Dan Rice’s Monument: Patriotism or Circus Promotion?

On storied battlefields and at thousands of heroes’ graves and historic monuments, Pennsylvanians gather to commemorate the bravery and valor of the indi­viduals who made – and kept – this a free country. In the northwestern corner of the state, in a little town called Girard, Erie countians gather around a tall stone monument which claims special distinc­tion. The monument was...
read more

The Depression Strikes Indiana County

The Great Depression of 1929-32 without question was one of the watershed periods in American history. Joseph Alex Morris once wrote that “people later would speak of ‘before 1929’ or ‘after 1929’ as Noah’s children may have spoken of the days before and after ‘The Flood.'” The personal deprivation and social upheaval of those times sent shock...
read more

The Political Ascent of James Buchanan

As the nation enters the third century of the American presi­dency, only one Pennsylvanian has had the distinction of serving as its chief executive. In 1857, at the age of sixty-five, James Bu­chanan of Lancaster County became the fifteenth president of the United States. He was well prepared for the office, having spent more than thirty years in public service in various elected and appointed...
read more

Paradise Lost: A Poet in the Political Labyrinth

During the nineteenth century, it was not unusual for promi­nent literary figures – authors, playwrights and, of course, poet laureates­ – to be awarded diplomatic posts as honors. Perhaps these appointments lent prestige to administrations or helped lessen suggestions of rank patronage. Writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was one of the best examples; he held several custom house...
read more

Thaddeus Stevens, Equality of Man Before the Creator

In his thirty-five year legislative career, Thaddeus Stevens garnered several reputations. Ex-Confederates called him “the scourge of the South,” an epithet which survived into the twentieth century. In D. W. Griffith’s classic film Birth of a Nation, character Austin Stoneman is unabashedly modeled on Thaddeus Stevens, complete with clubfoot and wig. For his en­deavors to...
read more

Crystal Bird Fauset Raises Her Voice for Human Rights

Power surrounds the woman. It dwells within her, emanates from her, and yet, is very subtly hidden. Anyone who comes near Mrs. Fauset feels her greatness – in the sweep of her very alert glance, in the charm of her ready smile, in the warm sincerity of her hand clasp, and in her voice – like crisp staccato music, mellowed.” Attracted by her magnetism, a writer for the Chicago...
read more

Currents

Amish Arts A comprehensive-and colorful-sur­vey of the distinctive decorative arts cre­ated by and for the Amish of Lancaster County is on view at the Heritage Center Museum of Lancaster County. About two hundred objects made during a period of two hundred years, from 1790 to 1990, are showcased in “Amish Arts of Lancaster County,” on view through Saturday, Janu­ary 2, 1999. Included...
read more

Slaying the Republican Giant: John B. Kelly and the Rise of Philadelphia’s Democratic Party

Philadelphia’s mayoral election of 1935 promised to be a contest of epic proportions. For nearly three-quarters of a century, since the end of the Civil War, Republicans had virtually controlled nearly every phase of city government. Their success had rested on their historical legacy as “the Party of Lincoln, the Great Emancipator.” By the early 1930s, however, Philadelphians...
read more

Born a Leader for Pennsylvania

The essence of life is unconditional, non-judgmental love,” explains George Michael Leader when asked to sum-up his philosophy. He writes poetry, models and advocates wellness, leads community humanitarian projects, reads extensively, and oversees a family corpora­tion he founded that includes nursing facili­ties and retirement communities. In his ninth decade he is, as he has always been,...
read more

Benjamin Franklin and His Religious Beliefs

Ezra Stiles (1727-1795), the Calvinist president of Yale College, was curious about Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and his faith. In 1790, he asked the nation’s senior statesman if he would commit his religious beliefs to paper. Franklin agreed. He was nearing the end of his life – he died six weeks later – and possibly believed this was as good a time as any to summarize the...
read more