Vincent Fraley

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As anyone with a hangover on April 15 knows, taxes and whiskey have never mixed. George Washington learned this lesson the hard way when facing off against the largest organized resistance to federal authority between the Revolution and the Civil War: the Whiskey Rebellion.

In the years after Yankee victory at Yorktown, the nascent United States became shackled to a foe far more tyrannical than a British monarch: budgetary imbalance.

9/1/15

As students and parents prepare for the coming school year, consider the half-century career of educator Mary Anna Longstreth.

Born in Philadelphia, Longstreth (1811-1884) began her schooling at 2 years old, "according to the strictest traditions of the Society of Friends," as recorded by the Mary Anna Longstreth Alumnae Association. At 13, Longstreth was already instructing her younger sisters in Latin.

"Her early training made work the habit of her life," recounted a future colleague.

8/24/15

When it comes to Philadelphia's connection to the history of television, many believe it to stretch only as far as the hemlines and pegged pants of modish teens on American Bandstand. However, the city's pixilated past deserves a high-definition look.

It was at the Franklin Institute that inventor Philo Farnsworth demonstrated the first electronic television set to the public. TV Guide launched its channel safaris from a small office in Center City, while the inventor of instant replay, Tony Verna, also called the city home.

8/17/15

As pro golfers head to the 97th PGA Championship in Wisconsin this month, local golfers can tee up with a look at Philadelphia's intimate connection to the game through Rodman Wanamaker, son of the department-store magnate John Wanamaker.

8/4/15

To Benjamin Franklin's successes in science, statecraft, and slyness, add a lesser-known exploit: postal service.

Among the many hardships of colonial life, lack of communication perhaps ranked right behind hunger and fear. In the absence of a service operated by the British crown, many fledgling colonies instituted private mail systems. In 1683, the Pennsylvania Assembly decreed "All justices of the peace, sheriffs or constables . . . empowered to press either man or horse" to deliver mail, allowing "two pence per mile to be paid out of the public stock" for any inconvenience.

7/28/15

"That separate and distinct churches for colored people are now established here, and in different parts of the country, is a fact," begin the 1861 Annals of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. Yet this fact was not always so firm.

During most of Absalom Jones' life (1746-1818), there existed no church edifice owned or operated exclusively by African Americans anywhere in the country. By the end of Jones' life, however, many black churchgoers could proudly call houses of worship their own.

7/21/15

Though it's now known as the Keystone State, Pennsylvania equally deserved its earlier nickname: the Coal State. Northeastern Pennsylvania at one time contained three-quarters of the world's anthracite deposits.
Beginning in the early 1800s, beleaguered Eastern European laborers flocked to this region. Carpatho-Rusyns (those living along the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains in present-day Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine) quickly became one of the anthracite region's most dominant ethnic groups.

7/14/15

This weekend, people from across the country will gather at Independence Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first "Annual Reminder" picket, the earliest recurring gay-rights demonstration in the United States.

In 1965, 40 buttoned-up protesters politely demanded their full rights as citizens of the United States in front of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, which was then still housed inside the hall.

7/6/15

The Delaware River waterfront has been striking a billowy silhouette. Wafting in the wind are the unfurled sails of 13 tall ships, a voluminous homage to the city's former maritime glory.

Crowning this flotilla holiday is the 145-foot French frigate L'Hermione (air-me-OWN), easily spotted by the tricolor streaming at its stern. The vessel is a replica of the ship responsible for shuttling the debonairly daring Marquis de Lafayette to the United States in 1780.

7/2/15

The Historial Society of Pennsylvania's Memory Stream, appearing each week in Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. 

6/23/15