Historian of Pennsylvania Exceptionalism: Samuel W. Pennypacker

Reflecting on “the play of forces” that propelled him to Pennsylvania’s governor’s office in 1903, Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker (1843–1916) confidently declared, “there is no such thing as an accident” (a notion popularized by Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis). This was not to say chance plays no part in history because he pronounced with equal certitude: “To every man certain...
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Pennsylvania Woman as Journalist: The Ida Tarbell Nobody Knew

In the summer of 1905, as Ida M. Tarbell’s muckraking History of the Standard Oil Company had completed its long serial run in McClure’s Magazine and been published as a book, Miss Tarbell received an envelope addressed to: Miss Ida M. Tarbell Rockefeller Station Hades Inside was a caustic letter from a reader who was furious with her attack on Standard Oil, but since such...
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A Pennsylvania Yankee in King George’s Court

They were an odd pair. One was a commoner, a native Pennsylva­nian and son of an innkeeper on a busy road between Chester and Philadel­phia; the other, a king who could trace his royal ancestry through several centuries. In spite of their disparate back­grounds and the tumultuous period during which their countries were pitted against each other, the American colon­ist and the monarch of Great...
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Lost and Found

Lost Harrisburg’s Senate Hotel, designed by architect Miller Isaac Kast in an elegant French Beaux Arts style, was opened by hotelier James Russ in 1906. In a successful nomination to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, it was described as “the finest com­mercial … building in the City of Harrisburg.” Preservationists treasured its handsome facade for the...
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The Lady and the Titan

Before the creation of the Pulitzer Prize, long before Woodward and Bernstein, there was Pennsylvania’s own Ida M. Tarbell (1857-1944). Best known as the muckraking journalist who single-handedly took on the mighty John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), she was among the most feared and admired women of her time. Writing during the Progressive Era, an age of hope and reform running roughly from...
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Wyoming Monument

Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley was a focus of British military strategy during the American Revolution because its three thousand residents constituted the largest population center on the Susquehanna River. The British believed that by eliminating this stronghold of American patriotism they could dominate the frontier. Major John Butler organized a force of two hundred and...
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A Trio of Philadelphia Maritime Painters

Oceans and seas have long challenged civilization’s adventurous spirit. Sailors and their ships have struggled against billowing winds and sweeping tides, as well as fires, piracy, collisions, and warfare. All of this has been celebrated in story and song — and in works of art. Artists of the day captured both the beauty and the rigors of those wonderful ships in their coveted canvases. Three of...
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General Meade’s Press Warfare!

Not all the skirmishes and engagements of the American Civil War were fought on the battlefield. Many were waged in popular publications of the day, pitting war correspondents against high-ranking officers in a war of words. One Union commander who waged his own intensely bitter war with the established press and held the Fourth Estate in contempt throughout the entire rebellion was Major...
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Letters

Better And Better Your very fine magazine just keeps getting better and better. I wasn’t sure how you would handle this year’s theme [“William Penn’s Legacy: Religious and Spiritual Diversity”], as I had my doubts how you could tackle such a huge topic, but you did it beautifully. The articles are balanced, timely, and relevant. Joe Martin Erie, Pa.   Our First...
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