Is the “Public Good” a Quaint Notion?

Constitution Day - A Reflection on its Anniversary September 17, 2016, marks the two hundred and twenty-ninth anniversary of the final day of the U.S. Constitutional Convention—the day a miracle occurred on Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street and a gathering of men set...

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18th-Century Style Shrub

18th-Century Style Shrub 4th July by Linda Lee Graham This 4th of July, party like a colonial. Drink shrub! Shrub? It's a blend of fruit, sugar, and vinegar, and it was a colonial favorite. It’s thought the word derives from the Arabic word meaning “drink.” Granted,...

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Popular Pastime of the Past – Ice Skating

Ice skating was a popular pastime for Philadelphians in the 18th century. The easily accessible Delaware River often froze, as did the Schuylkill. And even if the rivers didn't, the neighborhood ponds invariably iced over. Early accounts claim the Delaware River was...

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Is He “Clapt or Poxed”?

Interpreting an eighteenth century reference to the pox can be confusing. There are a number of infections referred to as poxes, and all result in pockmarks that scar the victim. However, if the context hints at some sort of “sinful” activity, it is probably safe to...

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Seven Steps to Folding Your Own Condom

An Eighteenth-Century Armour Known as redingotes d’Anglaise (English raincoats) by the French, and baudruches (French letters), armour, sheaths, and machines by the English, condoms were a booming trade in eighteenth-century London. No matter the dire warnings from...

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Crossing the Atlantic

I booked airline tickets to Glasgow recently, from the comfort of my office chair, with the convenience of my charge card.  No sooner had I clicked the 'book it' button, did I begin to dread the thought of the inconvenient delays at the airport, the long security...

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The Industry

The cast of characters in Voices Beckon crossed the Atlantic in the winter of 1783-4, on a ship named the Industry. The ship itself was real enough. She sailed out of Bristol, England on November 7, 1783, destined for Philadelphia. She was a brig: a two-masted,...

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Man Full of Trouble Tavern

by Linda Lee Graham The Man Full of Trouble Tavern is the only pre-Revolutionary tavern surviving in Philadelphia today. The Neighborhood Built in 1759 on the banks of the swampy, mosquito-infested Dock Creek, the Man Full of Trouble was a humble establishment. It...

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David Graham

Voices Beckon begins with David Graham sailing to America in the winter of 1783. While I do know he served a six year apprenticeship for the Philadelphia firm Hall & Sellers beginning in 1784, I don’t know if he was a current resident of America at the time, or if...

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