Sunday, October 4, 2015

Corbett unveils portrait of PA's "first woman governor"

Pennsylvania's "first woman governor" will soon get her rightful place on the wall of governors' portraits in the Capitol.

Corbett unveils portrait of PA's "first woman governor"



Pennsylvania's "first woman governor" will soon get her rightful place in the Capitol.

Until now, Hannah Callowhill Penn was barely even recognized for her role in Pennsylvania history, Now the second wife of William Penn, who played a critical role in establishing the Pennsylvania colony after her husband was incapacitated by a stroke, is getting her due. 

Gov. Tom Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett today unveiled a portrait of Penn at a ceremony in the governor's reception room in the Capitol.

It marks the first time a portrait of a woman will be displayed among the portraits of Pennsylvania’s founders and former governors.

Hannah Penn governed the Pennsylvania colony for six years after her husband was incapacitated by a stroke in 1712 - most of the time she lived in England..

Only sitting queens of England wielded similar power.

The oil painting, based on the single known drawing of Hannah Penn, is the work of Philadelphia artist Ellen Cooper.

Cooper said Hannah Penn's influential role was a reflection on the Penns Quaker faith.

"They had gender equality," said Cooper, who lives in Media.

Interestingly, Sir William Keith, who served as deputy governor during the period when Hannah governed, has had his portrait hanging in the governor’s office since the Capitol was dedicated in 1906.

“Today, we are correcting history by giving Hannah Penn her proper place within the Governor’s Office, she deserves this honor.” said Gov. Corbett. “Now our daughters and granddaughters will know about Hannah Penn’s legacy and that women were leading the way and making a difference at a time in history when women lacked full rights.”

Hannah Penn's portrait now joins the one of her husband, Ben Franklin and every governor up to Mark Schweiker whose term ended in 2002.

For two years First Lady Susan Corbett led a team looking at Hannah Penn's legacy and pushed to have her recognized in the Capitol and in educational programs at the Penn homestead, Pennsbury Manor, in Bucks County and beyond.


Hannah Penn’s portrait, which was paid for by private dollars, will be on display for the public in the governor’s reception room through the spring.










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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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