Letters presents readers' comments and reactions to specific articles in Pennsylvania Heritage, the initiatives of PHMC, and other developments in the historical, cultural and museum communities of Pennsylvania.

Better And Better

Your very fine magazine just keeps getting better and better. I wasn’t sure how you would handle this year’s theme [“William Penn’s Legacy: Religious and Spiritual Diversity”], as I had my doubts how you could tackle such a huge topic, but you did it beautifully. The articles are balanced, timely, and relevant.

Joe Martin
Erie, Pa.


Our First Friends

Reading about the Quaker emphasis on education in Rae Tyson’s fine article [“Our First Friends, the Early Quakers,” Spring 2011] reminded me that Simon Snyder, at age sixty, remembered and wrote about his only teacher, “John Jones, a worthy member of the Society of Friends,” who kept a night school in York. From Jones he learned “reading, writing, arithmetic, and some mathematics” while he was a seventeen-year-old apprentice to a tanner. Jones so kindled Snyder’s love of learning that “often at the midnight hour, after a hard day’s work [he] was found in the pursuit of knowledge and his Sundays were also devoted to his studies.” Jones’s worthy influence so changed the direction of Snyder’s life that he eventually became Pennsylvania’s third governor.

Emily Johnson
Selinsgrove, Pa.

Simon Snyder (1759–1819) was born in Lancaster, where he was baptized in the Moravian Church. He was Pennsylvania’s first chief executive of German descent under the Commonwealth’s Constitution of 1790, serving as governor for three terms, from 1808 through 1817. In 2007, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission installed a state historical marker honoring Snyder at his former residence in Selinsgrove, Snyder County, which had been entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Snyder County was named in his honor in 1855 when it was separated from Union County.


Beating The Winter Blahs

Your latest edition [Winter 2011] was a perfect antidote for beating the winter blahs. I particularly enjoyed William C. Kashatus’s “The Rise and Fall of ‘Young Napoleon,'” as I’ve long been fascinated by our military history, especially the Civil War. General [George Brinton] McClellan was a most unusual and perplexing personality. I often wonder about his motives and reasons for his actions – or lack thereof – in battle. Was he overly cautious or cowardly? His letters are peppered with braggadocio, as well as harsh criticisms of others, but I suspect we’ll never really know what made him tick. Maybe he was just purely egotistical?

Bill Daniels
Princeton, N.J.

George Brinton McClellan (1826-1885) was as irrepressible as he was enigmatic. A defiant military leader, he disappointed President Abraham Lincoln but earned the admiration of newspaper correspondents who crowned him “Young Napoleon,” while his loyal troops affectionately referred to him as “Little Mac.”