The Quaker City Blog



Entries by Ed Pettit (41)


Lippard Society planning meeting

Just a reminder, the planning meeting for the George Lippard Society is this Tuesday, Sept 14 at the Library Company of Philadelphia from 5:30-7:00PM. 
So far, we have about a half dozen who can come to this first meeting and help formulate the Society's goals, mission, by-laws, officers, membership dues, etc.  After the meeting, I'll send out an announcement containing the details about how to join and what we're planning for the immediate future. 
If you would like to come and haven't yet responded, you are still welcome to attend.  Just let me know (send me an email).  The more the merrier.
Thanks for your interest in George Lippard and Philadelphia Gothic,
Edward Pettit


There are lots of internet places you can visit to learn more about George Lippard and his works.  You can now follow George and all announcements for the George Lippard Society on Twitter.  George also has a page on Facebook

Years ago I began a Lippard site on which I was going to re-serialize The Quaker City, with annotations.  That project fell by the wayside (although I've always intended to revisit it):

Frontpage of online QC

Lippard's Grave

More photos of Lippard's grave

My 2007 piece on Lippard for the Phila City Paper

The Library Company of Philadelphia's exhibition Philadelphia Gothic has lots of images and info about Lippard as well as a pdf guide for research:

Phila Gothic Lippard

Research Guide

The Literary Gothic has a page on Lippard with links.

The Wikipedia page on Lippard seems well-maintained.

From the Baltimore Society's Edgar Allan Poe site:

Poe's letter to Lippard

Emilio De Grazia, "Poe's Devoted Democrat, George Lippard,"from Poe Studies, vol. VI, no. 1, June 1973, pp. 6-8

Burton R. Pollin, " More on Lippard and Poe," from Poe Studies, vol. VII, no. 1, June 1974, pp. 22-23

Lippard's works online:

Christopher Looby has put online some of Lippard's early pieces from The Spirit of the Times and The Citizen Soldier newspapers: The Early Writings of George Lippard

The Quaker City or the Monks of Monk Hall at the Internet Archive (read online or download pdf)

The Life and Choice Writings of George Lippard(includes a bio by John Bell Bouton)

Internet Archive full list of Lippard's works available online (including, Blanche of Brandywine, Washington and his Generals, Washington and his Men, Legends of Mexico, The Nazarene, New York: its Upper Ten and Lower Million and The Mysteries of Florence)

Open Library has a list of Lippard's works, some of which you can read online. 

Google has many of his works digitized as well (including Paul Ardenheim, the Monk of Wissahikon).

If anyone else knows of any other Lippard resources on the internet, please let me know. 


First Meeting of the Lippard Society

We're going to have an organizational meeting for the George Lippard Society on Tuesday Sept 14 at the Library Company of Philadelphia from 5:30-7:00 PM.  At the meeting we'll discuss the purpose of the society, goals, mission, by-laws, officers, membership dues, etc.  Anyone interested is invited to attend. 
So if you are in the Phila area (or can make it here for the day) and are interested in being involved at the inception of this unique literary organization, please let me know (I'll need a head count). 
And did you know the Library Co has their Philadelphia Gothic exhibition online (including podcasts)?  You can check it out here. 
I would also like to have an event, maybe a mini-conference, in the Spring.  Possibly March or maybe in April (for Lippard's birthday) with a visit to his gravesite.  So, we'll also be starting a committee to plan that event, as well. 
If you'd like to come to the organizational meeting on Sept 14, drop me an email.  If you'd like to be involved but cannot make it to the meeting, let me know and I'll keep you involved by email. 
After the Sept 14 meeting, I'll be able to give everyone specific information about membership, etc. 
Hope to see you there.

"the Bell speaks to the city and the world"

George Lippard was much more than a gothic sensationalist novelist.  Lippard was also a crusader for issues of social justice.  He founded one of the first labor unions in the country.  He campaigned tirelessly for workers and minorities.  This fervor for the common citizen was probably born of his deep commitment to the ideals of the founding fathers of America.  George Lippard was a patriot of the highest order.  Even the ruling officers of The Brotherhood of America, the secret benevolent organization he founded, used the titles Supreme Washington, Supreme Jefferson and Supreme Franklin (Lippard, of course, was the Supreme Washington). 

Lippard desperately wanted to carry on the best intentions of the men who declared America's independence from England.  He also understood that America was a young country and did not have a mythological past that stretched into the mists of a distant past.  So he invented the myths of America.  In newspaper pieces and then in books, Lippard recounted the legendary exploits of America's early leaders: The Battle-Day of Germantown (1843), Herbert Tracy; or, The Legend of the Black Rangers. A Romance of the Battle-field of Germantown (1844), Blanche of Brandywine (1846), The Rose of Wissahikon; or, The Fourth of July, 1776. A Romance, Embracing the Secret History of the Declaration of Independence (1847). 

Most significant was his Washington and His Generals; or, Legends of the Revolution (1847).  So powerful were some of the stories in this book that some Americans still perpetuate them.  Just a couple months ago there was a piece by Mitch Horowitz on a Washington Post blog about Ronald Reagan's use of one of Lippard's legends.  And who as a kid didn't know the story of the Liberty Bell (hey, I grew up in Philly, so I certainly did)?  The declaration read out loud to the public on the Fourth of July, the bell ringing out its peals of freedom.   Lippard's legend "The Fourth of July, 1776" first published in the Saturday Courier on Jan 2, 1847, then reprinted in Wash and His Gens, has lasted more than a century in the popular imagination.  It has truly become one of the legends of America.  It's a little too long to be posted here.  So you can read an abridged version here.  But the whole piece is available at Google Books along with the rest of Wash and His Gens.

Do you see that old man's eye fire? Do you see that arm so suddenlv bared to the shoulder, do you see that withered hand, grasping the Iron Tongue of the Bell? The old man is young again; his veins are filled with new life. Backward and forward, with sturdy strokes, he swings the Tongue. The bell speaks out! The crowd in the street hear it, and burst forth in one long shout! Old Delaware hears it, and gives it back in the hurrah of her thousand sailors. The city hears it, and starts up from desk and work-bench, as though an earthquake had spoken.

Yet still while the sweat pours from his brow, that old Bell-keeper hurls the iron tongue, and still — boom — boom — boom — the Bell speaks to the city and to the world.

Have a happy Lippardian Fourth of July!


The George Lippard Society

It's time for George Lippard to finally get his due.  For too long, Lippard has been a footnote in American literary history.  So, I am proud to announce a new organization dedicated to Philadelphia's 19th Century bad-boy novelist.

The George Lippard Literary Society

Our mission will be to popularize one of America's most important literary figures, as well as the literary movement in which he prospered, Philadelphia Gothic.  Lippard was a significant novelist, labor organizer, publisher and popular historian.  His novel The Quaker City or the Monks of Monk Hallwas one of the biggest-selling novels of the 19th century and paved the way for the sensationalist muckraker novels to follow.  Lippard also made his mark as a crusader for the rights of workers, women and minority groups, founding one of the first labor unions in the country.  As well as writing novels, Lippard also made major contributions to the mythology of America in his popular histories (including the myth of the Liberty Bell ringing out on July 4th). 

As an organization, we'll meet several times a year to discuss Lippard's life and works and to share research on other figures of the Philadelphia Gothic literary movement, including its founder, Charles Brockden Brown, its most famous practitioner, Edgar Allan Poe, and lesser known authors like Robert Montgomery Bird and Frank Webb. 

The GLS will also organize a mini-conference once a year.

I'm now accepting all queries for information and membership.  Email me at

Keep your eye on the Quaker City blog for more information to follow in the next few days.

For more info on George Lippard, see my piece from the Philadelphia City Paper, "Monks, Devils and Quakers," or my George Lippard pages at the old Omnigatherum site.  Also check out the Philadelphia Library Company's Philadelphia Gothic online exhibit, including podcasts from Christopher Looby and myself (click here and scroll down for the podcasts).

For further reading, two newly published books feature many aspects of the time period:

Wicked Philadelphia: Sin in the City of Brotherly Love by Thomas H Keels

Philadelphia Stories: America's Literature of Race and Freedom by Samuel Otter


Wicked Philadelphia on the radio

Tom Keels will be the guest on WHYY's Radio Times tomorrow morning (Thu July 1) at 11AM.  Keels' new book, Wicked Philadelphia: Sin in the City of Brotherly Love was just released a couple months ago and features a chapter on Singleton Mercer's murder of Mahlon Heberton, the case which inspired George Lippard to write The Quaker City

In January, Keels did a piece for WRTI radio about that murder and Lippard's novel, in which I was happy to participate.  You can listen to that show here (the Lippard part begins at the 14:30 mark).

And check out Radio Times tomorrow morning.


Wissahickon Tour

Another tour of the George Lippard's Wissahickon has been scheduled for Sun June 20.  Local guide Nicholas Bucci is meeting people at the Johannes Kelpius historical marker at 1PM on Henry Ave and Hermit Lane.  We tried to do this a couple years ago, but couldn't work it out. 

Now this year, it's scheduled for Father's Day, so I'm not sure if I can make it yet again, but I'll know closer to the date.  Feel free to join us.  You can email me for further details or just show up. 

William Thompson Russell Smith (1812-1896), A Scene on the Wissahickon, 1842


RIP George Lippard

Today is the death day of George Lippard.  I have a post with all sorts of Lippardian goodies on my Ed & Edgar blog. 


Lippard like Shakespeare

Just came across this little passage in The Shirley Letters from California Mines in 1851-52:

Among other oddities, there is a person here who is a rabi admirer of Lippard.  I have heard him gravely affirm that Lippard was the greatest author the world ever saw, and that if one of his novels and the most fascinating work of ancient or modern times lay side by side, he would choose the former, even though he had already repeatedly perused it.  He studies Lippard just like other folks do Shakespeare, and yet the man has read and admires the majestic prose of Chilton, and is quite familiar with the best English Classics.

Gratifying to find myself described over a hundred years before my birth.


Edgar, George and the Wissahickon

That tour of the Wissahickon, the area beloved of both George Lippard and Edgar Allan Poe, will happen this Sunday, June 22 at 4PM.  Nick Bucci will lead a group of us on a hike through the Philadelphia Wilderness.  We'll see Kelpius' Cave and visit the rock where Lippard was married (see previous post).  If you are free, you are welcome to join us.  We're meeting at 4Pm at the Kelpius Historical marker located on Hermit Lane off Henry Ave.  Parking is available there.  Wear good hiking shoes.  The trail can be rough in places. 

Hope to see you.


George and Rose

I've been learning many wonderful things while reasearching Edgar Allan Poe, George Lippard and Philadelphia circa 1840. But today was a real treat at the Library Company. They have two personal Bibles from Lippard, one a small (12mo) English Bible printed by Thomas Cowperthwait (Phila, 1843) and another large (27 cm) Pictorial Bible. Both were donations from Lippard's Brotherhood of the Union, which finally disbanded in the mid-1990s. The small Bible was a gift from George to his future wife Rose Newman. In it he wrote a poem for his future wife (they would marry in 1847). It reads:

This Book containing the words of
The “Unfadeing, eternal and all-mighty”
                                                         Is given—
To Rose
January 1st, 1844—
From G.L.
The stream may cease to flow, the sun may cease
                                                                   to shine,
The air may lose its life, all things of life
                                                                       their breath,
But maiden I am thine, and maiden thou
                                                                art mine,
Mine in life on life, mine in despair or
Mine by the wanes of fate that onward round
                                                           me roll,
Mine in life, and mine in death; the Vow
                                                                  is on my soul.



That's very exciting to find-- personal verse written to his beloved.

The Pictorial Bible finally solved the question of the date of the Lippards' marriage, as well as some of it's details. One of the pages serves as their marriage certificate:

Philada: — Saturday May 15th, 1847——
I hereby certify that I have this day joined
In marriage, according to the laws of this
State, George Lippard and Rose Newman,
Both of the County of Philadelphia, State of
C Chauncey Burr


There is also a Parents' Register in the family pages of the Bible:

FATHER George Lippard, born April
Tenth, (10) A.D. 1822—
Son of Daniel B. and Jemima
MOTHER Rose Lippard, (daughter of
John and Catherine Newman,
Born, January ninth 1825.)
             Married on the Wissahikon,
May 15. 1847. by Rev. C. Chauncey
Burr, in the presence of Harriet N. Lippard


a Marriages page:

On the Fifteenth of May, 1847—
George Lippard and Rose Newman
were married, by Rev. C. Chauncey Burr,
and in the presence of Harriet N. Lippard.
The marriage took place on the Rock
Of Wissahikon, at sunset.——


March Thirty first, A.D. 1848, a
Daughter born, named Mima.
(4 o’clock and five minutes, P.M.)
Tuesday, June 11th 1850, at
12 1/2 o’clock, mid-day, a son
born named Paul Newman Lippard


and Deaths

On Friday morning, December
29th. 1848, at 8 1/2 o’clock,
Harriet N. Lippard.
On Tuesday morning, October
23rd. 1849, at 3 o’clock,
Mima Lippard, daughter
Of George and Rose Lippard.
On Saturday morning March 1st 1851
Paul N. Lippard, son of George and Rose
On Wednesday morning, May 21st 1851
Rose Newman Lippard, wife of
George Lippard.


Someone even recorded the author's death:

On Thursday morning at 4 oclock Febr 9th 1854
George Lippard


And I love this: pasted into the book was a strip of paper recording Lippard's promise of marriage:

On the 6th of Ecember 1842 it was resolved by G Lippard and R. Newman that 10 years from that day they would wed                        R. Newman


So we now know the date of the Lippards' marriage, May 15, and that it was at sunset on "the Rock" of the Wissahickon.  But the personal details are also very touching, especially the early deaths of both children and parents and the youthful promise of love in that promise to wed. 



Lippard talk!  Tomorrow!  See previous post! 


Poe and Lippard

878004-1537227-thumbnail.jpgCan it get any better than Edgar Allan Poe and George Lippard? Together?  In PoeSeated.jpgPhilly?

Well then, come on down to the Philly Poe House at 7th and Spring Garden Sts in the Athens of America on Saturday, May 10, 2PM. I'll be talking about that way cool gothic novelist, journalist, labor reformer, historian, Philadelphian and friend of Poe, the mighty George Lippard!

The event is free, but reservations are recommended. Just call the Poe House at (215)597-8780 to reserve a spot. 


George and the Wissahickon

Since I've been able to do some Lippardian research lately (gearing up for my May 10 talk about him at the Philly Poe House), I thoguht it would be fun to start posting here again.  Still not sure when I'll get back to posting chapters from The Quaker City, but in the meantime, I'll share some of my Lippard discoveries here.

My Poe speech at the Roxborough Manayunk Wissahickon Historical Society was especially fun 878004-1522324-thumbnail.jpg
Kelpius, Historical Soc of PA
for me because George Lippard was, along with his friend, Edgar Allan Poe, a devotee of the famous Wissahickon Creek.  While Poe found the area sublimely enchanting, Lippard was more attuned with its mystical history as the home of Johannes Kelpius and his fellow monks who lived in the caves along the creek in the late 17th - early 18th centuries (the painting of Kelpius to the right is reputed to be the first oil painting done in America).  Lippard used the Wissahickon as a setting in several of his works, including the Revolutionary War legend, The Rose of Wissahikon and Paul Ardenheim, the Monk of Wissahikon

While visiting Philadelphia, Mark Twain wrote to his brother: "Geo. Lippard, in his 'Legends of Washington and his Generals,' has rendered the Wissahickon sacred in my eyes."

There are several accounts of Lippard's marriage ceremony to Rose Newman on a rock overlooking the gorge by moonlight.  Some accounts say the bride and groom were dressed in Indian apparel, but I don't know if this is legend or not, although it suits Lippard well, the creator of so many historical legends, to have such a legend spring up about himself.  I've even read the date of the marriage was May 14, 1847, but I'm not sure of the source.  Nevertheless, I'm hoping to make the tour of the Wissahickon creek soon and, with the help of Wissahickon afficianado, Nick Bucci, see some of the sites so sacred to both Poe and Lippard.  Perhaps we can make a group outing of this.  Let me know in the comments here if you're interested in joining me.


Be Back Later

Yes, yes, I said "be back soon" in October, but have not yet returned.  Look for the restart of The Quaker City serialization early this year.