1perfectly, demonstrate the wisdom and practicability of the Founder’s ideas and encourage the pursuit or his challenging ideals. We the people embody Penn’s legacy to be celebrated upon the 300th year of our evolution as a society in this land. Our cultures, religions and professions should be celebrated in the spirt of an accounting of past achievements; present pleasures; and future aspirations …. ”

We at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com­mission eagerly await the beginning of this celebration. In order to help our readers better enjoy the festivities, future issues of Pennsylvania Heritage will include information on the scheduled events and a special Tercentenary edition will be available in March of next year.

William J. Wewer
Executive Director