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


By Peter Krass
John Wiley and Company, Inc., 2002 (612 pages, cloth $35.00)

The name Carnegie, like several others of its day – Westing­house, Morgan, Ford, Rockefeller, Winchester, Chrysler, Du Pont, Edison, Hershey – stands apart, apparently requiring lit­tle, if any, introduction. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) stands next to J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller as one of the great business leaders in United States history. Immigrating from Scotland as a child, Carnegie rose from the slums of Pittsburgh to become a steel industry titan remembered for his many philanthropic endowments, ranging from his free libraries to his work toward world peace. Carnegie was a complex individual, embodying the contradictions that divided America in the Gild­ed Age. Was he truly the tyrant that so many thought him to be, a ruthless robber baron who worked his employees to death for his own personal gain? Or was there more to this man who gave away his immense fortune, who has at times been invested with the virtues of a saint? Carnegie delves into the mind of a munificent yet merciless man who wore many masks throughout his life. The author captures the drama behind the building of Carnegie’s empire, revealing how he manipulated the rules of fair play and how he was a pioneer in philanthropy. He separates fact from the Carnegie legend by relying heavily on diaries, letters, and writings by both primary and peripheral characters in the industrialist’s life, as well as on the copious Carnegie-related archives. Carnegie was devoted to his family and friends, and he believed himself to be the hero of the working class . His actions bespoke acute internal conflict, however. He publicly supported unions, but allowed his laborers to struggle to meet their daily needs while he wallowed in riches. He was much kinder to his personal help than to his business partners. “Carnegie’s sanctimoniousness is repulsive at times,” the author writes, “but his extreme loyalty to family and friends is highly admirable.” From Andrew Carnegie’s meager beginnings to his fabulous fortune, the author takes a probing, insightful look into what inspired and moved this contradictory business giant who, at the height of his wealth, was worth more than one hundred billion dollars in today’s money.


Independence Hall in American Memory

By Charlene Mires
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002 (352 pages, cloth, $34.95)

Independence Hall is a place Americans think they know well. Within its walls the Continental Congress declared inde­pendence in 1776, and in 1787 the Founding Fathers drafted the U.S. Constitution. Painstakingly restored to evoke these momentous events, the building appears to have passed through time unscathed, from the heady days of the American Revolution to the present. However, Independence Hall is more than a symbol of the young nation. It has a long and varied history of changing uses in an urban environment, much of which has been forgotten. Independence Hall in American Memory rediscovers and chronicles the lost history of the building in the process of exploring the shifting perceptions of this most important site in America’s popular imagination. The author contends the significance of Independence Hall cannot be fully appreciated without assessing the full range of political, cultural, and social history that has swirled about it for nearly three centuries. During its existence, it has functioned as a civic and cultural center, a political arena and courtroom, and a magnet for public celebrations and demonstrations. Portraitist Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) merged the arts, sciences, and public interest when he transformed a portion of the hall into a center for natural sciences in 1802. In the 1850s, hearings for accused fugitive slaves who faced the loss of freedom were held, ironically, in this famous birthplace of American independence. Over the years, Philadelphians have used the old state house and its public square in a multitude of ways that have transformed it into an arena of conflict: labor grievances have echoed regularly in Independence Square since the 1830s, while civil rights protesters exercised their right to free speech in the turbulent 1960s. As much as the Founding Fathers, these people and events illustrate the building’s significance as a cultural symbol. The book is a fascinating portrait that illuminates the connection between collective memory and history, investigates how traditions and heritage emerge and change, and examines how a heterogeneous society constructs and preserves its history. The book reveals Independence Hall, the most revered sym­bol of the American republic, as a place of contradiction, where the nation’s ideals have been both defined and contested, expanded, and limited. Independence Hall in American Memory features more than fifty illustrations, extensive notes, and index. The author’s research was supported, in part, by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.


An American Musical Dynasty: A Biography of the Wolle Family of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

By Paul S. Larson
Lehigh University Press, 2002 (425 pages, cloth, $55.00)

For the span of one hundred years, Peter, Theodore and J. Fred. Wolle formed what the author describes as “an American musical dynasty.” While each was rooted in the Moravian musical tradition, particularly through the innovations of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, their influence expanded beyond the Moravian Church and became a major force in the performance of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach in America. The early characterization of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, as the American version of Bayreuth, Germany, remains appropriate to this day. The musical tradition that shaped the Wolle family was cen­tered in Nazareth (1740) and Bethlehem (1742), the first Mora­vian settlements in Pennsylvania. In addition to schools for young children, the Moravians established academies for young men in Nazareth and for young women in Bethlehem. These academies became well known for their excellence. Music was central to both schools, and each had faculties of fine musicians trained in Europe, who transplanted European musical excellence to America. As a result, during the late eigh­teenth and early nineteenth centuries, each academy provided a music education unsurpassed in America. Tn addition, each institution was closely attached to the vital music-making that pervaded Moravian communities. This deep reverence for music in Nazareth and Bethlehem nourished and trained many talented musicians. For generations, members of the same fami­lies sang, played musical instruments, and composed sacred music together. The Welles were such a family, and they emerged as the most outstanding of these Moravian musical families as their influence eventually extended into the main­stream of American concert life. Peter Wolle (1792-1871), the first member of the dynasty, was never a professional musician. While he served the Moravian Church as an organist and com­poser when called upon to do so, he remained a lifelong cleric. Peter Wolle was elected the first American Moravian bishop. His son, Theodore Francis Wolle (1832-1885), became a professional musician after serving his apprenticeship as a cabinet­maker. During his adult life, he was a professor of music, an organist, a choirmaster, and a composer. Theodore Wolle was also the first member of the family to work outside the Mora­vian Church. J. Fred. Wolle (1863-1933), Theodore’s cousin, gained national prominence as an organist, the first conductor of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, and a leader of the American Bach Revival. J. Fred. was also a choirmaster, a composer, and an academic. Beyond their musical contributions, the Welles mirrored a profound shift in American music and culture: the secularization of sacred music as patronage moved from churches to universities and capitalistic industries. The course of this change is a major theme of An American Musical Dynasty: A Biography of the Wolle Family of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Bethle­hem, which began as a closed Moravian community steeped in music, became by the mid-nineteenth century the home of Lehigh University, and by the late nineteenth century, the head­quarters of the Bethlehem Steel Company. Both the university and the company continued the musical tradition and support­ed the Bach Choir of Bethlehem. An American Musical Dynasty also discusses Moravian cultural patterns that produced so many musically productive men, women, and children, who still shape life in the City of Bethlehem.


A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten

By Julie Winch
Oxford University Press, 2002 (501 pages, cloth, $35.00)

A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten, an eloquent, long-awaited biography of one of the most remarkable :individ­uals in nineteenth-century America, is, praises Publishers Weekly, “the first serious work on his life and legacy [that] not only restores him to his rightful place in American history, but also presents readers with an invigorating and challenging new portrait of pre-and post-Revolutionary race relations and identities.” Born in 1766 into a free black family, James Forten served in the Revolutionary War when he was a teenager and was captured by the British. Rejecting an offer to change sides in exchange for British citizenship, he insisted he was a loyal American. When he was encouraged to apply for a pension for his service, he replied that he did not want money. What he wanted, and what he believed he deserved, was the title he would never be given: American citizen. An innovative crafts­man, a successful manager of black and white employees, a shrewd businessman, and an outspoken abolitionist, Forten emerged in the early nineteenth century as the leading sail­maker in Philadelphia and as a leader in its black community. He served as vice president of the American Anti-Slavery Soci­ety and became close friends with William Lloyd Garrison, to whom he lent money to establish the Liberator, a newspaper targeted against the evils of slavery. Forten was also the patri­arch of a remarkable dynasty. His children and son-in-law were all active abolitionists and a granddaughter, Charlotte Forten Grimke, published a famous diary of her experiences teaching ex-slaves in South Carolina’s Seas Islands during the Civil War. When Forten died in 1842, five thousand mourners, black and white, turned out to honor an individual who had earned the respect of society across the racial divide. James Forten stands rightfully beside Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr., in the pantheon of African Americans who fundamentally shaped American history.