Bookshelf

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

Another Civil War

by Grace Palladino
University of Illinois Press, 1990 (195 pages, cloth, $26.50)

Labor, Capital and the State in Anthracite Regions of Pennsylva­nia, 1840-68 is the subtitle of this case study of economic development that considers the contributions of both labor and capital, demonstrating the importance of industry’s early access to state power as a means of imposing its own view of property rights and managerial prerogative. By making seemingly exhaustive use of manuscript collections, military records, local newspa­pers and accounts in the na­tional labor press, the author offers a close look at a single wartime struggle that was echoed in other industrial centers throughout the North. Local civil disobedience in the North during the Civil War era took many forms, and this dramatic narrative examines draft resistance during that time in Schuylkill, Luzerne and Carbon counties. Another Civil War revises the general assumptions about unrest in the North during the Civil War and focuses on the intricate and influential associations among the country’s politics, military policy and the devel­opment of the working class in the mid-nineteenth century. While in the midst of a na­tional civil war, Pennsylvania’s hard coal miners and opera­tors continued to fight another civil war – a war to determine whose vision of “republican” industry would prevail. The author contends that miners demanded an industrial sys­tem in which organized labor might exercise authority in the workplace; operators, how­ever, willing to deal with their employees only as individuals, defined their right to manage to be a property right of capi­tal. Inevitably, both sides ex­ploited wartime economic conditions to press their claims and used the war to make up for past deprivation and to advance their social and eco­nomic interests.

 

The Transformation of Criminal Justice

by Allen Steinberg
University of North Carolina Press, 1989 (326 pages, cloth, $47.50)

By examining the transfor­mation from private to state prosecution and analyzing the discontinuity of the two sys­tems, The Transformation of Criminal Justice: Philadelphia, 1800-1880, offers a major rein­terpretation of criminal justice in nineteenth century Amer­ica. Specifically, the author brings to life the court­-centered criminal justice sys­tem of Philadelphia in the nineteenth century, chronicles its eclipse, and contrasts it to the system – dominated by the police and public prosecutor – that replaced it. The book first establishes why the courts were the sources of law enforcement, authority and criminal justice before the advent of the police. It illustrates how the city’s system of private prosecution worked, adapted to social change, and came to dominate the culture of criminal justice even during the first decades following the intro­duction of the police. The book also considers the dilemmas that prompted reform, begin­ning with the establishment of a professional police force and culminating in the restruc­turing of primary justice. Mak­ing extensive use of court dockets, state and municipal government publications, public speeches, personal memoirs, newspaper and various contemporary records, the author explains the inti­mate connections between private prosecution, the every­day lives of ordinary people and the conduct of urban politics. The Transformation of Criminal Justice links the his­tory of Philadelphia’s criminal courts closely to related devel­opments in the city’s social and political evolution, making a contribution not only to the study of criminal justice, but also to the larger literature on urban, social and legal history.

 

Christopher Morley’s Philadelphia

by Christopher Morley
Fordham University Press, 1990 (379 pages, cloth, $19.95)

In this volume, one of the most celebrated American authors of the 1920s and 1930s captures the essence of a city of a bygone era. Christopher Morley, born in Haverford in 1890, wrote most of the pieces collected in this volume be-tween 1918 and 1920, while a columnist for the Philadelphia Evening Ledger. His assignment was to “saunter” around Philadelphia and its suburbs, and then report – usually after a leisurely lunch – his observa­tions. The result was a series of lively essays that not only reveal Philadelphia’s colorful past, but shed light on its present, primarily because Morley used his feelings and emotions to describe his sur­roundings in vivid detail. Morley’s best descriptions of Philadelphia are scattered among twelve volumes pub­lished during his lifetime, some of which have been out of print for more than fifty years! Employing anecdotes to record the lifestyles of the people of his time, Morley painstakingly captured the brashness, excitement, and frenetic activity of Philadelphia for a popular – and eager­ – audience that appreciated his style, wit and exuberant cham­pioning of the written word. Christopher Morley’s Philadelphia is edited by Ken Kalfus, who believes this collection “com­prises the most illuminating, lively, and endearing prose yet written in this century” about Philadelphia. Kalfus also feels that Christopher Morley, who died in 1957, “reveals to us the city we so carelessly inhabit, demonstrating that these ‘dirty and depressing’ streets mark a landscape of human endeavor – a city worth read­ing about and a city worth tending.”

 

The Lancaster Locomotive Works­, 1853-1870

by Richard D. Adams
Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, 1990 (36 pages, paper, $4.00)

The history of one of Amer­ica’s more obscure manufactur­ers of steam locomotives – the Lancaster Locomotive Works­ – is traced in this brief but in­formative account. The firm – which employed one of the country’s most gifted loco­motive builders and mechan­ics, John Brandt, a Lancaster native – manufactured its first locomotive, the Tam O’Shanter, in 1854. Despite its promising beginnings, by 1857 the firm had suffered severe economic reverses and was forced to close. The works were leased to James A. Norris, brother of the famous Philadelphia loco­motive builder Richard Norris, in 1863. Under Norris’ man­agement, the company was successful until closed again in 1868 due to disinterest by the succeeding generation of the Norris family. Reopened for a third – and final – time in 1869 by L.B. Tyng, the works failed to prosper and ceased building locomotives the following year. Although each of the three attempts did not succeed, the Lancaster Locomotive Works supplied locomotives to thirty railroads during its thirteen year history, including the Allegheny Valley, the Cata­wissa, Williamsport and Elmira, the Philadelphia and Columbia, the Philadelphia and Reading, the Sunbury and Erie, the Union Pacific, the Reading and Columbia, and the Lehigh and Mahanoy. The Lancaster Locomotive Works features a listing of the various locomotives produced between 1854 and 1870, including the names of each – such as Maj. General Sheridan for the Union Pacific in 1865, the James Buchanan for the Philadelphia and Columbia in 1856, and the Judge Watts for the Cumberland Valley in 1857 – when available. It also features several mid­-nineteenth century photo­graphs of various locomotives, with brief histories. The book concludes with a general bibli­ography and extensive endnotes.

 

At Liberty: The Story of a Community and a Generation

by Joseph E. Illick
The University of Tennessee Press, 1989 (349 pages, cloth, $38.95)

At Liberty centers around a man’s curiosity about the men and women he had known as classmates almost a quarter of a century earlier – people with whom he studied, competed against, and dated. The au­thor, a respected historian, set out on a quest to find his old classmates from his 1952 grad­uating class, and compiled extensive data on their back­grounds and life histories. By conducting intensive personal interviews with them, the author determined how they got where they are today and what they perceive to be the issues of their generation. Placing his interviewees against this social backdrop, the author recalls his class­mates as he knew them, or thought he knew them: the student body president, the football star, the top student, the minority outsider, the class clown – together with many less conspicuous individuals (many of whom are depicted by “then and now” photo­graphs). From conversations with these people emerges a picture of a particular genera­tion struggling to define itself against inherited ideas and practices, moving from the traditional to the modern world, “striving to be at liberty by bringing the past into con­sonance with the present.” With great honesty, the author scrutinizes his own life in the process, as he becomes both participant and observer, the subject of his own investiga­tion. Included in this volume is the cultural, social, and economic history of the city of Bethlehem, from its origins as a mid-eighteenth century Moravian experiment in reli­gious communal living, through its development as a center of the steel industry in the nineteenth century and to its present condition of indus­trial decline. The author chose the title At Liberty to suggest that his real concern was not group equality but personal freedom: to be free to act in a manner consistent with both peace of mind and social real­ity. The book is a richly tex­tured and often moving account, as people from all walks of life, having achieved varying degrees of personal and economic success or fail­ure, contentment or misery, try to come to grips with who they are, filtered through the consciousness of who they were.

 

A Perfect Freedom: Religious Liberty in Pennsylvania

by J. William Frost
Cambridge University Press, 1990 (221 pages, cloth, $42.50)

Pennsylvania developed a unique tradition of religious freedom long before the Great Awakening and the rise of pietism, which historians often cite as the major influences on the separation of church and state, but which are often examined in the histories of New England and Virginia, and not through the Common­wealth’s. After the American Revolution, Pennsylvania served as the principal model for the provision of religious liberty in the other states and the federal government. Using a wide variety of sources­ – legal documents, church re­cords, sermons, political tracts, diaries, newspapers and government records – A Perfect Freedom traces Pennsylvania’s distinctive religious and politi­cal development, how it has influenced the nation and how the nation impacted upon it. The book covers the on-going discussions about pacifism, rights for Jews and blacks, prayer in public schools, Sun­day legislation, as well as other religious topics from founder William Penn’s time through World War II. It dem­onstrates how Pennsylvania developed a tradition of ac­tively promoting religion that, following World War II, resulted in U.S. Supreme Court rulings that cited the Com­monwealth for violations of First Amendment rights. The book is of interest to readers interested in political, social, religious or legal history, and policy issues involving the separation of church and state.

 

The Colossus of 1812: An American Engineering Superlative

by Lee H. Nelson
American Society of Civil Engineers, 1990 (62 pages, paper, $25.00)

The last decade of the eight­eenth century and the opening decade of the nineteenth cen­tury constituted one of those incredibly innovative periods in the history of American bridge building, and this book details one of the greatest structures ever produced by an American civil engineer, but one that has received little attention by historians. The Colossus of Philadelphia, world famous in its time, was a 340-foot clear span wooden bridge designed, built and named by Lewis Wernwag (1769-1843) in 1812. The longest clear span wooden bridge in the world when it was built, the Colossus was admired by engineers throughout the world, as well as by artists for its picturesque, almost roman­tic setting. It was America’s premier engineering superla­tive of the early nineteenth century, a veritable landmark of architecture, a marvel and a colossus in every sense of the word. In short, it was a world class structure. By Victorian period standards, it was a handsome structure in a pic­turesque setting adjacent to the historic Fairmount Water­works. Because of Wernwag’s innovative design, the Colos­sus captured the imagination of both the romantic and tech­nological minds of the day, and influenced American bridge building for many, many years.