1861-1945: Era of Industrial Ascendancy
After 1861 Pennsylvania's influence on national politics diminished gradually, but its industrial complex grew rapidly.
The Civil War
During the Civil War, Pennsylvania played an important role in preserving the Union. Southern forces invaded Pennsylvania three times by way of the Cumberland Valley, a natural highway from Virginia to the North. Pennsylvania shielded the other northeastern states.
Pennsylvania's industrial enterprise and natural resources were essential factors in the economic strength of the northern cause. Its railroad system, iron and steel industry, and agricultural wealth were vital to the war effort. The shipbuilders of Pennsylvania, led by the Cramp Shipyards at Port Richmond, Pettys Island, and Palmer Street, enlarged the Navy and merchant marine and pioneered in building ironclad warships. The Phoenixville Iron Company produced over a thousand Griffen rifled cannon, using a superior rolling process to prevent the barrels from bursting. Heavy artillery was produced in Pittsburgh. Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren made innovations in ordnance which greatly improved naval fire power. Cavalry units raised in Pennsylvania were widely praised, and by 1863 could stand up in battle to Confederate cavalry. Thomas Scott, as Assistant Secretary of War, directed telegraph and railway services. Engineer Herman Haupt directed railroad movement of troops and was personally commended by President Lincoln, and Philadelphian Montgomery C. Meigs, as the Union's Quartermaster General, was the logistical genius who brought victory. Jay Cooke helped finance the Union cause, and Thaddeus Stevens was an important congressional leader whose efforts made the large appropriations for military operations possible with minimal disruption to the nation's economy. Simon Cameron was the Secretary of War until replaced in January 1862 amid suspicions of his dishonesty. The nationally pre-eminent medical institutions of Philadelphia gave the Union war effort a distinct advantage, and such outstanding doctors as Silas Weir Mitchell advanced knowledge of gunshot wounds and the nervous system.
No man made a greater impression as a state governor during the Civil War than Pennsylvania's Andrew Gregg Curtin. At his first inaugural he denied the right of the South to secede, and throughout the war he was active in support of a national draft. In September 1862, he was the host in Altoona to a conference of northern governors who pledged support to Lincoln's policies.
Nearly 350,000 Pennsylvanians served in the Union forces, including an estimated 8,600 African American volunteers. At the beginning of the war, Lincoln's call for 14 regiments of volunteers was answered by 25 regiments. In May 1861, the Assembly, at Governor Curtin's suggestion, created the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps of 15 regiments enlisted for three years' service. They were mustered into the Army of the Potomac after the first Battle of Bull Run, and thousands of other Pennsylvanians followed them. Camp Curtin at Harrisburg was one of the major troop concentration centers of the war. Admiral David D. Porter opened the Mississippi and Army leaders from Pennsylvania were numerous and able, including such outstanding officers as George B. McClellan, George G. Meade, John F. Reynolds, Winfield Scott Hancock, John White Geary, and John F. Hartranft.
After the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, General J.E.B. Stewart's Confederate cavalry rode around General George McClellan's Union army and reached Chambersburg on October 10. There they seized supplies and horses, burned a large storehouse, and then withdrew as rapidly as they had come.
In June 1863, General Robert E. Lee turned his 75,000 men northward on a major invasion of Pennsylvania. The state called up reserves and volunteers for emergency duty. At Pittsburgh the citizens fortified the surrounding hills, and at Harrisburg fortifications were thrown up on both sides of the Susquehanna. Confederate forces captured Carlisle and advanced to within three miles of Harrisburg; the bridge at Wrightsville had to be burned to prevent their crossing. These outlying forces were recalled when the Union army under General George G. Meade met Lee's army at Gettysburg. In a bitterly fought engagement on the first three days of July, the Union army threw back the Confederate forces, a major turning point in the struggle to save the Union. Not only was the battle fought on Pennsylvania soil, but nearly a third of General Meade's army was maed up of Pennsylvanians. Governor Curtin led the movement to establish the battlefield as a national memorial cemetery.
Eleven regiments and one independent company of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) were raised and trained as Pennsylvania volunteers at Camp William Penn, near Philadelphia, between July 1863 and February 1865. Eight of the regiments saw heavy combat, largely in Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida. They served with distinction in the Overland Campaign and the lengthy operations against Richmond and Petersburg. The 43rd Regiment was engaged in Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, July 30, 1864. Although the statistics are incomplete and perhaps not entirely accurate, there is a record of 400 combat deaths from the enlisted ranks of these eight units. About 500 other Pennsylvania African Americans had joined Massachusetts regiments before the Camp William Penn recruiting system was begun. Twenty-six from this group, who were in the famous 54th Massachusetts Regiment, were killed in the attempt to capture Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863. Sergeant Stephen Swails of the 54th, from Columbia, Lancaster County, was decorated for valor and became the first African American to receive a commission in the Massachusetts regiments. Dr. Martin R. Delany, raised in Chambersburg, who had fostered African nationalism and Pan Africanism while living in Pittsburgh, actively recruited USCT enlistments and was commissioned major in the 104th USCT in South Carolina in 1865.
In 1864, in retaliation for Union raids in Virginia, a Confederate force under General John McCausland advanced to Chambersburg and threatened to burn the town unless a large ransom was paid. The citizens refused, and Chambersburg was burned on July 20, leaving two-thirds of its people homeless and causing damage of almost two million dollars.
Republican Dominance and Democratic Abeyance
From the Civil War until 1934 the Republican Party had an advantage over the Democrats. The Democratic reformer Robert E. Pattison served two terms as governor (1883-1886; 1891-1894) because disunity within the Republicans made it possible, but from 1894 until the Great Depression, Republican electoral majorities were seldom challenged. Republican voter superiority tended to empower a single state political manager or boss until 1922, although these individuals always had critics, rivals, and enemies. Three personalities held the position successively: Senator Simon Cameron until 1877; Matthew S. Quay (a senator from 1887 on) from about 1879 until his death in May 1904; and Senator Boies Penrose from 1905 until his death in December 1921. Usually they controlled the state Republican Party in addition to the power they held in the U.S. Senate. They placed their weight behind big business and Pennsylvania's industrial growth, and had little interest in social improvements or government public services. "Prosperity for all" and "the full dinner pail" were the public perceptions that were used to defend bossism. Republican city bosses, especially in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, often rebelled and harassed them. The state bosses manipulated the nominations of most of the Republican gubernatorial candidates, although several governors whom they misjudged or had only grudgingly endorsed crossed them by advancing enlightened, public-spirited reforms. Some of these improvements were so obviously necessary that the state bosses simply did not care to intervene. Progressive legislation was also brought about by inspired legislators willing to face the consequences of reprisals from the bosses and special interests.
The period from 1895 to 1919 saw spirited reform movements in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, although significant victories were not frequent before 1910. Corruption in city utilities and public service contracts stimulated reform sentiment in both cities, although Pittsburgh's reform arose from the exposure of the wretched living conditions that unbridled industrial growth had spawned. Philadelphia's reform, by contrast, arose to confront exploitation of minorities, dishonest elections, venality in office, and a general disregard for the law.
Although the Democratic Party bore the stigma of past association with pro-slavery advocates and Southern states' rights, those memories gradually receded. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania's Democratic Party had other problems. There was a serious urban-rural internal division, and the Pennsylvania Democrats did not conform to national Democratic party themes of tariff reduction and a soft money system intended to benefit western farmers and debtors. Pennsylvania exhibited little enthusiasm for the Populist movement, which arose in the West and South, and Pennsylvania Democrats regretted their party's amalgamation with the Populists' People's Party in the 1896 presidential election. Furthermore, they did not entirely support the rising demands of industrial labor.
From 1861 to 1883, Republicans held the governorship. Then, a factional split within the Republicans led to the election of the reformed Democrat Robert E. Pattison, and his re-election in 1891. After that, Republicans held the governor's office until 1935. The death of Senator Penrose on the last day of 1921 ended the era of Republican state bosses who sat in Congress.
The Constitution of 1874
The fourth constitution of the Commonwealth was partly a result of a nationwide reform movement in the 1870s and partly a result of specific corrections to the previous (1838) constitution. A constitutional amendment in 1850 had made all judgeships of courts of record elective by the voting population, a concession to longstanding criticism of gubernatorial appointments. In 1872 another amendment made the office of State Treasurer also popularly elective, an early expression of the reform sentiment that brought on the state constitutional convention of 1873. The resulting new constitution provided for the popular election of the Auditor General and a new official, the Secretary of Internal Affairs, whose department combined old duties of the Surveyor General with potential power to regulate many areas of the economy. The office of Lieutenant Governor was also created. The head of the public school system received the title of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the General Assembly was required to provide efficient public education at a cost of no less than one million dollars per year. The Governor's term was lengthened from three to four years, but he could no longer succeed himself. He was empowered to veto individual items within appropriations bills. The General Assembly's powers were limited in several ways. Special and local legislation falling within 26 specified subjects was prohibited, and pre-announcement to the public was required before any legislative vote on local legislation. Also, there was a constitutional debt limit, and a number of other legislative subjects were prohibited. Sessions of the General Assembly were to be held every other year, replacing the annual sessions, and the size of the legislature was doubled on the theory that greater numbers would make it impractical for special interests to buy legislators' votes. The House was increased to two hundred members and the Senate to fifty. Provisions were included to thwart such tricks as the introduction of amendments to bills that contradicted the original purpose of the bill, writing ambiguous appropriations bills, and habitually sloughing over the required three readings of all bills. Several provisions were directed against the urban political machines: required numbering on all election ballots; the repeal of Philadelphia's unfairly partisan 1869 Registration Act; and halting the exorbitant fees that had been demanded by officials of Philadelphia and Allegheny counties. The 1838 constitution's provision against African American voting, by 1870 already illegal under the Fifteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, was removed from the state constitution. In addition to imposing a state debt ceiling, cities were limited in their freedom to operate under deficit financial arrangements. Also, an important political concept that many believed already existed in the abstract, the "police powers of the state," was specifically mentioned - and thus sanctioned - by a provision that the power of corporations could not abridge the state's police power.
Democratic delegates to the constitutional convention had been nearly as numerous as Republicans, and the constitution guaranteed minority party representation on both the Supreme Court and local election boards. In contrast with the 1838 constitution, which had been only narrowly approved by voters, 70 percent of voters approved the constitution of 1874.
Since the convention and the ratifying vote took place before the end of 1873, the new constitution has often been referred to as the constitution of 1873, but an act of the General Assembly has made "Constitution of 1874" the correct title.
The Spanish-American War
By 1895 the island of Cuba was in a state of revolution, its people desiring to break away from Spanish rule. News of harsh methods used to suppress Cuban efforts to achieve independence aroused anger in the United States. When the battleship U.S.S. Maine blew up in Havana Harbor in 1898, war became inevitable. Congressman Robert Adams of Philadelphia wrote the resolutions declaring war on Spain and recognizing the independence of Cuba. President McKinley's call for volunteers was answered with enthusiasm throughout the Commonwealth. At the first call for volunteers, 70 percent of the Pennsylvania National Guard came forth, consisting of 592 officers and 10,268 enlisted men. At the second call, 6,370 more were enlisted. Pennsylvania's military leaders included Brigadier General Abraham K. Arnold, Brigadier General James M. Bell, and Major General John R. Brooks, a native of Pottsville, who served as military governor in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Although no Pennsylvania troops fought in Cuba, the 10th Volunteer Regiment was the first American organization to engage in land combat in the Philippine Islands and remained for the Filipino Insurrection. The 4th and 16th Regiments fought in the Puerto Rican campaign.
A New State Capitol and a Shocking Scandal
In the closing decades of the nineteenth century the gradual increase in state government services exceeded the office capacity of the original 1822 Capitol Building and surrounding satellite buildings. Governor Hastings had just addressed the legislature on the problem when, unexpectedly, the 1822 building burned down on February 7, 1897. An excellent architectural plan for a new capitol was produced by architect Henry I. Cobb, but skimpy funding resulted in a pathetically inadequate structure that led, in turn, to the best architects refusing to take on another state contract. A talented but inexperienced architect, John M. Huston of Philadelphia, was awarded the contract for a new building to be completed in 1906. The deadline was met and the offices were occupied early in 1907, but Huston's arrogance and multiple administrative bungles led to what was known as the Capitol Graft Scandal. Laws and regulations meant to produce an honest, efficient project went awry. It became clear that the state's competitive purchasing system was flawed. A Capitol Building Board and a Grounds and Building Commission contradicted each other and duplicated each other's authority. Despite safeguards written into the legislation, the Grounds and Building Commission was allowed to cover construction costs and absorb expenses that spilled over the appropriation limits established by the legislature. Also, new government units were created by the General Assembly after the building was in blueprints, and they were promised headquarters space within a building not designed to accommodate them. Unexpectedly, public suspicion that a series of Republican State Treasurers had been dishonest led to a Democrat, William H. Berry, being elected State Treasurer in 1905. He quickly realized the furnishings of his offices in the new Capitol had cost far too much. While he waited to gather evidence, Huston and his contractors rushed millions of dollars of payments through the approval system. Inklings of scandal reached the public before the 1906 general election. Outgoing Governor Pennypacker arranged a lavish building dedication on October 4, at which President Theodore Roosevelt spoke, and then he also organized railroad excursions so the public could tour the beautiful new building. Incoming Governor Edwin S. Stuart fulfilled a campaign promise to authorize a thorough investigation of the building project. Those revelations led to indictments, convictions and judgments, both criminal and civil, for conspiracy to defraud the state. Although payments directly to public officials were never proven, prison sentences were imposed on Huston, his principal furnishing contractor John Sanderson, one former State Treasurer, and a former Auditor General. An incumbent congressman was also seriously implicated. All verdicts were based on illegal administration of the furnishings contracts, not the building's construction. The total cost of the building and furnishings was about $12.5 million, and reliable estimates indicate that the state had been overcharged by about $5 million. By 1911, Huston and Sanderson had made financial restitution of about $1.5 million.
On the fifth anniversary of the Capitol's dedication, the magnificent symbolic statues at the main entrance, the work of sculptor George Barnard, were unveiled in an inspiring ceremony. At the same time, former Governor Pennypacker published his defense of the entire Capitol project, The Desecration and Profanation of the Pennsylvania Capitol. He argued that political restrictions placed on his executive powers by a bumbling legislature were responsible for the state being overcharged. But he insisted that the total cost was not unreasonable in comparison with other major government structures at the time, and that the long future of efficient governance that could be expected to take place in the Capitol's halls fully justified such a high price.
At the Capitol 1906 dedication, President Roosevelt admired the new edifice but did not comment on the events involved in its creation. Instead, he advertised the new form of social progress he hoped to achieve through political leadership. His remarks epitomized his version of the optimistic goals of the nation's Progressive Movement, a widespread public attitude that flourished between about 1890 and the end of World War I. He vigorously exclaimed:
"The extraordinary industrial changes of the last half a century have produced a totally new set of conditions, under which new evils flourish; and of these new evils new remedies must be devised ... We need to check the forces of greed, to insure just treatment alike of capital and of labor, and of the general public, to prevent any man, rich or poor, from doing or receiving wrong, whether this wrong be one of cunning or of violence. Much can be done by wise legislation and by resolute enforcement of the law. But still more must be done by steady training of the individual citizen, in conscience and character, until he grows to abhor corruption and greed and tyranny and brutality and to prize justice and fair dealing."
Theodore Roosevelt was always popular in Pennsylvania, and in the presidential election of 1916 he carried a plurality of the state's electorate presumably because they preferred his "Bull Moose" Progressivism over the traditional goals of the Republican Party - which had refused to nominate him - and over the Democratic Party's Progressivism (termed "New Freedom") which was articulated by its candidate, Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey. However, Wilson won the election and became president.
New State Services
Although the new constitution was detailed, it allowed flexibility for creation of new agencies. Thus, in 1873, even while the new constitution was being discussed, the Insurance Department was created to supervise and regulate insurance companies. Also, the judicial branch of government was soon enlarged by the creation in 1895 of the Superior Court, which soon achieved its intended purpose by relieving an enormous case backlog from the shoulders of the Supreme Court. In the following years, many other agencies were created, sometimes as full-fledged departments and sometimes as boards, bureaus, or commissions, while existing agencies were often altered or abolished. For example, the Board of Public Charities (1869), the Committee on Lunacy (1883), the Mothers' Assistance Fund (1913), and the Prison Labor Commission (1915) were consolidated into the Department of Welfare in 1921. Also, the Factory Inspection Act of 1889 provided a foundation for the Department of Labor and Industry that was created in 1913. Not only did this new agency moderate labor disputes, but it acquired duties under a Mine Safety Act in 1903, a Factory Conditions Act of 1905, the Foundry Act of 1911, a Fire Drills Law of 1911, a Mattress Act of 1913, a Women's 54-hour Work Week Law passed in 1913, and the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1915. Also created in 1913 was the Public Service Commission. The state government's work force grew during and immediately following World War I, but the administration of Governor William C. Sproul left his successor, Governor Gifford Pinchot, 139 government agencies with few coordinating links between each one and little central direction. Nonetheless, through his Administrative Code of 1923, Pinchot, in the spirit of the Progressive philosophy, put the agencies under fifteen departments and three independent commissions, all responsible to him, and he made the governor's budget a mandatory step in preparing the state budget during each regular session of the General Assembly. The Administrative Code also standardized purchasing procedures and civil servants' salaries and duties. Although the Code was criticized, it was re-enacted with amendments in 1929. Although amended periodically after that, it still stands as the state's Administrative Code today. A Fiscal Code enacted in 1927 did still more to systematize bureaucratic methods. It created a separate Department of Revenue so that the collection of money due the state - taxes, fees, and other charges - was centralized.
The First World War
Pennsylvania's resources and manpower were of great value to the war effort of 1917-1918. The shipyards of Philadelphia and Chester were decisive in maintaining maritime transport. Pennsylvania's mills and factories provided a large part of the war materials for the nation. The railroad, coal, and steel industries in Pennsylvania may each be said to have reached all-time maximum output under stimulation of wartime demand. Nearly three thousand separate firms held contracts for war supplies of various types. Pennsylvanians subscribed to nearly three billion dollars worth of Liberty and Victory Bonds, and paid well over a billion dollars in federal taxes during the war. Civilian resources were organized through a State Defense Council with local affiliates. Pennsylvania furnished 324,115 men for the United States Army, of whom 226,115 arrived through the Selective Service System and 28,000 through the National Guard. There were 45,927 Pennsylvanians in the Navy and Marine Corps. Pennsylvania's soldiers suffered 10,278 combat deaths and 26,252 of them were wounded. The Pennsylvania units were engaged on the combat lines in France from July to the end of the struggle on November 11. The 28th Division served with distinction; it suffered 3,077 casualties. The Second Battle of the Marne, the Saint Mihiel drive, and the Argonne offensive were the major campaigns in which Pennsylvania troops took part. General Tasker H. Bliss, a native of Lewisburg, was appointed chief of staff of the Army in 1917, and later was made a member of the Supreme War Council and the American Peace Commission. He was succeeded as chief of staff by another Pennsylvania West Point graduate, General Peyton C. March, originally from Easton. Admiral William S. Sims, a Pennsylvania graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was in charge of American naval operations.
War's Turbulent Aftermath (1918-1922)
Exactly two months before the armistice that ended the combat, a new mutation of influenza virus emerged at Philadelphia Naval Yard when sailors who had just arrived there from Boston fell ill. The city soon experienced the worst ravages in the United States of the unexplained and misunderstood worldwide pandemic. Confusion and panic prevailed, magnified by the impotence of the city government. Coincidentally, Philadelphia patricians led by George Wharton Pepper had recently pushed the Vare bothers' political machine into a corner and had won Senator Penrose to their side. Now the reformers stepped in to set up emergency health services. Still, even medical experts did not understand the disease, and the death toll was only partially contained by isolating the living and promptly burying the dead. Peak mortality occurred the week of October 16 when 4,579 died. By February 1919, the virus had subsided in Philadelphia and moved to the nation's southeast. The incompetence of the city health system and a mistaken belief that neglect of street cleaning had contributed to the pandemic helped to convince the state legislature to approve a new city charter in June 1919. This removed many impractical features and attempted to thwart graft and corruption, although it achieved only some of these goals. The pandemic had raged over the entire state, killing disproportionate numbers in the crowded cities, and striking very hard at people in their years of greatest physical strength, between ages 18 to 45.
A brief depression followed the war's end, as the nation's economy adjusted to its peacetime functions. An unsuccessful steel strike of 1919 was part of the adjustment process. Although the workers were not granted collective bargaining, in 1923 company owners granted an eight-hour day and pay increases. In general, the idealism of Woodrow Wilson's goals of domestic and international progress lost its popularity, and the nation chose, instead, the administration of President Warren G. Harding which sought to restore "Normalcy." Unfortunately, this was soon marred by corruption and scandal. At the same time, a nationwide fear of militant communism, the "Red Scare," led to a rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan's terrorism, and it spread to Pennsylvania and other northern states.
Senator Penrose's demise on December 31, 1921, left Pennsylvania Republicans with four rivaling factions: The Vare brothers' system in Philadelphia which relied largely on city business, the wealthy Mellon family interests, Joseph Grundy of Bristol and his Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, and forester-politician Gifford Pinchot, who perpetuated the Theodore Roosevelt "Bull Moose" Progressive spirit. With Grundy's support, Pinchot was elected Governor in 1922, something Penrose would probably have been able to block. Pinchot appealed to women voters, prohibitionists, the farm vote, public utility customers, election reformers, nature lovers, and those who wanted more honest and efficient government operations.
There was ever increasing urbanization, although rural life remained strong and agriculture involved large numbers of people. The immigrant tide continued after the Civil War and brought about a remarkable change in the composition of the population. While most of the state's pre-1861 population was composed of ethnic groups from northern Europe such as the English, Irish, Scotch-Irish and Germans, the later period brought increased numbers of Slavic, Italian, Finn, Scandinavian, and Jewish immigrants. At the height of this "new immigration," between 1900 and 1910, the Commonwealth witnessed the largest population increase of any decade in its history. African American migration from the South intensified after 1917, when World War I curtailed European immigration, and again during World War II. By World War II almost five percent of the state's population was African American. In 1940 the Commonwealth was the second largest state in the nation with a population two-thirds that of New York.
The status of women began to improve by the 1860s. In 1861, the first school for nurses in America opened in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania played a prominent part in the suffrage movement, and Philadelphia was generally a hotbed of feminist agitation. In 1868, women in Philadelphia organized a Pennsylvania Women's Suffrage Association. On July 4, 1876, Susan B. Anthony read her famous "Declaration of Rights for Women" at the Washington statue in front of Independence Hall. Well-known Pennsylvania feminists such as Lucretia Mott, Ann Davies, Florence Kelley, Ann Preston, and Emma Guffey Miller were all active in the long battle which culminated in women receiving the right to vote.
The General Assembly approved a women's suffrage amendment to the state constitution in 1913 and again in 1915, but Pennsylvania's male voters rejected the amendment by fifty-five thousand votes. On June 4, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was approved by Congress. Just ten days later, Pennsylvania became the seventh state to ratify it. By August 1920, the amendment became law and women could vote.
Florence Kelley was a Philadelphia-born lawyer and social worker who championed the fight for better working conditions for women and children. For thirty-two years she was the leader of the National Consumers League, which demanded consumer protection as well as improved working conditions. Isabel Darlington was the first female lawyer admitted to practice before the Pennsylvania Supreme and Superior Courts.
Mother M. Katherine Drexel, Philadelphia heiress to part of the Drexel family's banking millions, founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People, worked diligently in their behalf, and gave generous amounts of her fortune to found homes and alleviate suffering among Native Americans and African Americans. She was canonized as St. M. Katherine Drexel by Pope John Paul II in 2000, thirty-five years after her death.
Sarah C.F. Hallowell was active in directing the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, and was in charge of a newspaper, The New Century, published by the Women's Executive Committee and staffed entirely by women who worked as editors, reporters, correspondents, and compositors.
When the ten greatest American painters of all time were exhibited in a special section of the Chicago Century of Progress Art Exhibition, Mary Cassatt was the only woman represented. Born in Allegheny City, she received her only formal training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Pennsylvania Academy has always regarded her as one of its most important alumnae, granting her its gold medal of honor in 1914.
From 1893 to 1906, Ida Tarbell, from Erie, worked for the publisher S.S. McClure as a feature writer and editor of McClure's Magazine. It was during this time that she published her History of the Standard Oil Company, a muckraking account which brought her to the forefront of her profession. Marianne Moore, who was educated at Bryn Mawr College and taught at the United States Indian School in Carlisle, was a famous poet and the winner of many international awards.
Because of the Quakers' traditional belief in women's profound intelligence and vast capabilities, Philadelphia had long been a center for female education. The founding of Women's Medical College there in 1850 led to the entrance of women into the medical profession. Hannah E. Myers Longshore was the first female with a medical degree to establish a successful private practice. Beaver College in Jenkintown was the first women's college of higher education in the state. Women were very successful in the teaching profession. Mollie Woods Hare pioneered in teaching the mentally retarded before World War I. In 1887, Ella M. Boyce was made school superintendent of Bradford, the first woman to hold such a position in the United States. Martha Carey Thomas became dean of Bryn Mawr College in 1884, the first woman college dean in the United States, and was president of Bryn Mawr from 1894 to 1922. She was also a leader of the organized social services the college provided for distressed working class women.
Pennsylvanians played an important role in the development of the labor movement, and the Commonwealth was the site of some of the largest strikes in the history of American labor. William H. Sylvis, from Indiana County, was a founder of the Iron Molders' International Union, and he later led the National Labor Union in 1868-69. Uriah Stephens of Philadelphia and Terence V. Powderly of Scranton were leaders of the Knights of Labor. Originally organized as a secret society, the Knights emerged publicly in 1881 and were the largest union in the United States until 1886. The organization enrolled workers from almost all occupations, without regard to skills or crafts. Under Terrance Powderly, the Knights worked for humanitarian legislation and were reluctant to strike. In 1886 both their failure to win a railroad strike and the nation's hostile mood following Chicago's violent Haymarket Riot caused the Knights to fall apart. In the same year, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) was formed by the amalgamation of many trade unions, an organizing principle just the opposite of the Knights' system.
Although production demands caused by the Civil War favored labor, there was discrimination against Irish miners in the anthracite region. In 1862, resistance to the military draft further angered some Irish miners. Several clandestine murders of mine operators and bosses were publicly attributed to an Irish secret society, the Molly Maguires. After the war a union, the Workingmen's Benevolent Association (WBA), developed strength in the anthracite district, but a rival, the Miners' National Association, stole much of its membership in 1874. The WBA was not strong enough to outlast the coal companies in its "Long Strike" of 1875, and railroad magnate Franklin B. Gowen convinced courts that the WBA was associated with the Molly Maguires. Gowen employed a spy, James McParlan, who infiltrated both the union and the Molly Maguires and gave evidence that resulted in the execution of twenty men for the murders. The legal procedures used in these arrests, trials, and convictions have received much criticism, as has Governor Hartranft for failing to consider commuting the execution of the Molly Maguire leader Jack Kehoe. A posthumous pardon was issued for Kehoe by Governor Milton J. Shapp's administration in 1978.
Continued trouble in the anthracite region, reverberating into the expanding bituminous mining region, gave rise to the United Mine Workers (UMW) in 1890. A massacre of protesting Slavic miners in 1897 at the Lattimer Mine was followed by rapid growth of the UMW. At first a union for skilled miners opposed to immigrant mine laborers, under the leadership of John Mitchell it grew to encompass all coal mine workers. The anthracite strike of 1902, in which President Theodore Roosevelt intervened, set the pattern for non-violent arbitration in labor relations. After Mitchell, John L. Lewis led the union for many years and membership spread throughout the bituminous areas. Intervention in the anthracite strikes of the 1920s by Governor Gifford Pinchot brought the eight-hour day but no permanent end to labor discontent; many anthracite customers began to shift to other heating sources at that time. Mine owners as well as some owners of iron and steel plants started using private police units, authorized by Pennsylvania laws, to arrest, harass, and assault laborers who expressed discontent and to protect industrial property. These were known as coal and iron police. Governor Pennypacker's administration took steps to minimize the licensing of these organizations, and in 1929 they were subjected to higher standards of conduct.
The Great Railroad Strike of the summer of 1877 was a national movement, but its climax took place at the Pennsylvania Railroad properties in Pittsburgh. The several unions of skilled railroad workers, the railroad brotherhoods, provoked the strike because of wage cuts, but large groups of citizens unassociated with the railroads took up the strikers' cause. Although federal troops eventually quelled the riots, the unions remained intact. In the similarly bloody Homestead Strike of 1892, however, the Amalgamated Iron and Steel Workers' Association was forced to capitulate to the Carnegie Company and its executive, Henry C. Frick. As a result, the steel industry was not effectively unionized until the late 1930s. In 1919, on the tail of World War I's high production accomplishments, workers at steel plants throughout the state struck for the eight-hour day and the right to collective bargaining. In 1923 the major steel companies were shamed into granting the eight-hour workday, but it was not until the late 1930s that most steelworkers were legally organized. Western Pennsylvania was the area for the formation of the Steel Workers Organization Committee (SWOC), which in 1942 became the United Steelworkers of America. Since the labor legislation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s, unions have flourished and workers have received fairer treatment. It was a dispute over the right of SWOC to organize workers at the Aliquippa plant of Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation that led in 1936 to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding the constitutionality of the Wagner Labor Relations Act and its agency, the National Labor Relations Board. This was a major advance for the cause of labor. President Roosevelt's federal New Deal was mirrored in miniature by the Pennsylvania Democratic "Little New Deal" between 1937 and 1939, as discussed below.
Industry and Commerce
In the period from 1865 to the end of the century Philadelphia gradually ceased to be the competitive rival of New York City in finance, as the Wall Street complex rose to become the titan of world capitalism. Among the factors involved were the geographical superiority of New York harbor, the New York Stock Exchange that standardized its system of operation in 1817, the opening of the Erie Canal in 1819 giving New York access to the hinterland unblocked by the Allegheny Mountains, and the telegraphic ticker tape first put into operation in 1867. The parallel careers of Philadelphia's Anthony J. Drexel and Jay Cooke were part of the shift to Wall Street. Cooke's superior salesmanship enabled him to market most of the bonds that financed the Union's Civil War efforts, but his infatuation with the Northern Pacific Railroad led him into risky debt ventures that in turn produced the Panic of 1873, a national economic depression lasting for six years. Meanwhile, Drexel became the leading strategist for his family's investment banking house in Philadelphia and grew stronger through associates in Paris, London, and San Francisco, while investing more diversely that Cooke and not in western railroads projected into virtually uninhabited spaces. In 1871 Drexel merged with the powerful John Pierpont Morgan of New York City, and Drexel's satellite office in Manhattan became Drexel Morgan's busiest work site. Today it is believed that for the rest of his life the unpretentious Drexel was secretly the guiding genius of the firm until his death in 1893.
The manufacture of iron and steel products was the largest single industry. The lives of Andrew Carnegie, Henry C. Frick, Charles M. Schwab, Eugene Grace, and other "iron men" of Pennsylvania in large measure tell the story of modern American business. Concentrated for the most part in western Pennsylvania, but with important centers also at Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Lewistown, Carlisle, and Morrisville, Pennsylvania's steel industry furnished the rails for the nation's railway empire, the structural steel for its modern cities, and the armament for national defense.
The career of Andrew Carnegie, a Scotch immigrant, coincided with the rise of Pennsylvania's steel industry. Starting as a telegrapher for the Pennsylvania Railroad, he handled messages for the Army during the Civil War and entered railroad management thereafter. In 1873 he began to build new steel mills. His success in steel went on and on. Carnegie balanced his own success and ability by pledging to pay the world back through benevolent distribution of his wealth. In 1901 he sold Carnegie Steel Corporation to J.P. Morgan's new giant corporation, U.S. Steel, and spent the rest of his life managing his enormous charitable foundation.
Charles M. Schwab was born in Williamsburg in Blair County and attended St. Francis College. He taught himself metallurgy in a chemistry lab in his own basement and rose to be Carnegie's managing president. Schwab decided that he preferred to invest his own savings, so he bought Bethlehem Steel Company. He successfully advanced its interests until his death in 1939, making sure that the giant he had helped spawn, U.S. Steel, always had strong competition.
U.S. Steel Corporation was concentrated within a 100-mile radius around Pittsburgh. By sheer size it set industry standards, its ownership spilling over into the coal, coke, limestone and iron ore industries. By 1900, the steel industry had begun its inevitable migration west of Pennsylvania, but 60 percent of the nation's production still came from our state. This slipped below 50 percent by 1916, but our steel industry received new life as a result of World War I. In the 1920s the growth of the auto industry gave steel renewed vigor, and World War II revived the industry once again. By that time, the aluminum industry was also growing in western Pennsylvania, where Andrew W. Mellon was the main financier of the giant Alcoa Corporation.
In the nineteenth century, textiles and clothing manufacturing, especially worsteds and silk, grew from a base in Philadelphia, so that the state led the nation in production by 1900. Willingness to invest in new technology and new styles was largely responsible. Philadelphia's "merchant prince" John Wanamaker led the way in producing ready-made stylish clothing and their retail distribution on a very large scale. By the 1920s, however, competition from the South and overseas made inroads into textile production. In 1900 the state also led the nation in tanning leather.
Food processing grew into a major industry - 1905 was the year of the Hershey Chocolate factory and the incorporation of the H.J. Heinz Company. Henry J. Heinz, known as "The Good Provider," led a movement for model factories based on the principle that workers deserved clean, pleasant work conditions with some chance for self-improvement. Also, he fought for federal legislation outlawing commercially processed foods that had false labels and harmful chemical adulterations. This culminated in the passage of federal legislation in 1906.
During this period, Pennsylvania dominated the manufacture of railroad equipment. In the twentieth century, electrical equipment manufacture also became prominent. George Westinghouse was a leader in both these fields. His air brake, patented in 1869, revolutionized railroading and was followed by his numerous inventions of signals, switches, and other safety features for trains. His Union Switch and Signal Company was formed in Pittsburgh in 1882, and about that time he turned to improving natural gas transmission and control. Then he turned to improving the nation's utilization of electricity by perfecting a means for generating large amounts of power in a more practical form, alternating current. Soon this replaced its predecessor, direct current, throughout the nation. Eventually all Westinghouse's laboratory and manufacturing plants were moved out of Pittsburgh to nearby Turtle Creek Valley.
Representative of America's "Management Revolution" was the Philadelphia genius Frederick Winslow Taylor, who abandoned a law career because of poor eyesight and worked as a laboring mechanic. He excelled at organizing work shops. Soon he advanced to making improvements in the organization of major corporations like Bethlehem Steel, for which he worked from 1898 to 1901. While there he developed a revolutionary method for producing fine tool steel. He set up his own management consulting company in Philadelphia, becoming America's first efficiency engineer. His crowning achievement was the publication in 1911 of Scientific Management.
Although the period from 1920 until the stock market crash of October 1929 was one of great monetary and material growth, Pennsylvania experienced temporary declines during these years in three basic economic sectors: coal, agriculture, and textiles. Bituminous coal and agriculture yielded to strong competition from states to the west, and the textiles industry lost ground to factories in southern states. Some of this was geographically inevitable as the nation expanded. Pennsylvania's infant auto industry, however, lost out to Michigan largely due to the daring and initiative of such innovators as Henry Ford.
Lumber, Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Coal
Pennsylvania has exercised leadership in the extractive industries of lumber, petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Many of the natural stands of timber were exhausted before conservation concepts were recognized. In the 1860s the state led the nation in lumber production, but by 1900 it had dropped to fourth. During that period, Williamsport's log boom on the Susquehanna had been the world's largest lumber pile. Twentieth-century timber conservation planning owes much to Gifford Pinchot, the nation's first professional forester. Actual replanting of trees and the state's purchase of land that had been denuded by private lumber enterprisers were programs initiated in the late 1930s and the post-World War II periods.
Following the discovery of oil near Titusville in 1859, the production and marketing of Pennsylvania oil grew. The oil-producing counties extended from Tioga west to Crawford and south to the West Virginia line. By 1891 Warren, Venango, and McKean counties established leadership in production. Once practical methods of transmitting and burning natural gas were developed, Pennsylvania also became a leading producer in that area. John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company was always foremost in the refining and marketing petroleum. The early lead Pennsylvania achieved in oil made the Keystone State the natural battleground for competing investors. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in 1868 and, as a result of a freight price rebate deal with the New York Central Railroad, it grew to be the world's largest refinery by 1870. To overwhelm Pennsylvania's small independent refiners, he engaged in secret agreements with such powerful interests as the Pennsylvania Railroad. He allowed the independent refiners to survive - they finally merged into the Pure Oil Company just before 1900 - as long as they did not undersell Standard Oil. The corporate organizing of refiners in Pennsylvania before 1900 is one reason the state would long continue to be a leading refining area even though the crude oil had to be almost entirely imported. Natural gas, more dangerous to harness for industrial or household use than oil, was also used extensively as soon as ways to transmit it were developed. The plate glass industry got a major boost because gas ignition could so rapidly produce the high temperatures the glass process needed. But in a few years the great abundance of gas subsided.
Anthracite coal was the main fuel used to smelt iron until the 1880s, when the manufacture of coke from bituminous coal was developed to a degree that it replaced anthracite. Coke was used both to smelt iron and to make steel from iron. But production of anthracite continued to increase because it was used for heating and other purposes. The bituminous and coke industries were responsible for the late nineteenth century industrial growth of western Pennsylvania; the iron ore deposits there would not alone have merited such growth. World War I caused two years (1917-1918) of the largest production of both types of coal the state has ever seen. In the 1920s a new coke-making process produced valuable by-products, making the old beehive coke ovens obsolete. The new coke plants were built, in many cases, outside of Pennsylvania. A declining market for coal in the 1920s caused business and labor problems. These increased in the 1930s during the nation's economic depression. Production demands in World War II revived the coal industry for those few years. In its heyday the industry was notorious for its work hazards. Between 1902 and 1920, mine accident deaths occurred on an average of 525 per year.
The prosperous farms of the Pennsylvania Germans have always been a bulwark of our agricultural economy. The settlement and development of western and northern Pennsylvania initially occurred because of agriculture. Cereals and livestock continued to be the mainstays of the farmer. The rise of agricultural societies such as the Grange and of county fairs led to improvements in farm methods and machinery. Pennsylvania turned toward a market-oriented approach in the mid-1800s. While the number of farms has declined since 1900, farm production has increased dramatically to meet consumer demands.
After 1880, the pattern of increasing total area farmed in Pennsylvania, which began in the colonial period, ended. Total farm acreage has declined ever since, but this trend has been outweighed by improved farming methods. In 1874 a dairymen's association was formed; in 1876 a State Board of Agriculture was created which was transformed into the Department of Agriculture in 1895. In 1887 the federal government established an agricultural experiment station at the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania, in Centre County (the predecessor of the Pennsylvania State University), and cooperation between the college's faculty and working farmers, so important for improving production, began. In 1895 a State Veterinarian was appointed, who eventually eliminated bovine tuberculosis. The nature of farm products changed because of competition from expanding agriculture in the West, distances from markets, and changing patterns of the American diet. The first statewide farm products show was held in Harrisburg in January 1907. The State Farm Show became an annual event beginning in 1917, and the present Farm Show Building was completed in 1931. The decade of the 1920s was one of adjustment for the state's farm economy. Improvements in food preservation, especially large canning operations and refrigeration, enabled the agricultural abundance of areas all the way to the Pacific to be competitive in the large U.S. eastern cities. Although Pennsylvania's dairy industry declined, it did not fall as much as field crop production. The demand for dairy products and meat refrigeration led to a shift toward livestock and increased pasture areas and away from ground crops. In 1919, Pennsylvania agreed to merge its plan for control of bovine tuberculosis with that proposed by Congress, and in 1923 the General Assembly began appropriating amounts large enough to pay for the widespread cattle testing this required. After a long struggle, in 1935 all cattle in the state were under control for tuberculosis and the results were verified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1936. In June 1936 the State Supreme Court upheld a statute that gave the State Milk Control Commission the power to fix milk prices, and the "Little New Deal" legislation of 1937 gave the Commission power to control the entire milk process. Under stimulation of a federal meat inspection law of 1903, Pennsylvania passed a state inspection law covering meat processes extending from butchering to the retail markets.
Pennsylvania pioneered in early rail development. By 1860 railroad mileage had increased to 2,598, and the Reading, Lehigh, and Pennsylvania systems were developing. The Pennsylvania Railroad, chartered in 1846, reached Pittsburgh in 1852. Alexander Cassatt, Thomas Scott, and John A. Roebling, who was the surveyor of the Pennsylvania's route, were leaders in its development. After 1865 Pennsylvania extended its lines to New York, Washington, Buffalo, Chicago, and St. Louis, becoming one of the great trunk-line railroads of the nation, and developed a network of subsidiary lines within the state. The Reading and Lehigh Valley systems also expanded to become great carriers of freight and important links in the industrial economy of the Middle Atlantic region. Numerous smaller lines were built to serve districts or special purposes. For example, the Bessemer and Lake Erie carried Lake Superior ore to the steel mills of Pittsburgh. All the important trunk lines of the eastern United States passed through Pennsylvania and had subsidiary feeders within the state. At its peak, the Commonwealth had more than 10,000 miles of railroad track. By 1915 the state's railroads had ceased to expand, and after World War I both passenger and freight service were reduced.
Pennsylvania has a long tradition of urban public transport, beginning with horse-drawn cars in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the 1850s. The first of many Pittsburgh inclines - two of which operate today - opened in 1870. Philadelphia's first streetcar system began in 1892, and the Market Street Elevated train began operation in 1907. The Market Street Subway, which is still in operation, was one of the first in the nation. Transit use increased steadily in Pennsylvania until the end of World War II.
Although 1,700 state-owned bridges were built before 1900, road building activity had lapsed during the canal and railroad era. It sprang anew with the advent of the automobile. Charles and Frank Duryea experimented with automobiles in Reading, and on March 24, 1898, Robert Allison of Port Carbon became the first purchaser of an automobile. Between 1903 and 1911 Pennsylvania took the lead in creating a modern road system, establishing a Department of Highways, requiring automobile licenses, and taking over more than 8,000 miles of highway for maintenance and improvement. Operators' license fees, fines for violation of driving regulations, and a gasoline tax swelled the Motor Fund, making the motoring public the chief funder of the system. Most highway construction consisted of improvements to existing routes, including widening, laying hard surfaces, and relocating routes to eliminate sharp curves and grades. Repair garages and filling stations became numerous. The world's first "drive-in gas station" opened in Pittsburgh in 1913. An outstanding road was the Lincoln Highway. Designated in 1913, it connected the state's two largest cities and stretched from New York City to San Francisco. In 1916 the federal government instituted grants to states for highway construction, beginning a great primary highway construction effort which peaked in the 1930s. By 1928 the transcontinental system of U.S.-numbered, through highways was in use in Pennsylvania, and at about the same time an expanded state-numbered system came into being. Governor Gifford Pinchot promised in his 1930 campaign to "get the farmers out of the mud." The following year, the state took over 20,156 miles of township roads and began paving them, using light construction costing less than $7,000 a mile. As the economic depression deepened, this road-building program became an important means of providing relief work. Special federal programs also benefited the state's highways during the Depression. In 1940 Pennsylvania opened the first high-speed, multi-lane highway in the country, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which set the pattern for modern super-highways throughout the nation. The Turnpike initially connected Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, and was later expanded from the western boundary to the Delaware River, as well as northward into the anthracite region.
In 1925 Philadelphia Congressman Clyde Kelly introduced the Airmail Act which set the American aviation industry on the road to progress. In 1927 Governor Pinchot created a State Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1939, All American Aviation, a Pennsylvania company, was licensed to carry mail to 54 communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, and West Virginia. All American entered a period of rapid expansion and became Allegheny Airlines. By the beginning of World War II passenger service was still in its infancy, although the very reliable DC-3 plane had been developed. Hog Island was developed in the late 1930s, with city and federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) assistance, and it became the Philadelphia International Airport.
Society and Culture
Pennsylvania made rapid progress in social and cultural fields by expanding educational and cultural opportunities. Although Philadelphia lost the preeminent position it had earlier enjoyed as a center for new enterprises, the wealth and position of the state as a whole exerted a powerful influence in almost every phase of the nation's social and cultural development.
Communication, Performing Arts, and the Media
Philadelphia was the birthplace of many publications and served as the center of publishing in the early national period. By 1840 Pennsylvania was the home of more newspapers than any other state. In the first half of the twentieth century, economic pressures forced many newspapers and magazines into bankruptcy, failure, or consolidation, but all county seats and most manufacturing communities were well served daily by reasonably accurate newspaper service.
Telegraph and telephone spread rapidly after the Civil War. Following Samuel Morse's development of the telegraph in the 1840s, the state was interlaced by a network of telegraph lines. Alexander Graham Bell's telephone was first demonstrated publicly at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876. By the end of the century, the telephone had become universal. Pennsylvanian Daniel Drawbaugh claimed to have invented a working telephone ten years before Bell, but his claim did not hold up in patent litigation.
Pennsylvania played a key role in the development of a major twentieth-century contribution to the dissemination of ideas and information - the radio. The first commercial broadcast station in the world was KDKA in Pittsburgh, which started daily schedule broadcasting on November 2, 1920. The first church service broadcast by radio occurred on KDKA a year later, and the first public address by radio was made by Herbert Hoover at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh in 1921. Radio quickly became a fixture in most homes, but lost its dominance in the broadcasting market with the advent of television in the 1950s.
Philadelphia, which had been the theatrical capital of America before 1830, continued to be a leader in music publishing and piano manufacture and was the birthplace of American opera. Edwin Forest, Joseph Jefferson, the Drews, and the Barrymores were important stage actors in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. The first all-motion-picture theater in the world was opened on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh on June 19, 1905, by John P. Harris and Harry Davis. The term "nickelodeon" was coined there. The Warner brothers, who would become major Hollywood movie producers, began their careers in western Pennsylvania.
The major elements of our contemporary education system evolved during this period. The public common schools gained such respect that they received special treatment in the state constitution of 1874. An annual appropriation of $1,000,000 was guaranteed for education of all children above age six, a figure 24 percent higher than any previous appropriation and an announcement of what a major financial burden schools would be in the future. The system was tightened up: sectarian schools would no longer be supported, school district indebtedness was limited, the state superintendent was renamed Superintendent of Public Instruction, he was exempted from partisan removal, and laws concerning school management and school buildings were required to apply to all school districts. In 1895, compulsory attendance became the law, although resistance and evasion persisted for many years. In the same year, every school district was authorized to operate a public secondary or high school, and in 1903 districts still without high schools had to pay for their resident children to attend a high school in another district. From the late nineteenth century through the first decades of the twentieth century, rivalry between secondary schools that were academies and the high schools was rampant. Academy backers insisted that upper grade education was not intended for all adolescents. Public high schools eventually prevailed. As high school standards improved, many families decided not to pay both academy tuition and school district taxes.
The retreat of academies and growth of public high schools are associated with the rise of the theory that all education in public schools must be useful and practical. This was suggested by William Penn's Frame of Government of 1683: "children ... shall be taught some useful trade or skill, to the end that none may be idle, but the poor may work to live, and the rich, if they become poor, may not want." However, the establishment of vocational curriculum in the public schools began in the late nineteenth century because the indentured apprentice system of teaching trades largely disappeared when huge factories replaced small craft shops. Manual training - later dignified as "industrial arts," which, in turn, has been replaced by "vocational-technical" curriculum - then took its place beside training in farming basics in the public schools. "Domestic Science" was the authorized equivalent for girls. In 1913 the Showalter Act set up a statewide program by establishing Agricultural and Industrial Divisions.
The Schools Code of 1911 was a major compilation of measures which largely prevailed until the alterations created by the Edmonds Act of 1921, the reforms of Superintendent Thomas E. Finegan. The 1911 Code created classifications for school districts, types of high schools, and teaching certificates. Salaries were scaled according to the certification classifications, and the act set up a Board of Education to oversee the school system. It was empowered to purchase the state normal schools, and it owned 13 by 1920. Governor Sproul appointed the New York educator, Dr. Thomas E. Finegan, who reorganized the Department of Public Instruction into ten bureaus and drafted the Edmonds Act. That statute created a State Education Council which consolidated the duties of the Board of Education and the Council of Colleges and Universities. Major changes involved the state agency taking full control of certification and beginning to prescribe minimum curriculum standards in detail, as well as rules for attendance, sanitation, and construction. Equalization between rich and poor districts and urban and rural districts became a policy goal. A degree of resentment arose at the local level. The completion of the Education Building in Harrisburg in 1929, capped this period of progress, and reduction of the number or districts as well as elimination of one-room rural schools were envisioned. However, during the Depression of the 1930s, major funding reductions were necessary which had long-term effects on the quality of teaching and the physical plant. During World War II vocational training for industries essential for the struggle were emphasized, but understaffing and structural deterioration occurred.
Science and Invention
Scientific leadership in Pennsylvania was exhibited by many individuals. Isaac Hayes of Philadelphia pioneered in the study of astigmatism and color blindness. The four Rogers brothers of Philadelphia were a remarkable scientific family. James and Robert were noted chemists; William was the state geologist of Virginia and later president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Henry directed the first geological survey of Pennsylvania. Spencer Baird of Reading was a leader in the natural sciences and the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Joseph Saxton of Huntingdon was the father of photography in America.
Pennsylvanians also led in invention and the application of science in industry and daily life. John A. Roebling, who came to America in 1839 and spent most of his active life in Pennsylvania, led in the development of steel wire rope and steel bridges, and his engineering work was carried forward by his son, Washington. William Kelly exhibited leadership in invention. Edward G. Acheson, chemist and inventor, contributed to the development of carborundum as an abrasive and graphite as a lubricant. Henry P. Armsby, director of the Pennsylvania State University Agricultural Experiment Station, was internationally known for his contributions to nutritional science. Edgar Fahs Smith of the University of Pennsylvania was a leading American chemist and helped to found the American Chemical Society. In the field of medicine, the Hahnemann Medical College, Jefferson Medical College, and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School made Philadelphia one of the outstanding medical centers of the nation. Medical colleges were established at the University of Pittsburgh in 1885 and at Temple University in 1901. These institutions made noteworthy contributions to medical science.
John A. Brashear of Pittsburgh was important in the development of astronomical precision instruments, which made great contributions to knowledge. The inventor George Westinghouse, while not a native of the state, spent the greater portion of his life here. The earliest successful experiment of Thomas A. Edison with electric lighting was made in Sunbury. John R. Carson and Dr. Harry Davis of Pittsburgh were notable for contributions to the development of radio. Elihu Thomson, one of the founders of General Electric, continued the Franklin tradition in electrical science. The world's first computer was developed at the University of Pennsylvania. In recent times, the engineering schools of the state's universities and such institutions as the Franklin Institute and the Mellon Institute have placed Pennsylvania in the forefront of modern industrial invention.
The Great Depression, "Little New Deal," and Republican Return
The stock market collapse of 1929 soon turned into the nation's greatest depression, and Pennsylvania suffered more than other states because of its large industrial labor force. In November 1931, one year after Gifford Pinchot had been returned to the governorship, 24 percent of the state's work force was unemployed. By 1933 unemployment reached 37 percent. Gradual recovery followed until 1937 when there was a second downturn. Only the war-related production demands of the Second World War, which began in Europe in 1939, restored vitality to the economy. Combining his trademark progressive solutions with strong advocacy of financial payments to help the destitute and unemployed survive, the Governor struggled with a conservative State Senate that insisted that the old poor relief system was adequate. After the federal New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared in 1933, Governor Pinchot drew most of Pennsylvania's relief funds from that source. He succeeded in placing all relief funds, state and federal, under a State Emergency Relief Board which won praise for honesty and efficiency, but Pinchot's other suggestions for alleviating suffering were largely repudiated by the State Senate and other influential conservatives. Democratic Governor George H. Earle III took office in 1936, but it was not until the Democrats elected a majority in the Senate in 1937 that he achieved most of the goals of his "Little New Deal," policies modeled on Roosevelt's sweeping changes at the federal level. The heaviest state tax burden was shifted from real estate to corporations, and new safeguards stopped individuals from shifting taxable assets out of state. Large federal appropriations were made for schools, bridges, post offices, parks, and dams, and state officers administered these projects. A "Little Wagner Labor Act" restricted labor injunctions, and outlawed company unions as well as such unfair labor practices as planting spies among the workers and blacklisting workers who supported union activities. A Public Utilities Commission empowered to set utility rates replaced the weak Public Services Commission, as Pinchot had wanted. A "Little Agricultural Adjustment Act" was also imposed. Such state projects as reforestation, soil conservation, flood control, clean streams, and the beginning of the Pennsylvania Turnpike improved circumstances for all citizens and at the same time provided employment. Yet, for reasons that are still debated, Pennsylvania voters elected a conservative Republican, Judge Arthur H. James of Luzerne County, to the governorship in 1938, rather than voting approval of the "Little New Deal." Much admired for his humanity, impeccable honesty, and sympathy for laborers, Governor James, ironically, did not need to attack the innovations provoked by the Depression because the return to full employment, arising from World War II, gradually eliminated the need for many of those state and federal programs.
The Second World War
In June 1945, two months before the end of World War II, 1,171,127 Pennsylvanians were serving or had served in the wartime armed forces. Pennsylvania was second only to New York in the number who served, and it can be said that one out of every seven members of the armed forces was a Pennsylvanian. In June 1945, Pennsylvania placed about 667,000 men and 12,913 women in the Army, 49,926 men and 7,444 women in the Navy, 39,466 men and 1,530 women in the Marine Corps, and 11,669 men and 843 women in the Coast Guard. About four-fifths of the men who entered the Army had been drafted. The chief of staff, General of the Army George C. Marshall, was a native of Uniontown, and the commander of the Army Air Forces was General of the Army Henry H. Arnold, born in Gladwyne. Pennsylvania also had three full generals: Jacob L. Devers, from York, commander of the Sixth Army Group; Joseph T. McNarney, from Emporium, Deputy Allied Commander in the Mediterranean; and Carl Spaatz, from Boyertown, commander of the American Strategic Air Forces in Europe. Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton, from Pittsburgh, commanded the First Allied Airborne Army, and Lieutenant General Alexander M. Patch, from Lebanon, commanded the Seventh Army. The Chief of Naval Operations at the outbreak of hostilities was Admiral Harold R. Stark, from Wilkes-Barre, who later became commander of American naval forces in European waters. Admiral Richard S. Edwards, from Philadelphia, was deputy chief of naval operations, and an adopted Philadelphian, Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, commanded the Seventh Fleet in the South Pacific.
Altogether, there were 130 generals and admirals from Pennsylvania. More Medals of Honor were awarded to Pennsylvanians than to citizens of any other state. There were 40 military and naval installations in Pennsylvania, including two large camps, Indiantown Gap and Camp Reynolds. All the Army's doctors received training at Carlisle Barracks, and the Navy's photographic reconnaissance pilots were instructed at the Harrisburg Airport. The Philadelphia Navy Yard built two of the world's largest battleships and many lesser vessels. Among a dozen military depots in the state were Mechanicsburg Naval Supply Depot, Middletown Air Depot, Letterkenny Ordnance Depot, Frankford Arsenal, and the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot.
Pennsylvania's industrial resources made it the "Arsenal of America." Planes, tanks, armored cars, guns, and shells poured out of its factories. Ships were launched in the Delaware and Ohio rivers and on Lake Erie. Steady streams of war goods flowed over its railroads and highways. Pennsylvania oil lubricated the machines of war, and its coal kept the steel mills going. Food from its fields fed war workers and soldiers. In total war production Pennsylvania ranked sixth among the states, in shipbuilding fifth, and in ordnance fourth. It furnished almost one-third of the nation's steel. More money was spent to expand production capacity in Pennsylvania than in any other state. Three hundred Pennsylvania firms were honored with production awards. Pennsylvanians paid over two billion dollars a year in taxes and were second only to New Yorkers in the purchase of war bonds. Under the leadership of the State Council of Defense, more than a million and a half people were organized to protect the state against enemy attack and to aid in the war effort.