Free-Thinking, 19th-Century Style

Francis Ellingwood Abbot (1836–1903) was nothing if not determined. In 1872, as editor of The Index, the nation’s leading free-thought magazine, he began to muster the full force of his small army of subscribers against what was being called “the God-in-the-Constitution amendment.” A philosopher and theologian, he sought to reconstruct theology in accordance with scientific methodology. From the...
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The ‘State’ of Allegheny

One of the first centers of the organization of the Re­publican party and scene of its first national conven­tion in February, 1856, Allegheny County was strongly for Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860. As the vote count proceeded, one of the leaders kept sending telegrams to Lincoln’s home in Illinois, keeping him up on the news that “Allegheny gives a majority of …...
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Currents

All Aboard! Created by the state legislature in 1963 “to preserve significant artifacts appropriate to the history of railroading in the State and to present through exhibits the highlights of that history,” the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Lancaster County, serves as the Commonwealth’s official museum of railroading. The General Assembly of...
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Currents

Wrecks and Rescues In the early nineteenth century, the shore posed great danger to sailing ships seeking to reach port. The long and lonely approaches to coastal cities, such as Philadelphia, were poorly marked stretches of sand dunes and salt marshes with a few isolated settlements. Unexpected storms with winds blowing from the northeast could suddenly force a ship onto perilous sandbars...
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The 1948 Donora Smog

As early as 1881, the cities of Chicago, Illinois, and Cincinnati, Ohio, had passed laws in attempts to control several types of pollution. Air pollution, however, remained an uncontrolled, unrecognized health hazard until tragedies in the twentieth century demonstrated its lethal effects. In 1930, smog covering the Meuse River Valley in Belgium sent sixty people to their graves, and in 1952...
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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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James A. Finnegan (1906-1958)

At the 1956 Democratic Convention in Chicago, former President Harry S. Truman greeted Philadelphian James A. Finnegan (1906–1958) and asked how he was. “Very good,” replied Finnegan. “I hope it isn’t too good!” Truman quipped. Truman had endorsed New York Governor William Averell Harriman for the Democratic nomination for president. Finnegan served as campaign manager for former Illinois...
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Current and Coming

Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness More than five hundred objects, artifacts, documents, and photographs have been assembled for a landmark exhibit newly opened at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum in Allentown. Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness explores the Keystone State’s impact on the sixteenth president’s life, political career, and rise to power. Lincoln’s great-great-grandfather...
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West Chester Wide Awake Club Ribbon and Hat at State Museum of Pennsylvania

Throughout the North in 1856 the new Republican Party — established just two years earlier by antislavery activists, ex-Whigs, and former Free Soilers — organized marching clubs for young men called, among other names, the Wide Awakes. A paramilitary campaign organization affiliated with the Republican Party during the United States presidential election of 1860 that pitted Abraham Lincoln of...
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Harnessing the Power of the Wind: A Contemporary Use for a Historic Energy Source

Much like the oil farms of the last century were for drillers and riggers, Pennsylvania’s wind farms are proving grounds for engineers and technicians as they harness wind power. The long-standing use of wind power that for centuries propelled sailing vessels has been transformed throughout the world to produce electricity. Farmers used wind power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth...
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