Earlier this year, a Huff/Post/YouGov poll revealed that 45% of Americans believe in ghosts, or in the spirits of the dead, and that those revenants can and have often returned to certain places and situations known in life. Though many are skeptical of such beliefs, Carl Jung, the famed psychologist, summed it up quite well in 1919, when he remarked that, “I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.”
Hugh Purvis, a native of Philadelphia, along with John Andrews of York County, Pennsylvania, were two of fifteen United States sailors and marines to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for their involvement in a Korean War. This is not to be confused with the Korean War, which transpired from 1950 to 1953, in which the United States suffered over thirty-six thousand casualties.
Though most people are familiar with Wild West characters such as showman Buffalo Bill Cody and sharpshooter Annie Oakley, far fewer have heard of famed theatrical promoter Gordon William Lillie, known as Pawnee Bill, and his Philadelphia connections. Lillie was born in Illinois, but he spent time living in Philadelphia and organized numerous Wild West shows in Harrisburg.
When one thinks of early Quakers or members of the Society of Friends, a common stereotype is that they were predominately pacifists, or non-aggressive in nature. Though this may be true to a large degree, like individuals of all faiths, there are those who fail to fit the prescribed behavior and instead exhibit characteristics quite distinct and independent of the norm. Born in 1799, Josiah Harlan, a Quaker from Chester County, Pennsylvania, was one such character.
As one of the last surviving signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was invited to attend and speak at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of American independence in Washington, DC. Though Jefferson failed to attend because of ailing health, he wrote a poignant letter to Washington’s mayor, Roger C. Weightman, on June 24, 1826.
Gottlieb Mittelberger immigrated to Philadelphia from Germany in 1750 in search of the “American Dream.” He returned to Germany late in the year 1754, never to return. Afterward he published his memoir of his sojourn in America1. From the start, both his voyage to the New World, as well as his life in the American colonies, did not turn out the way he’d expected. Nor was he particularly thrilled with events he learned of during his stay in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Abolition Society was founded in 1775 by a group of mostly Quaker men in Philadelphia. Originally called “the Pennsylvania Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage,” the group’s primary mission at that time was to render aid to free people of color who had been wrongfully enslaved.
Recently the world watched with shock, or perhaps with humor, at the recent debacle in the Ukrainian Parliament when lawmakers literally got into a brawl with each other over an election. Fists were flying and punches landed on many a member that day in December of 2012. Though many viewers within the United States have seen, heard, or read many of the verbal salvos or accusations being hurled between members of the Senate or House of Representatives in the current political climate of Congress, they have not come to physical blows.
January marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, one of the most important documents in American history. Popular history often portrays Abraham Lincoln as the "Great Emancipator,” as most recently seen in the Stephen Spielberg film Lincoln. As a film review in the City Journal states, actor Daniel Day-Lewis “gives us Lincoln as we wish to see him.” The notion that Lincoln was an abolitionist who always wished to free African Americans from bondage is “fictory” rather than “history.”
As is demonstrated with the popularity of the present movie The Hobbit and its literary and cinematic successor The Lord of the Rings series, as written by J.R.R. Tolkien, the western world is obsessed once again with dwarves and elves. Tolkien was a distinguished linguistic professor and specialist of Anglo-Saxon and Nordic literature. It is not surprising that the names borne by the dwarves in The Hobbit derive from Scandinavian mythology.