Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

Soldiers to Governors: Pennsylvania’s Civil War Veterans Who Became State Leaders

by Richard C. Saylor
published by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2010; 196 pages, cloth, $59.95

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) safeguards a literal treasure trove of artifacts and documents associated with the American Civil War and six veterans of the war who later served as governor. This priceless cache, concentrated in The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Archives, administered by PHMC, includes portraits, military uniforms, maps, sketches, flags, models, muster rolls, paintings, lithographs, engravings, cartes de visite, letters, official reports, diaries, photographs, campaign posters, buttons, ribbons, placards, and inaugural medals and medallions. Most of this material has never before been published or exhibited.

To showcase this extraordinary collection, Richard C. Saylor, an archivist for the Pennsylvania State Archives, has authored a stunning book, Soldiers to Governors: Pennsylvania’s Civil War Veterans Who Became State Leaders that presents — in full color — official records (such as commission certificates) and ephemera (including inaugural invitations and mourning ribbons) directly relating to the Keystone State’s chief executives who fought in the Civil War: John White Geary (1819–1873), in office from 1867 to 1873; John Frederick Hartranft (1830–1889), in office from 1873 to 1879; Henry Martyn Hoyt (1830–1892), in office from 1879 to 1883; James Addams Beaver (1837–1914); in office from 1887 to 1891; and Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker (1843–1916), in office from 1903 to 1907. The result is a publication of informative and insightful text, glorious photographs, and outstanding production values.

The author follows each of the men through his military service, discussing the engagements and battles in which he participated, and offers a frank assessment of his career. He notes that all six “emerged from the war as committed Republicans, proud to have vanquished both the rebels of the South and the Democrats of the North. In large part, in fact,” he continues, “the governors of this book built their careers on keeping the Civil War and its issues alive, chastising the Democrats of Pennsylvania as the party of slavery, appeasement, disunion, and even disloyalty. These men became governors largely because they were part of a powerful engine, driven by memories of Civil War service and loyalty to the Republican Party.” Soldiers to Governors also analyzes how these men shrewdly exploited their wartime service to win the governor’s office during a period of nearly forty years, beginning with Geary’s election in 1867 to Pennypacker’s last day in office in 1903.

Saylor emphasizes that these individuals, proud of their identities as Union soldiers and diehard Republicans, championed the rights of African Americans in order to better reconcile with their former enemies in the South. “The Republicans fought for nearly a decade after the war,” Saylor writes, “to enact protections for former slaves in the South, but then acquiesced in the determination of white Southerners and white Northern Democrats to make the United States a white man’s country once again.”

In addition to brimming with splendid photographs, Soldiers to Governors includes extensive endnotes, an index, and bibliography.

“This impressive book, carrying fascinating stories and images on nearly every page,” writes distinguished historian and noted author Edward L. Ayres, who authored the preface to the book, “cuts across conventional boundaries to make sense of a broad expanse of American history.” He emphasizes that the book “is a reminder of the difference the Civil War made. It reminds us that the war affected the North in powerful ways, even though all the notable battles but one [the Battle of Gettysburg] took place below the Mason-Dixon Line.”


Pennsylvania’s Revolution

edited by William Pencak
published by the Pennsylvania State University press, 2010; 396 pages, cloth, $85.00

Pennsylvania’s Revolution embodies a new era of scholarship about the Commonwealth’s revolutionary past. It breaks from a narrowly focused study of Philadelphia and the 1776 Declaration of Independence to evaluate the Keystone State’s internal conflicts during American Revolution.Pronounced struggles between Pennsylvania’s own citizen factions during the late eighteenth century are cited by historians to demonstrate how this trend fomented important social and political change throughout the early colonies. By examining these experiences from multiple angles, the book reflects the overarching themes of the American Revolution through a detailed study of Pennsylvania — the most radical of the thirteen original colonies.

Editor William Pencak brings together fifteen insightful essays that expand the interpretation of the complex changes that occurred in Pennsylvania during this turbulent and tumultuous era and offer a topical approach to the discussion of the Commonwealth’s internal turmoil. Through the lens of political and military history, coupled with social, religious, and ethno-history, Native American studies, frontier analyses, and even film studies and theater history, Pennsylvania’s Revolution gives readers a glimpse of the diverse nature of contemporary and future historiography of Pennsylvania’s revolutionary period.

Chapters include “The Americanization of the Pennsylvania Almanac” by Patrick Spero; “Religion, the AmericanRevolution, and the Pennsylvania Germans by John B.Frantz; “Redcoat Theater: Negotiating Identity in Occupied Philadelphia, 1777–1778,” by Meredith H. Lair; “The Decline of the Cheerful Taxpayer: Taxation in Pennsylvania, c. 1776–1815,” by Anthony M. Joseph; “Music, Mayhem, and Melodrama: The Portrayal of the American Revolution in Pennsylvania on Film” by Karen Guenther; and “Out of Many, One: Pennsylvania’s Anglican Loyalist Clergy” by Pencak. Each essay is accompanied by annotated footnotes.

Pennsylvania’s Revolution concludes with a translation, by Jan Logemann, of selected publications of eighteenth-century Philadelphia newspaper publisher Heinrich Muller (who later changed his name to Henry Miller).


Remembering Lancaster County: Stories from Pennsylvania Dutch Country

by Jack Brubaker
published by the History Press, 2010; 125 pages, paper, $19.99

Mennonites first settled in what is today Lancaster County — sixty miles west of Philadelphia and just east of the Susquehanna River — in 1710. They were joined by the Amish nearly three decades later. Lancaster, established in 1729 as the Commonwealth’s fourth county, is often described as the first American home of the “Plain” religious sects, but it also welcomed many other ethnic and religious groups in the early eighteenth century. Germans, English, Scots-Irish, French Huguenots, Quakers, Lutherans, Methodists, and Episcopalians, among others, writes Jack Brubaker, “made the county one of the great melting pots of America.”

Blessed with some of the richest soil in the world, the county quickly became one of the country’s most productive farming regions. During the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, it was “a military breadbasket.” First settled in 1730, the city of Lancaster was the largest inland community in late colonial era America and, in the early nineteenth century, served as Pennsylvania’s capital. It has produced its share of notable Americans, including Pennsylvania’s only U.S. president, James Buchanan (1791–1868).

Jack Brubaker’s Remembering Lancaster County: Stories from Pennsylvania Dutch Country is not a county history, but “a patchwork of stories” representative of the rich heritage and culture of this exceptional place. The stories originally appeared in a column, “The Scribbler,” published in the Lancaster New Era. One of the older columns in the country’s newspapers, “The Scribbler” debuted in 1919 and has been published, with three interruptions, for the better part of a century. Since Gerald S. Lestz (1914–2009), a well known Lancaster philanthropist and publisher, began writing the column twice weekly in 1957, “The Scribbler” has focused largely on the county’s history. Brubaker succeeded Lestz in 2009.

Updated and adapted for Remembering Lancaster County, the text opens with stories of the Susquehanna River and the city of Lancaster — the county’s most significant features — and ends with commentary on historic preservation issues. Chapters also discuss the area’s transportation and commerce, wartime years, influential citizens and memorable characters, and the religious and ethnic groups associated with the Amish and Pennsylvania Germans.


A Town In-Between: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Early Mid-Atlantic Interior

by Judith Ridner
published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010; 287 pages, paper, $49.95

In A Town In-Between: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Early Mid-Atlantic Interior, Judith Ridner reveals the influential, turbulent past of a quiet American community. Today, the Cumberland County seat, nestled in the picturesque Susquehanna Valley, is far from the nation’s political and financial centers. In the eighteenth century, however, Carlisle and its residents stood not only at a geographical crossroads but also at the fulcrum of early American controversies. Located between East Coast settlement and the western frontier, Carlisle became a mid-Atlantic hub, serving as a migration gateway to the southern and eastern interiors, a commercial way station in the colonial period fur trade, a military staging and supply headquarters during the Seven Years’ War, American Revolution, and Whiskey Rebellion, and home to one of the first institutions of higher learning in the United States, Dickinson College, chartered in 1783.

A Town In-Between reconsiders the role early American towns played in the development of the country’s interior. Focusing on the lives of the ambitious Scots-Irish colonists who built Carlisle, the author reasserts that the early American West was worn by traders, merchants, artisans, and laborers — many of them Irish immigrants — and not just farmers. Founded by proprietor Thomas Penn (1702–1775), the community witnessed repeated uprisings, jailbreaks, and one of the most publicized Anti-Federalist riots during the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. These conflicts and debacles had dramatic consequences for many Scots-Irish Presbyterians who themselves, a people in-between, mediating among the competing ethno-religious, cultural, and political beliefs that separated them from Quaker and Anglican colonists of the Delaware Valley and their Native American trading partners of the Ohio country.

In this thoroughly researched and highly readable account, Ridner argues that interior towns were not so much spearheads of a progressive and westward-moving Euro-American civilization, but volatile places situated in the midst of a culturally diverse, economically dynamic, and politically evolving early America.