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

Illustrating an Anthracite Era: The Photographic Legacy of John Horgan Jr.

by Gwendoline E. Percival and Chester J. Kulesa
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces Associates, 1995 (73 pages, paper, $9.95)

Exemplifying the breadth and depth of more than twenty thousand images made by a single photographer of the anthracite region, the selections comprising Illustrating an Anthracite Era: The Photographic Legacy of John Horgan Jr. do just that – they graph­ically illustrate a period when northeastern Pennsylvania’s hard coal trade enjoyed its zenith. Specifically, John Horgan Jr. (1859-1926) documented the operations of the Delaware and Hudson Coal Company (known throughout the region simply as the “D & H”) and its subsidiary, Hudson Coal, beginning in 1905 and continuing until just before his death. The D & H was one of the earliest and most extensive mining operations in the northern coal field, a canoe-shaped area made up of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys. Horgan’s photographs provide a rare glimpse at the men and the machines that mined, processed, and moved anthracite to market, earning for it the title “King Coal.” He staged and photographed many scenes to demonstrate the company’s safe mining practices. A commercial documen­tary photographer whose career spanned nearly half a century, Horgan produced high-quality photographs for major American industries during their peak pe­riods of growth and prosperity, beginning in the 1880s, a time during which the country’s vast natural resources, cheap immigrant labor, and evolving technology helped place the United States as the world’s major industrial power. Horgan’s work in the United States, and Central and South America, distinguishes him as a significant industrial photographer na­tionally and internationally. Although most of his commissions and projects re­quired industrial scenes, he also made many landscape views. His images were widely circulated throughout the United States and Europe as stereoscopic cards, postcards, illustrations for magazines, in­cluding National Geographic, New South, and Coal Age, publications of the McGraw­-Hill Company, the International Correspondence Schools, and the Pan American Union, and newspapers. Beginning in 1885, Horgan kept meticulous business diaries. Most of the diaries for Horgan’s Scranton years, from 1903 to 1926, survive, and they are invaluable for dating images, documenting locations, and identifying customers. These diaries, however, reveal no sources for the photo­graphic influences that shaped his vision nor indicate his concern, if any, with the interpretation of his photographs in an artistic or social context, as do those of contemporaries Alfred Stieglitz and Lewis Hine. Illustrating an Anthracite Era: The Photographic Legacy of John Horgan Jr. showcases the photographer’s splendid images which now serve as important graphic documents of what was once one of North America’s most important indus­tries. The book features four dozen full-page photographs of operations in the towns and cities whose workers and labor­ers helped crown “King Coal”: Larksville, Parsons, and Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County, and Archbald, Olyphant, Carbondale, Simpson, Minooka, and Scranton in Lackawanna County. Illustrating an Anthracite Era transcends mere illustration, however, as it serves as a richly detailed portrait of the ways in which men (and often young boys) and machines worked during the opening decades of this century.


James Buchanan and the American Empire

by Frederick Moore Binder
Susquehanna University Press, 1994 (318 pages, cloth, $45.00)

Pennsylvania’s James Buchanan (1791-1868) was an enigmatic combination of politician and statesman (see “The Political Ascent of James Buchanan” by Kurt D. Zwikl in the spring 1991 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage). According to the author of James Buchanan and the American Empire, his positions on foreign affairs often intermingled with his quest for high political office. Underlying his apparent shifts in policy was his strong belief in the inevitable territorial expansion of the American republic. Buchanan was a strict constructionist, a supreme nationalist, a Southern sympathizer, and an advocate of the extension of the Missouri Compromise line. He believed in Anglo-Saxon su­premacy, Manifest Destiny, and the Monroe Doctrine. Throughout his long ca­reer, he was an inveterate enemy of British influence and expansion in North and Central America. Buchanan’s speeches and private papers are peppered with the rhetoric of Anglophobia, but he dealt frankly and openly with British leaders Lord Aberdeen and Lord Clarendon. Although his mission to Russia as President Andrew Jackson’s minister was deemed fruitful, his experience in Great Britain twenty years later has been charac­terized as a grave failure – the Mosquito protectorate, filibusters, the burning of Greytown, and the Ostend Manifesto all tumbled down around him before he be­came the successful candidate for the American presidency in 1856. As presi­dent, James Buchanan functioned as his own secretary of state. He never gave up his determination to acquire Cuba. He ad­vocated the acquisition of Lower California and most of northern Mexico, and the domination of transit routes across Central America. He stimulated trade and treaties with Japan and China. James Buchanan and the American Empire analyzes the Pennsylvania.n’s influence on the direction of the nation’s foreign affairs during a period of three decades, from 1832 to 1861. The book concentrates on the significant part Buchanan played in the foreign policy of the United States, his victories and his defeats, and his consuming desire to advance the cause of the American empire.


Henry Clay Frick: The Gospel of Greed

by Samuel A. Schreiner Jr.
St. Martin’s Press, 1995 (308 pages, cloth, $24.95)

The nineteenth century’s Gilded Age – ­an era characterized by excess and extravagance, rampant capitalism, indus­trial growth, and widespread greed­ – produced many of the most powerful, wealthy, and influential individuals and families in American hi.story: John D. Rockefeller and J. Pierpont Morgan, the Vanderbilts and the Astors. It also wit­nessed the rise of Pennsylvanians Andrew Carnegie, Henry Phipps Jr., and Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), the most mysteri­ous and controversial of these Pittsburghers, often overlooked by histori­ans. Henry Clay Frick: The Gospel of Greed, the first full-length biography of the quin­tessential American capitalist, offers a telling look at the most enigmatic of the so-called robber barons who stalked the land during the Gilded Age. A taciturn individual, Frick shunned publicity throughout his life and left a legacy far into the future in the person of his daughter Helen Clay Frick, who died at the age of ninety-six in 1984 (see “‘The Public is Entitled to Know’: Fighting for the Public Memory of Henry Clay Frick” by Brent D. Glass in the winter 1992 edition). Born into modest means, he founded in 1871 Frick and Company, which operated coke ovens. Within two years he had bought out his competitors, securing a monopoly in the industry, after which he was crowned the “Coke King of Connellsville.” A millionaire before he reached thirty, it was not long before he became a partner with steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. As Carnegie acquired sizable interests in Frick’s organization, Frick, in turn, was given large holdings in the Carnegie en­terprise, of which he had been named chairman by 1889. At this time Frick ac­complished his most brilliant business coup, while also committing a devastating faux pas. In 1892, Henry Clay Frick was instrumental in the massive expansion of the Carnegie Steel Company, accom­plished primarily through the acquisition of competing companies and holdings in railroad securities, as well as land on Lake Superior rich with iron ore. In Homestead, eight miles south of Pittsburgh, an exam­ple of Frick’s frequent strong-arm tactics against labor and unions catapulted itself that year into one of the most famous strikes in the history of the United States. According to this book, Frick “would have been right at home in the 1980s and the ’90s thus far. One could argue that Frick invented leveraged buyouts, insider trading, stock manipulation, price fixing, union busting, Jean and mean manage­ment.” While Andrew Carnegie wrapped himself with the mantle of nineteenth-cen­tury romanticism as an “apostle of wealth,” Frick was a frank apostle of greed. He made no apology for the wealth he ac­quired through brilliant and ruthless tactics. He could be brutally, disarmingly honest about himself and his fellow “malefactors of great wealth,” as President Theodore Roosevelt called them. When Carnegie dispatched an emissary to Frick suggesting they meet again years after the demise of their partnership, Frick replied, “Tell Mr. Carnegie I’ll see him in hell, where we both are going.” Henry Clay Frick: The Gospel of Greed illustrates graphically, often bluntly, the ways in which a man from a western Pennsylvania village came to take center stage in the drama of America’s in­dustrial development. The book traces his career and offers tantalizing vignettes of Frick, a manipulator and a monopolizer, whose reputation has been softened by time and benevolences that have made his name synonymous with benign institu­tions, such as Clayton and Frick Park in Pittsburgh and the Frick Collection in New York. In analyzing Frick, this book also of­fers an explanation of an entire era in the country’s history, a period of unchecked growth and development, that the subject and his ethics so well epitomize.