Monday, August 22, 2005

Mark Twain Sees Philadelphia in 1853

Mark Twain Sees Philadelphia in 1853

On his first visit to Philadelphia, Mark Twain was a very young man.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


IAuctions n 1853, a very young Mark Twain made his first visit to Philadelphia. His comments follow:

"The old State House in Chestnut Street, is an object of great interest to the stranger; and though it has often been repaired, the old model and appearance are still preserved. It is a substantial brick edifice, and its original cost was L5,600 ($28,000). In the east room of the first story the mighty Declaration of Independence was passed by Congress, July 4th, 1776.

<auctions> "When a stranger enters this room for the first time, an unaccountable feeling of awe and reverence comes over him, and every memento of the past his eye rests upon whispers that he is treading upon sacred ground. Yes, everything in that old hall reminds him that he stands where mighty men have stood; he gazes around him, almost expecting to see a Franklin or an Adams rise before him. In this room is to be seen the old "Independence Bell", which called the people together to hear the Declaration read, and also a rude bench, on which Washington, Franklin, and Bishop White


"It is hard to get tired of Philadelphia<auctions> , for amusements are not scarce. We have what is called a 'free-and-easy,' at the saloons on Saturday nights. At a free-and easy, a chairman is appointed, who calls on any of the assembled company for a song or a recitation, and as there are plenty of singers and spouters, one may laugh himself to fits at a very small expense. Ole Bull, Jullien, and Sontag have flourished and gone, and left the two fat women, one weighing 764, and the other 769 pounds, to "astonish the natives." I stepped in to see one of these the other evening, and was disappointed. She is a pretty extensive piece of meat, but not much to brag about; however, I suppose she would bring a fair price in the Cannibal Islands. She is a married woman! If I were her husband, I think I could yield with becoming fortitude to the dispensations of Providence, if He, in his infinite goodness, should see fit to take her away! With this human being of the elephant species, there is also a "Swiss Warbler"--bah! I earnestly hope he may live to see his native land for the first time."

Keywords: Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens, Philadelphia Circus, Ole Bull, Pennsylvania Statehouse, pre-Civil War Philadelphia

Franklin's Public Pledge to Braddock

Chapter XVI, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:

The pacifist Quaker legislature was paralyzed with indecision when General Braddock brought troops from England to defend the western frontier, but lacked horses and wagons. Franklin risked debtors prison by personally pledging to repay local farmers whose wagons were soon lost at Fort Duquesne.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Ihappened to say I thought it was a pity they had not been landed rather in Pennsylvania, as in that country almost every farmer had his waggon. The general eagerly laid hold of my words, and said, "Then you, sir, who are a man of interest there, can probably procure them for us; and I beg you will undertake it." I ask'd what terms were to be offer'd the owners of the waggons; and I was desir'd to put on paper the terms that appeared to me necessary. This I did, and they were agreed to, and a commission and instructions accordingly prepar'd immediately. What those terms were will appear in the advertisement I publish'd as soon as I arriv'd at Lancaster, which being, from the great and sudden effect it produc'd, a piece of some curiosity, I shall insert it at length, as follows:



"ADVERTISEMENT.
"LANCASTER, April 26, 1755.



"Whereas, one hundred and fifty waggons, with four horses to each waggon, and fifteen hundred saddle or pack horses, are wanted for the service of his majesty's forces now about to rendezvous at Will's Creek, and his excellency General Braddock having been pleased to empower me to contract for the hire of the same, I hereby give notice that I shall attend for that purpose at Lancaster from this day to next Wednesday evening, and at York from next Thursday morning till Friday evening, where I shall be ready to agree for waggons and teams, or single horses, on the following terms, viz.: I. That there shall be paid for each waggon, with four good horses and a driver, fifteen shillings per diem; and for each able horse with a pack-saddle, or other saddle and furniture, two shillings per diem; and for each able horse without a saddle, eighteen pence per diem. 2. That the pay commence from the time of their joining the forces at Will's Creek, which must be on or before the 20th of May ensuing, and that a reasonable allowance be paid over and above for the time necessary for their travelling to Will's Creek and home again after their discharge. 3. Each waggon and team, and every saddle or pack horse, is to be valued by indifferent persons chosen between me and the owner; and in case of the loss of any waggon, team, or other horse in the service, the price according to such valuation is to be allowed and paid. 4. Seven days' pay is to be advanced and paid in hand by me to the owner of each waggon and team, or horse, at the time of contracting, if required, and the remainder to be paid by General Braddock, or by the paymaster of the army, at the time of their discharge, or from time to time, as it shall be demanded. 5. No drivers of waggons, or persons taking care of the hired horses, are on any account to be called upon to do the duty of soldiers, or be otherwise employed than in conducting or taking care of their carriages or horses. 6. All oats, Indian corn, or other forage that waggons or horses bring to the camp, more than is necessary for the subsistence of the horses, is to be taken for the use of the army, and a reasonable price paid for the same.

"Note.--My son, William Franklin, is empowered to enter into like contracts with any person in Cumberland county. "B. FRANKLIN."

-------------------------------------------

To the inhabitants of the Counties of Lancaster, York and Cumberland.

"Friends and Countrymen,

"Being occasionally at the camp at Frederic a few days since, I found the general and officers extremely exasperated on account of their not being supplied with horses and carriages, which had been expected from this province, as most able to furnish them; but, through the dissensions between our governor and Assembly, money had not been provided, nor any steps taken for that purpose.

"It was proposed to send an armed force immediately into these counties, to seize as many of the best carriages and horses as should be wanted, and compel as many persons into the service as would be necessary to drive and take care of them.

"I apprehended that the progress of British soldiers through these counties on such an occasion, especially considering the temper they are in, and their resentment against us, would be attended with many and great inconveniences to the inhabitants, and therefore more willingly took the trouble of trying first what might be done by fair and equitable means. The people of these back counties have lately complained to the Assembly that a sufficient currency was wanting; you have an opportunity of receiving and dividing among you a very considerable sum; for, if the service of this expedition should continue, as it is more than probable it will, for one hundred and twenty days, the hire of these waggons and horses will amount to upward of thirty thousand pounds, which will be paid you in silver and gold of the king's money.

"The service will be light and easy, for the army will scarce march above twelve miles per day, and the waggons and baggage-horses, as they carry those things that are absolutely necessary to the welfare of the army, must march with the army, and no faster; and are, for the army's sake, always placed where they can be most secure, whether in a march or in a camp.

"If you are really, as I believe you are, good and loyal subjects to his majesty, you may now do a most acceptable service, and make it easy to yourselves; for three or four of such as can not separately spare from the business of their plantations a waggon and four horses and a driver, may do it together, one furnishing the waggon, another one or two horses, and another the driver, and divide the pay proportionately between you; but if you do not this service to your king and country voluntarily, when such good pay and reasonable terms are offered to you, your loyalty will be strongly suspected. The king's business must be done; so many brave troops, come so far for your defense, must not stand idle through your backwardness to do what may be reasonably expected from you; waggons and horses must be had; violent measures will probably be used, and you will be left to seek for a recompense where you can find it, and your case, perhaps, be little pitied or regarded.

"I have no particular interest in this affair, as, except the satisfaction of endeavoring to do good, I shall have only my labour for my pains. If this method of obtaining the waggons and horses is not likely to succeed, I am obliged to send word to the general in fourteen days; and I suppose Sir John St. Clair, the hussar, with a body of soldiers, will immediately enter the province for the purpose, which I shall be sorry to hear, because I am very sincerely and truly your friend and well-wisher, B. FRANKLIN."


-------------------------------------



Ireceived of the general about eight hundred pounds, to be disbursed in advance-money to the waggon owners, etc.; but, that sum being insufficient, I advanc'd upward of two hundred pounds more, and in two weeks the one hundred and fifty waggons, with two hundred and fifty-nine carrying horses, were on their march for the camp. The advertisement promised payment according to the valuation, in case any waggon or horse should be lost. The owners, however, alleging they did not know General Braddock, or what dependence might be had on his promise, insisted on my bond for the performance, which I accordingly gave them.


--Chapter XVI, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin



Thursday, April 28, 2005

Life On The River (3)

Life on the River (3)

Until just a few decades ago, Philadelphia life was life along the river, with the gentry building houses upriver from the port. They were surrounded by abundant fishing, hunting, and all the sports of horsemanship.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All over Europe the scene is repeated: a market town and seaport at the mouth of a river, with many miles of old castles overlooking the banks of the river in the hinterland. The seaports had to be protected against pirates, the hinterland against marauding brigands. But the flow of commerce was that the baronies upriver fed the seaport, and the seaports carried on trade with other river-organized economies. From time to time, someone like Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Bismarck or Hitler would try to unify the various river economies, usually unsuccessfully. In fact, the same pattern was seen along thePacific Coast of South America, until the Incas figured out how to go along the mountain ridge in the far interior, and then come down the rivers from the sparsely populated areas to the maritime settlements at the mouth of the river, whose defenses were planned for enemies from the sea. Philadelphia followed the standard commercial pattern, but without fortresses and castles.

Because of the vagaries King Charles II, and underneath that, because of marshes and their mosquito-borne diseases, the Delaware Bay was settled fairly late in colonial times -- and entirely Quaker. The Dutch were interested in trade rather than settlement, the Dutch were too few, their sovereign too indifferent, and William Penn took care of the Indians. So the English settlers had no one to fight except other Englishmen, once the French stab at Inca strategy was put down in 1753. After 1783, or perhaps 1812, the world left us alone. The Delaware Bay and River are essentially free of fortresses, Philadelphia has no castles. The peaceful sixty miles of upper Delaware Bay became lined with big farmhouses, or big Federalist and Victorian mansions. For a century, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, and even for a time after that, the history of this peaceful pond reads like a novel by Jane Austen.

<auctions>As a playground for menfolk, it would be hard to improve on Victorian Delaware Bay. The river was full of fish, notably shad. In the fall, the migrating ducks and geese made for marvelous hunting. In the countryside behind the riverfront houses were all the sports having to do with horses; fox hunting, racing, horses shows. The kids could putter around in small sailboats, the adult sailors could sail a yacht to Europe if they wanted to. After John Fitch invented the Steamboat, it was possible to take a daily commute to the best male game of all -- trading, investing and gambling in the financial and commercial center of Philadelphia.


Marion Willis Rivinus and Katherine Hansell Biddle wrote a little book in 1973 called Lights Along the Delaware which tells the river story from the female point of view. The woman of the house was sort of the mayor of a little city, organizing the staff, supervising the garden, educating the children, planning the household, and organizing the dinners and social events. Educated and trained to the role, she knew what to do and enjoyed doing it. Jane Austen wrote the handbook. And while the menfolk were essential members of the cast, women were the managing directors. The men were off with their horses, or sailboats, or fishing rods, or their faraway big-deal mergers and acquisitions. True, it was not a notably intellectual community, there were no Edith Whartons, Abigail Adams or Emily Dickinson. You might find some of that in Germantown, perhaps. The professions, law and medicine, lured the more studious members away from Society, but the international diplomatic circle was seen as appropriate goal for any truly graceful and accomplished graduates of this environment.

As the riverbank was gradually destroyed by railroads and expressways, only a few mansions like Andalusia remain in good repair. Curiously, what endures best are the clubs. The fishing club variously called the Fish House, the Castle, the Colony in Schuylkill, or the Schuylkill Fishing Company of the State in Schuylkill, has moved as many times as the name has changed. Started in 1732, it is the oldest continuously existing men's club in the world. It moved to the Delaware River from the Schuylkill when the Fairmount dam was built, and to its present location at Devon, the estate of William B. Chamberlain in 1937. New members do the cooking, cleaning and serving, older members tell stories. When the river pollution is finally controlled, they may go back to catching the fish as well as cooking them. There's the Philadelphia Gun Club, which before 1890 was the Holiday Shooting Club of Riverton NJ. And then there's the Gloucester (NJ) Fox Hunt, which during the Revolution turned into First Troop, City Cavalry and after escorting George Washington to the battles of Boston Harbor, has been an active fighting unit of the National Guard (most recently in Bosnia) as well as a devoted center of male horsemanship between wars. The Farmer's Club, the Agricultural Society, and the Horticultural Society all reflect the rural interests that once predominated just behind the riverfront estates, nevertheless still thriving after 150 years of suburbia, exurbia and urban revival.

Although the riverfront industrial slums which destroyed the American branch of Jane Austen's gracious living manner are themselves declining and seem about to go away, it would take a real visionary to imagine how the Grand Life on the River will ever return. The banks of the Delaware are much lower than the bank of the Hudson, for example. They make a great place to put high-speed rail lines and even higher speed interstate highways. The patroons of Hyde Park, West Point and Poughkeepsie are much higher up a cliff, and can overlook the river without much noticing an occasional whoosh. The mansions along the Delaware have to look right at the tracks. Except for a few places like Bristol which have been isolated on the river side of the tracks and highway, it's not easy to see how you would get from here to there, or when.

Keywords: Riverbank life, Delaware River, Rivinus, Biddle, duck hunting, horsemanship,



© George Ross Fisher, M.D., 2004

Litchfield County, Extended (1771-1775)

Litchfield County, Extended (1771-1775)

Connecticut occupied Pennsylvania territory for four years, and successfully beat back an attempt to evict them. The impending American Revolution caused the other colonies to put a stop to the fighting.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For four years, the settlers considered the apparently peaceful Wyoming Valley to be part of Litchfield County, Connecticut, and its main little town was called Westmoreland. However, the high-living, non-Quaker sons of William Penn were ill content to let matters remain that way. Their response was to sell large tracts of land in the area, on condition the purchasers could conquer and hold it. The main purchasers were Scotch-Irish from Lancaster County, and the main speculators were prominent Philadelphians with names like Francis, Tilghman, Shippen, Allen, Morris and Biddle. This speculative land sale was to be the source of trouble for decades, because it conflicted with titles to the same land issued by the Susquehanna Company.

The predictable trouble surfaced in 1775, with the Second Pennamite War. Under the command of a man named Plunkett, 700 Pennsylvania soldiers marched to liberate Wyoming, and were soundly defeated by the Connecticut soldiery under the command of Zebulon Butler. There might have been further fighting in this expanded war, except for the other eleven colonies applying great pressure on these two colonies fighting each other with potential jeopardy to the united rebellion against British rule. While the Penn family were definitely royalist in their sympathies, their colonial property put them in an awkward position with their Scotch-Irish allies, who were in all colonies the main leaders in the rebellion. The effect was to isolate the Connecticut invaders, even though they were the victors in the fighting.

Keywords: Litchfield, Wyoming Valley, Westmoreland, Plunkett, Zebulon Butler, Lancaster County, Susquehanna Company,


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Third Pennamite War (1784)

The Third Pennamite War (1784)

Connecticut and Pennsylvania stopped fighting during the Revolution, but then promptly resumed hostilities. The Decision of Trenton gave the prize to Pennsylvania, whose legislature promptly abused the helpless remaining Connecticut settlers.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<auctions>And so, after the Revolution was finally over, there was a third war between Pennsylvanians and the Connecticut born settlers of the Wyoming Valley. This time, the disputes were focused on, not the land grants of King Charles but the 1771 land sales by Penn family, most of which conflicted with land sales to the Connecticut settlers by the Susquehanna Company. The Connecticut settlers felt they had paid for the land in good faith, and had certainly suffered to defend it against the common enemy. The Pennsylvanians were composed of speculators (mostly in Philadelphia) and settlers (mostly Scotch-Irish from Lancaster County). Between them, these two groups easily controlled the votes in the Pennsylvania Assembly, leading to some outrageous political behavior which conferred legal justification on disgraceful vigilante behavior. For example, once the American Revolution was finally over (1783) the Decision of Trenton had given clear control to Pennsylvania, so its Assembly appointed two ruffians named Patterson and Armstrong to be commissioners in the Wyoming Valley. These two promptly gave the settlers six months to leave the land, and using a slight show of resistance as sufficient pretext, burned the buildings and scattered the inhabitants, killing a number of them. One of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation was thus promptly demonstrated, as well as the ensuing importance of a little-understood provision of the new (1787) Constitution . No state may now interfere in the provisions of private contracts. Those with nostalgia for states rights must overcome a heavy burden of history about what state legislatures were capable of doing in this and similar matters, in the days before the federal government was empowered to stop it.


<auctions>A flood soon wiped out most of the landmarks in the Wyoming Valley, and it had to be resurveyed. Patterson, whose official letters to the Assembly denounced the Connecticut settlers as banditti, perjurers, ruffians, and a despicable herd, boasted that he had restored, to what he called his constituents, "the chief part of all the lands". The scattered settlers nevertheless began to trickle back to the Valley, and Patterson had several of them whipped with ramrods. As the settlers became more numerous, Armstrong marched a small army up from Lancaster. He pledged to the settlers on his honor as a gentleman that if both sides disarmed, he would restore order. As soon as the Connecticut group had surrendered their weapons, they were imprisoned; Patterson's soldiers were not disarmed at all, and assisted the process of marching the Connecticut settlers, chained together, to prison in Easton and Sunbury. To its everlasting credit, the decent element of Pennsylvania were incensed by this disgraceful behavior; the prisoners somehow mysteriously were allowed to escape, and the Assembly was cowed by the general outrage into recalling Patterson and Armstrong. Finally, the indignation spread to New York and Massachusetts, where a strong movement developed to carve out a new state in Pennsylvania's Northeast, to put a stop to dissention which threatened the unity of the whole nation. That was a credible threat, and the Pennsylvania Assemby appeared to back down, giving titles to the settlers in what was called the "Confirmimg Act of 1787". Unfortunately, in what has since become almost a tradition in the Pennsylvania legislature, the law was intentionally unconstitutional. Among other things, it gave some settlers land in compensation that belonged to other settlers, violating the provision in the new Constitution against "private takings", once again displaying the superiority of the Constitution over the Articles of Confederation. It is quite clear that the legislators knew very well that after a protracted period of litigation, the courts would eventually strike this provision down, so it was safe to offer it as a compromise and take credit for being reasonable.


It is useful to remember that the Pennsylvania legislature and the Founding Fathers were meeting in the same building at 6th and Chestnut Streets, sometimes at the same moment. Books really need to be written to dramatize the contrast between the motivations and behavior of the sly, duplicious Assembly, and the other group of men living in nearby rooming houses who had pledged their lives and sacred honor to establish and preserve democracy. To remember this curious contrast is to help understand Benjamin Franklin's disdainful remarks about parliaments and legislatures in general, not merely this one of which he had once been Majority Leader. The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention were kept secret, allowing Franklin the latitude to point out the serious weaknesses of real-life parliamentary process, and supplying hideous examples, just next door, of what he was talking about.

Keywords: Decision of Trenton,Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Constitutional protections, sanctity of contracts, private takings, Patterson, Armstrong,


The Proprietorships of William Penn


The Proprietorships of William Penn

William Penn owned Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware; he was the proprietor. Although the Revolutionary War mostly ended that, the proprietorship still owns all unclaimed land in New Jersey.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<auctions>
William Penn became interested in the Colonies when he acquired New Jersey as an investor, mainly concerned with selling real estate. When he later received Pennsylvania and Delaware from the King of England ( Charles II,the Stuart King) restored with the help of his Admiral father), he owned them and ruled them outright. But by then his main future intention was to found a refuge for Quakers and other religious dissenters, so he became the real estate Prioprietor, after merely satisfying himself about the government and other arrangements in a general way. At least half the original 13 colonies were proprietorships, but the terms of their grants had a lot of variation. Penn's intention for the proprietorship was to sell off as much of the property as possible, sort of benignly watching the process unfold in the parts he had sold. There were two unforeseen flaws in the idea; the first was that his sons and heirs would revert to the Anglican faith and have little interest in his holy experiment except for the revenue it would return. The second flaw was to fail to see that religious toleration might lead to the Quakers becoming outnumbered in their own refuge. Eventually, there does come a time in the real estate sell-off process when you have sold more than you retain. At that point, it is no longer yours.


In land value, although perhaps not in land area, that point had been reached by the middle of the eighteenth century, and it led to a famous battle between the Penn descendants and <auctions>Benjamin Franklin. The Penn family saw no reason to pay taxes to the new buyers on the land they hadn't yet sold, or obey laws created by the people to whom they had sold land. Franklin took the part of the settlers and immigrants, who resented paying taxes and fighting Indians on behalf of someone who still owned vast stretches of land within the colony. Both sides had a certain amount of justice in their positions, both sides appealed to the King. The Penns knew the King better, so Franklin lost. That was mostly what Franklin was doing in London in the years before the Revolution, and eventually it took the Revolutionary war to resolve the issue. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania did resolve the issue with fairness and generosity. To quote Sydney G. Fisher, writing in The Quaker Colonies, "When the people could have confiscated everything in Pennsylvania belonging to the proprietary family, they not only left them in possession of a large part of their land, but paid them handsomely for the part that was taken." The matter is generally considered to have been finally settled by the Confirming Act of 1787.


In New Jersey, on the other hand, the proprietorship still exists. The land between the North River (Hudson) and the South River (Delaware) was divided into two proprietorships by a line drawn between the waterfalls at Trenton and Egg Harbor. The southern segment was called the Proprietorship of West Jersey and retained a more strongly Quaker character than the Proprietorship of East Jersey, a fact that might well have led the two segments to take opposite sides of the 1860 Civil War except that it was the northern half that sympathized with slavery and the Southern confederacy, while the Proprietorship of West Jersey was mostly where the anti-slavery movement began, with a Quaker named John Woolman. The issue of taxing and legislating the unsold land of the Proprietorship was not a source of controversy in New Jersey at the time of the Revolution, but it hadn't been forgotten, either. A couple of the stockholders of the proprietorship were members of the Constitutional Convention. When the time came that the other delegates urgently needed New Jersey's vote to ratify the new constitution, the problem was "explained" to the other states. The outcome was that the proprietorship tacitly agreed to be taxed and regulated like any other property, but the ownership rights were tacitly respected as persisting under the new Constitution. So even today, when the ocean creates a new strip of beach, or a farmer abandons some land on the other side of a turnpike, it belongs to the Proprietorship. It belongs to a little group of stockholders who meet once a year in Burlington or Salem, under a tree, and who actually pay themselves annual dividends.

In Delaware, things are a little fuzzier. Delaware was once part of Pennsylvania, as the lower three counties. John Dickinson was once Governor of both states, but they have had two legislatures since 1700. The last time the proprietorship matter came up, so far as real estate lawyers can remember, was in the sandy beaches of Cape Henlopen; things were smoothed out by making the disputed land into a state park.

Keywords: William Penn, Proprietorship of West Jersey, Proprietorship of East Jersey, Proprietorship of Pennsylvania, Proprietorship of Delaware,

The Life and Death of Cities

The Life and Death of Cities

Author Jane Jacobs makes an attractive case against globalization, but she's probably wrong.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------



An elderly lady named Jane Jacobs, born in Scranton and living in Toronto, developed the theory that the root of all economic expansion is the replacement of imported goods with local products. The arresting example she gives is that of Venice, which she feels was the beginning of Western European industrialization, initially as an outgrowth of the Crusaders bringing back ideas from Constantinople. It was dangerous and expensive to import things from Constantinople, so even locally-made shoddy imitations could find a profitable local market. The do-it-yourself idea spread up the Po valley, around the Alps, down the Rhine, and so on. Each area gradually developed a thriving local industry of manufactures which were protected in price by the extra costs of importing them from more traditional centers. You become prosperous by becoming self-sufficient, getting rid of imported goods, right? And cities decline when people have too much money, find local manufacture is pollution-prone and too much trouble, and go back to importing goods as members of the rentier class.

But notice that current trends are all the other way. Let us have global free trade, and free the victimized consumer from the high prices which local merchants hope to extract from trade barriers. Lower prices then leave disposable income, which is available for investment, and consequently leads to a prosperous economy. Whatever the destructive local effects in cities, states, or nations, a thriving world economy makes everyone better off, not least because it puts a stop to nationalistic wars. That's the case for globalism, and Jane Jacobs makes the case against it.

If you love your city, it goes hard to think globally. Cities are perhaps better seen as points of equilibrium, like coral reefs and oceanic barrier islands, places where balanced forces of creation and destruction momentarily maintain an urban concentration which will disappear when the overwhelming irresistible forces of the economy change their balances.

Creating a new urban center may be a project too large for concerned citizens in a small town to be able to achieve; exploiting happenstance is what they must pray for. But if you want to maintain an existing city, keep it from decaying, you will shift your focus from subway lines and zoning laws, to giving more thought to the forces which make a city viable. Like crime prevention, education, taxes, and public spirit. If Philadelphia is destined to be destroyed, let it be by creative destruction, which is irresistible, rather than abandonment, which is your own doing.


Keywords: Jane Jacobs, city growth, globalization, Venice, imports, local products,

The Houses in the Park

The Houses in the Park

William Penn intended his city to stretch from river to river, with the gentry living in mansions along the Schuylkill. Briefly it was so; the mansions are on display in Fairmount Park.




----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<auctions>Fairmount Park is said to be the largest park (7000+ acres) within the limits of an American city, and in fact may be just a little bigger than the city can afford to maintain. It was established in the middle of the 19th Century by the efforts of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia as an attempt to prevent the industrial revolution from polluting Philadelphia's Schuylkill River and the water works . It has long constituted a symbolic interval between center city and the suburbs. Since the construction of the river drives and later the expressway, the commute along the river amidst trees and parkland has made entrance to town a pleasant experience. If the town planners had been able to foresee automobile commuting, they might have anticipated that the sun would be in the driver's eyes coming East during morning rush hour, and in his eyes as he went home toward the West in the evening. Driving safety might thus have been impaired by the tendency of this glare to direct attention to the park rather than straight ahead, but nevertheless redoubles the effect of the park views as a daily aesthetic experience. Even the pollution idea had its ambiguous side, since animals increase the bacterial runoff from their grazing areas, and the original houses in the park had many pastures. Whatever the effect downstream, the high ground had less malaria and less typhoid than swampy lowlands, so many of the original houses were useful summer retreats for city dwellers.

The park is governed by the Park Commission, and at one time had its own police force, the fourth largest police force in the state. Started in 1868, the Park Guards changed their name to the Park Police and then became part of the Philadelphia Police in 1972. The original 28 officers had grown to 525, had their own police academy and a proud tradition. It seems very likely that some deep and dirty politics were played in this shift of authority, and it might be a fair guess that some bitterness still survives in the circles who know and care about these things. Our present concern, however, is with the houses in the park.

There are seven of them, kept up and maintained by the <auctions>Philadelphia Museum of Art. Guided tours are provided by the museum, but since funds are limited only three of the houses are open year round. The others are equally worth a visit, but unfortunately are closed during the height of the spring flowering season. Two of the year round houses represent the two extremes of Philadelphia culture, since Mount Pleasant was owned by a buccaneer ("privateer") named McPherson who lived at the height of 18th Century elegance, while Cedar Grove was originally a Quaker farmhouse of the greatest simplicity consistent with honest comfort, a style which persisted relatively unchanged until late in the 19th Century. Benedict Arnold and Peggy Shippen looked at Mount Pleasant with an eye to purchase, but never lived there because they were called away by national events. With the addition of modern plumbing and air conditioning, Mount Pleasant would be an elegant place to live, even today. McPherson had to sell the place to pay his debts, whereas the Wister and Morris decendants of Cedar Grove still populate the Social Register in large numbers. The two houses completely typify the underlying philosophies of the two leading Philadelphia classes of leadership. One group measures itself by how much it spends, the other group measures itself by how much it has left.



Keywords: Fairmount Park mansions, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, Cedar Grove, Philadelphia Water Works,McPherson, Wister, Morris, Benedict Arnold, Peggy Shippen,

The Franklin Inn

The Franklin Inn

Philadelphia's literary club is hidden away in the theater district, on a street paved with wooden blocks.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Camac Street is a little alley running parallel to 12th and 13th Streets, and in their day the little houses there have had some pretty colorful occupants. The three blocks between Walnut and Pine Streets became known as the street of clubs, although during Prohibition they had related activities, and before that housed other adventuresome occupations. In a sense, this section of Camac Street is in the heart of the theater district, with the Forrest and Walnut Theaters around the corner on Walnut Street, and several other theaters plus the Academy of Music nearby on Broad Street. On the corner of Camac and Locust was once the Princeton Club, now an elegant French Restaurant, and just across Locust Street from it was once the Celebrity Club. The Celebrity club was once owned by the famous dancer Lillian Reis, about whom much has been written in a circumspect tone, because she once successfully sued the Saturday Evening Post for a million dollars for defaming her good name.


Camac between Locust and Walnut is paved with wooden blocks instead of cobblestones, because horses’ hooves make less noise that way. The unpleasant fact of this usage is that horses tend to wet down the street, and in hot weather you know they have been there. Along this section of narrow street, where you can hardly notice it until you are right in front, is the Franklin Inn. The famous architect William Washburn has inspected the basement and bearing walls, and reports that the present Inn building is really a collection of several -- no more than six -- buildings. Inside, it looks like an 18th Century coffee house; most members would be pleased to hear the remark that it looks like Dr. Samuel Johnson’s famous conversational club in London. The walls are covered with pictures of famous former members, a great many of them cartoon caricatures by other members. There are also hundreds or even thousands of books in glass bookcases. This is a literary society, over a century old, and its membership committee used to require a prospective member to offer one of his books for inspection, and now merely urges donations of books by the author-members. Since almost any Philadelphia writer of any stature was a member of this club, its library represents a collection of just about everything Philadelphia produced during the 20th Century. Ross & Perry, Publishers is currently in the process of bringing out a book containing the entire catalogue produced by David Holmes, bound in Ben Franklin’s personal colors, which happen to be gold and maroon, just like the club tie.

The club was founded by S. Weir Mitchell, who lived and practiced Medicine nearby. Mitchell had a famous feud with Jefferson Medical College two blocks away, and that probably accounts for his writing a rule that books on medical topics were not acceptable offerings from a prospective member of the club. So there.

The club has daily lunch, with argument, at long tables, and weekly roundtable discussions with an invited speaker. Once a month there is an evening speaker at a club dinner, with the rule that the speaker must be a member of the club. Once a year, on Benjamin Franklin’s birthday, the club holds an annual meeting and formal dinner. At that dinner, the custom has been for members to give toasts to three people, all doctors, including Dr. Franklin, Dr.S.Weir Mitchell the founder, and Dr. J. William White who endowed the dinner. Some sample toasts follow:

A Toast to Doctor Franklin

Benjamin Franklin’s formal education ended with the second grade, but he can be recognized as one of the best educated people of his age. He liked to be called Doctor Franklin, although he had no medical training. He was given an honorary degree of Master of Arts by Harvard and Yale, and an honorary doctorate by St.Andrew and Oxford. In our day, an honorary degree is something colleges give to wealthy alumni, or visiting politicians, or some celebrity who will fill the seats at an otherwise boring commencement ceremony. Proper academicians have been known to sniff at such degrees and decline them as diluting the meaning of "earned" degrees. No thesis, no tuition payments, no research on the professor’s favorite topic, no teaching of the professor’s courses for him. Annoyingly, people with honorary degrees don’t give a fig for tenure.

And then, there is another level of academic aristocracy. Physicians, the real doctors, don’t want you confused by people who only have a Ph.D. Franklin even turned that one on its head. At that time, colleges were mostly concerned with educating young men to be clergymen, and philosophy was their term for what we now call science. He invented bifocal glasses. He invented the rubber catheter. He founded the first hospital in the country, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and he donated the books for it to create the first medical library in the country. Until the Civil war, that particular library was the largest medical library in America. He founded the University of Pennsylvania which still doesn’t have a divinity school, although it has a school of Religious Studies, placing religion on a level with archeology. Franklin wrote extensively about the gout, the causes of lead poisoning and the origins of the common cold. It would be hard to find anyone with either an M.D. degree or a PhD. degree, then or now, who displayed such impressive scientific medical credentials, without earning -- any credentials at all.

A toast to Doctor Franklin.

A Toast To J. William White, MD

J. William White left a legacy to the Franklin Inn, the income from which was to pay for an annual dinner, with all the trimmings. Good as its word, the Inn holds the J. William White dinner every year on Benjamin Franklin’s birthday, although inflation and fluctuations of the stock market require it to make a modest charge for attendance. White also created the J. William White Professorshipin Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, a chair which was once occupied by Jonathan Rhoads.

These trust-fund memorials do little to convey the wild and glamorous image of Bill White. White was a member of the First City Troops, and fought the last known honest-to-goodness duel on Philadelphia’s field of honor. The right and wrong of the argument are in dispute, but the details boiled down to White at the critical moment raising his gun to the sky and firing at the stars. That it was not a meaningless gesture was then brought out by his opponent taking slow and deadly aim -- and then missing him.

White was an academic in the sense that he was the first, unpaid, Professor of Physical Culture at the University of Pennsylvania. Active in the Mask and Wig Club, he was chief surgeon at Philadelphia General Hospital, chief surgeon to the Philadelphia Police, and chief surgeon to the Pennsylvania RailRoad. He was Chairman of the Fairmount Park Commission, and numerous other positions where political contact was more important than surgical skill. When World War I came along, he was off to France with the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Unit, writing two books about the starving Beligians and the need for America to save Europe. As one might expect, he was a great friend of Theodore Roosevelt, and although his friendship with Henry James suggests greater literary talent, Roosevelt published more than thirty books. What emerges from the history of Bill White is flamboyance and lots and lots of unfettered energy. He might feel a little out of place at one of his endowed dinners today, but he was probably always a little out of place in any company -- and didn’t care a whit.

A toast to Bill White.


A Toast To Silas Weir Mitchell, MD

Silas Weir Mitchell lived to be an old man during the Nineteenth Century, when it was unusual to get very old. He was an important part of both the Philadelphia medical scene, and the literary one. He became known as the Father of American Neurology as a published studies of nerve injuries caused by the Civil War. He published about 150 scientific papers, including famous investigations of the neurological effects of rattlesnake venom. His most famous medical treatment was the "rest cure" for hysteria, while his most enduring scientific discovery was the phenomenon of causalgia. He despised Freud, and psychonanalysis. No doubt the feeling was mutual, but the passage of time has tended to favor Mitchell more than Freud. The central role of sex is the essence of Freud’s viewpoint, while Mitchell’s is summarized in the remark that, "those who do not know sick women, do not know women."

Mitchell’s second career was literary, publishing 12 novels and 5 books of poetry. He is honored as the founder of the Franklin Inn Club, for a century home to every important literary figure in Philadelphia. It is striking that he selected Benjamin Franklin as the guiding star of the Inn, since Franklin similarly was eminent in both science and culture, and an ornament to conversation and society. In a pacifist Quaker City, both men approved of combat, and his novel about Hugh Wynne stresses that his hero was a "Free Quaker, meaning one who fought in the Revolution. Because of his strong Republican views, he was never made a professor at the local medical school.

Mitchell’s patient Andrew Carnegie donated the funds to build a new building for the College of Physicians when Mitchell was its President. When Mitchell was president of the Franklin Inn, Carnegie wrote him, asking for suggestions about donating a small sum, say five or ten million, and asking where it should go. That was the Inn’s big chance, all right, but somehow it failed the test. Mitchell suggested that the money be given to raise the salaries of college professors, thus demonstrating a certain lack of foresight about the future direction of college tuitions.

A toast to Silas Weir Mitchell.


Keywords: Franklin Inn, Camac Street, wooden block paving, S. Weir Mitchell, S. William White MD,

© George Ross Fisher, M.D., 2004

The First Pennamite War (1769-1771

The First Pennamite War (1769-1771)

The Penn family called the sheriff (named Jennings) to evict Connecticut poachers from their land, and then a glamorous adventurer named Ogden burned their cabins. The fifth time this happened, it was almost too bad about Ogden.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Things seemed peaceful in the Wyoming Valley for half a dozen years after the massacre, so Connecticut settlers slowly drifted back. This time, the people who didn't like poachers were the Proprietors of Pennsylvania. The Penns were no longer Quakers, did not control the State Government, and in fact were often in conflict with the Pennsylvania Quakers who had bought their land. They had to act as private citizens in their effort to expel the Connecticut poachers, which in this case meant calling Sheriff Jennings to evict them. Since everyone on the frontier in those days was armed and ready to fight, Jennings brought along a band of soldiers, led by Captain Amos Ogden.

On five different occasions, with escalating casualties, Jennings would arrest the settlers and take them before a judge in Easton, while Ogden stayed behind and burned the cabins and farm buildings to the ground, following which a somewhat larger group of Connecticut Yankees would return to the Wyoming Valley. By 1771, the Connecticut squatters had grown too numerous to be intimidated easily, and were militarily organized under an effective soldier, Zebulon Butler. Butler's men surrounded the handful of Pennsylvania soldiers in a fort under Ogden. At that point, Ogden briefly became a hero.

Seeing that reinforcements would be necessary, Ogden stripped naked, wrapped his clothes in a bundle around some sticks, and tied his hat on top. Tying a rope to the bundle, he floated down the river while the Connecticut sharpshooters peppered his hat with holes. Luckily, their aim was excellent, and Ogden escaped without being hit by a stray bullet. Off to Philadelphia for reinforcements.

Unfortunately, when Ogden and two hundred soldiers returned, Zebulon Butler ambushed them. In those days of honorable combat, Ogden was set free in recognition of his derring-do, but only on condition that he promised never to return. The Connecticut group was thus left in possession of the valley, and can fairly be said to have won the first war.

Keywords: Pennamite War, Sheriff Jennings, Amos Ogden, escapes, Wyoming Valley, Connecticut, Pennsylvania,

The Final Capture of Philadelphia (6)

The Final Capture of Philadelphia (6)

The British fleet dropped General Howe off at the head of the Chesapeake, planning to rejoin and resupply him by coming up the Delaware. But for six weeks the British couldn't subdue Forts Mifflin and Mercer, either by land or by sea, and had a close call before they finally did.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


<auctions>Philadelphia had only 25,000 inhabitants during the Revolutionary War, and nearly that many British soldiers of Sir William Howe poured into town, Victorious. Victorious, except fro being cut off from their supplies on the warships in the Chesapeake. Men o'war soon sailed up Delaware, but found the narrow channel between Fort Mifflin and Fort Mercer in New Jersey blocked by strange contraptions called chevaux-de-frise. These instruments consisted of heavy timbers sunk to the bottom of the river, containing massive iron prongs that reached almost to the surface but pointing downriver. They were an effective blocks to wooden vessels, and almost impossible to dislodge. The general arrangement was: Fort Mercer on the top of the New Jersey cliff called Red Bank (now National Park), overlooking the blockaded channel. On the other side of the ship channel was Fort Mifflin on a island. The second channel between Fort Mifflin's island and the Pennsylvania shore was quite shallow, allowing special gun barges and galleys to come down and attack larger vessels, then to be able to escape pursuit. The Americans had two years to perfect this defense, and it was formidable. Only one or two large sailing vessels could maneuver near it downriver, and at least the Pennsylvania side was difficult to attack across the mud flats.

<auctions>When Howe was considering how to attack Philadelphia as he sailed Southward past the mouth of the Delaware, he had decided it was hopeless for his fleet to attack this barrier if it was defending by an army, and the plan had been to defeat Washington, first However, in the event, Washington's Army was essentially intact, and from Valley Forge was able to interfere with supplies from the Chesapeake or lower Delaware Bay, and still send reinforcements to the river defense. The communication line on the West side was essentially what is now the Blue Route, the third side of a triangle from Conshohocken to Fort Mifflin. The bend in the Delaware made two sides of this triangle, and turbulence created by the river bend threw up mud island which made the channel particularly narrow. These islands have since been filed in for the airport, the stadiums and the Naval yard, so the battleground is today a little hard to make out, just is also true of Bunker Hill, North Church, etc in Boston Harbor.


Four or five hundred Americans were in each of the two forts, and eventually most of them were wiped out, at least half of them by starvation and exposure as much as cannon and musket fire. They had British on both sides of them, heavy guns bombarding them, attack for weeks. The British kept at it, because to fail would have meant the loss, by starvation and snipers, of the entire British expeditionary force in Philadelphia contingent of Hessians under von Donop was sent to Haddonfield and down the King's Highway to attack Fort Mercer from the rear. In a moment famous in Haddonfield, a runner named <auctions>Jonas Cattell sneaked out of the town and ran to Fort Mercer to tell the troops to turn their guns around for an attack from the rear, while the Quakers in the little town entered the Hessians in a very friendly way. There was more to it than that, with some heavy fighting in the open, but von Donop and most of his troops were casualties. Later on, a second assault by a different contingent did level the Fort. If not, there would have been a third of a fourth assault, because a river passage simply had to be forced. Before the repeated assault were over, Fort Mifflin had been bombarded into rubble. But what really carried the day for the British was the realization that if small Americans boats could sneak down the channel on the Pennsylvania side of Mifflin; then British small boats could go the other way, too. Although the river blockage was eventually broken, it took six weeks after the battle of Germantown, and meanwhile the heroic defense did a great deal to rally the sympathies of what had been considered maybe a Loyalist city, and partly loyalist state of New Jersey. Before the winter was over, Howe had to go back to London to explain himself, being replaced by General Clinton, who was much less cleaver and much more provocative as a conqueror. The first two years control by minority of hotheads. For the remaining five years of the war, the British concept was no longer liberation, but subjugation. The realization gradually spread, through both England and America, that war had been lost.



Keywords: Fort Mifflin, Fort Mercer, von Donop, chevaux-de-frise,

The Decision of Trenton (1782) Under the Articles of Confederation

The Decision of Trenton (1782) Under the Articles of Confederation

The 1782 Decision of Trenton simply awarded the Wyoming Valley to Pennsylvania. Strong suspicions exist that other secret decisions were never made public. Like awarding the Western Reserve of Ohio to Connecticut.





-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<auctions>As the Revolution was drawing to an end, it became time to settle the inter-state grievance of Pennsylvania and Connecticut. If they were all going to be United States citizens, it didn't matter much whether the residents of Wilke-Barre (as it was now known) were governed by the laws of Connecticut or Pennsylvania. But bloody grievances die hard, and slowly. The genteel debates envisioned by the Articles of Confederation were not not equal to settling blood feuds, but they tried. The two states selected judges to represent them, in a negotiated settlement which took place on neutral ground, Trenton, New Jersey. After protracted testimony and prolonged secret deliberation, the judges emerged with a very brief and unexplained decision: Wyoming Valley belonged to Pennsylvania. Period.



Almost every scholar of this subject is convinced that the unwritten decision contained two other provisions. Connecticut was given a piece of Ohio, Western Reserve. And the Pennsylvania representatives privately assured the group that the Pennsylvania Legislature would in time recognize the land titles of the Connecticut settlers who were actually resident on the land. Unfortunately, it is hard if not impossible to enforce an agreement that is secret, and the Connecticut claim to Ohio was eventually eliminated, while the Pennsylvania promise to recognize the land titles of people whose ancestors killed your ancestors, was much delayed, watered down, and resented.

http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/pa/luzerne/1893hist/ch6.htm



Trenton, New Jersey


Keywords: Decision of Trenton, Articles of Confederation, Wyoming Valley, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Western Reserve,

The Battle of Germantown: Oct. 3, 1777

The Battle of Germantown: Oct. 3, 1777

As long as the Delaware River was blocked at Fort Mifflin, the British army may have won the Battle of the Brandywine, but it still had no supplies from the British fleet and was adrift in enemy territory. Washington thought there was still a chance to save Philadelphia, and attacked Howe's forces from three directions in Germantown. The plan turned out to be too ambitious, Washington lost; but at least Howe learned to be much more cautious.




------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


After its brief commotion from the unwelcome reverberations of the French and Indian War, Germantown settled down to a period of colonial prosperity and quiet vigorous growth. Most of the surviving hundred historical houses of the area date from this period, and it might even be contended that the starting of the Union School had been a beneficial stimulus.

Almost two decades passed. What we now call the American Revolution started rumbling in far-off Lexington and Concord, soon moved to New York and New Jersey. General William Howe, the illegitimate uncle of King George III, then decided to occupy the largest city in the colonies, tried to get his brother's Navy up the Delaware but hesitated to persist in a naval attack on the chain barrier blocking the river. He sustained a defeat trying to outflank the New Jersey fort at Red Bank (now a National Park), and did not like the land based artillery at Fort Mifflin and heaven knows where else along the twisting shaggy river. The British gave up on that approach, sent the navy down to Norfolk and back up the Chesapeake, landed the troops at the head of the Elk River. Washington was soon defeated at the Battle of the Brandywine Creek trying to head him off. So Howe invested Philadelphia, organizing his main defensive position in the center of Germantown. His headquarters were in Stenton and Morris House, General James Agnew was at Grumblethorpe The Center of British defense was at set up at Market Square where where Germantown Avenue crosses Schoolhouse Lane. With Washington holed up in Valley Forge, that should take care of that. Raggety rebels were unlikely to attack a prepared hilltop position with a river on either side, defended by a large number of British regulars.



Washington did not look at things that way, at all. He had watched General Braddock conduct an arrogant suicide mission in the woods near Ft. Duqesne, and also knew the British didn't like to get too many yards away from their navy. His plan was to attack frontally down the Skippack Pike with the troops under his direct command, while Armstrong would come down Ridge Avenue and up from the side. General Greene would attack along Limekiln Road, while General Smallwood and Foreman would come down Old York Road. In the foggy morning of October 3, the main body of American troops reached Benjamin Chew's massive stone house, now occupied by determined British troops, and General Knox decided this was too strong a pocket to leave behind in his rear. Precious time was lost with an artillery bombardment, and unfortunately the flanking troops down the lateral roads were late or did not arrive at all. Forward movement stopped, then the British counter attacked. Washington was therefore forced to retreat, but he did so in good order. The battle was over, the British had won again.


But maybe not. <auctions>Washington had not routed the British Army, or forced them to leave Philadelphia. They did leave the following year, however, and there was meanwhile no great desertion from the Colonial cause. Washington's troops suffered terrible privation and discouragement at Valley Forge, but the crowned heads of Europe didn't know that. For reasons of their own, the French and German monarchs were pondering whether the American rebellion was worth supporting, or whether it would soon collapse in a round of public hangings. From their perspective, the Americans didn't have to win, in fact it might be useful if they didn't. But if they were spirited and determined, led by a man who was courageous and resolute, their damage to the British interests might be worth what it would cost to support them. The Battle of Germantown can thus be reasonably argued to have been a victory for Washington, even if he had to retreat in an orderly withdrawal.



In Germantown itself, the process of turning a defeat into a victory soon began, with alienation of the German inhabitants against the inevitably destructive experiences of a British military occupation. Germantown would never again see itself as the capitol city of a large German hinterland. It was on its way to becoming part of the city of Philadelphia.


Keywords:Battle of Germantown, Chew Mansion, Washington, Howe,

Sullivan’s March

Sullivan’s March

With Washington beleagured at Valley Forge, an Indian massacre of the nearby Wyoming Valley was a serious threat from the rear. General Sullivan was sent to exterminate the Iroquois, and proved utterly ruthless.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


<auctions>George Washington had plenty of other problems to contend with in 1778, but this was too much. He singled out General John Sullivan, a celebrated Indian fighter from New Hampshire, gave him four thousand troops, and told him to eliminate this Indian threat from the rear. From long experience, Sullivan knew what to do, and did it without remorse. Ignoring skirmishes and ambushed sentries, he marched his troops from the scene of the massacre straight into the heart of Iroquois homeland, destroying every source of food or Indian settlement he could find. He was not interested in winning battles, he was determined to starve the Indians into extinction, once and for all. After these two slaughters, a white one in Wyoming, and a red one in upstate New York, the entire frontier was a scene of devastation. Not much was heard of Indian fighting on the frontier for the rest of the Revolutionary War.



Keywords: General John Sullivan, Wyoming massacre, Sullivan's March, Valley Forge,

Philadelphia in 1658

Philadelphia in 1658
The Annalist John Watson reflects on the earliest scenes in Philadelphia.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
<auctions>"But of all the settlers prior to Penn, I feel most interested to notice the name of Jurian Hartsfielder, because he took up all of Campington, 350 acres, as early as March 1676, nearly six years before Penn's colony came. He settled under a patent from Governor Andros. What a pioneer, to push on to such a frontier post! But how melancholy to think, that a man, possessing the freehold of what is now cut up into thousands of Northern Liberty lots, should have left no fame, nor any wealth, to any posterity of his name. But the chief pioneer must have been Warner, who, as early as the year 1658, had the hardihood to locate and settle the place, now Warner's Willow Grove, on the north side of the Lancaster Road, two miles from the city bridge. What an isolated existence in the midst of savage beasts and men must such a family have then experienced! What a difference between the relative comforts and household conveniences of that day and this! Yea, what changes did he witness, even in the long interval of a quarter of a century before the arrival of Penn's colony! To such a place let the antiquary now go to contemplate the localities so peculiarly unique!"


--John F. Watson, Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the Olden Time

Keywords: John Watson, Warner's Willow Grove, Jurian Hartsfielder, Governor Andros, Campington, Northern Liberties,

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Origins of Haddonfield

The Origins of Haddonfield

Haddonfield was founded by a 19 year-old Quaker girl in 1701, when it was still a fairly dangerous place to be. She has over 140 direct descendants, and forty of them still live in the town. Some famous scenes from the Revolutionary War took place here.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



<auctions>Haddonfield, New Jersey is named after a teenaged Quaker girl who came to the proprietorship of West Jersey in 1701 to look after some land which her father had bought from William Penn. Geographically, the land was on what later came to be called the Cooper River, and it must have been a scary place among the woods and Indians for a single girl to set up housekeeping. It was related in the"Tales of a Wayside Inn" that Elizabeth proposed to another young Quaker named John Estaugh. Because no children resulted, she sent to her sister in Ireland to send one of her kids, who proved unsatisfactory. So the kid was sent back, and Ebenezer Hopkins was sent in his place. Thus we have Hopkins pond, and lots of Hopkins in the neighborhood. Eventually, the first dinosaur skeleton was discovered in the blue clay around Hopkins Pond, and now can be seen in the American Museum of Natural History , so you know for sure that Haddonfield is an old place. Eventually, the Kings Highway was built from Philadelphia to New York (actually Salem to Burlington at first) and it crosses the Cooper Creek near the old firehouse in Haddonfield, which claims to house the oldest volunteer fire company in America, but not without some argument about what was first, what was oldest, and what is continuous. Haddonfield is, in short, where the Kings Highway crosses the Cooper, about seven miles East of City Hall in Philadelphia. The presence of the Delaware River in between makes a powerful difference, since at the same distance to the West of City Hall is the crowded shopping and transportation hub at 69th and Market Street. Fifty years ago, Haddonfield was a little country town surrounded by pastures, and seventy years ago the streets were mostly unpaved. The isolation of Haddonfield was created by the river, and ended by building the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in 1926. If you go way back to the Revolutionary War, the river created a military barrier, and many famous patriots like Marquis de Lafayette, Dolley Madison, Anthony Wayne and others met in comparative safety from the British in the Indian King Tavern. In a famous escapade, "Mad" Anthony Wayne drove some cattle from South Jersey around Haddonfield to the waterfalls at Trenton, and then over the back roads to Washington's encampment at Valley Forge. In retaliation, the British under Banastre Tarleton rode in to nearby Salem County and massacred the farmers at Hancock's Bridge who had provided the cattle. At another time, the Hessians were dispatched through Haddonfield to come upon the Delaware River fortifications at Red Bluff from the rear. Unfortunately for them, they encamped in Haddonfield overnight, and a runner took off through the woods to warn the rebels at Red Bluff to turn their cannons around to face the attack from the rear, which was therefore repulsed with great losses. These stories are told with great relish, but my mother in law found out some background truths. Seeking to join the Daughters of the Revolution in Haddonfield, she was privately told that the really preferable ladies' club was the Colonial Dames. Quaker Haddonfield, you see, had been mostly Tory.


A local boy named <auctions>Alfred Driscoll became Governor of New Jersey, but before he did that he was mayor of Haddonfield. He had gone to Princeton and wanted to know why Haddonfield couldn't look like Princeton. All it seemed to take was a few zoning ordinances, and today it might fairly be claimed that Haddonfield is at least as charming and beautiful as Princeton, maybe nicer. At the very least, it has less auto traffic. Al Driscoll went on to be CEO of a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical corporation, and everyone agrees he was the world's nicest guy. The other necessary component ofbeautiful colonial Haddonfield was a fierce old lady who was married to a lawyer. Any infraction of Al's zoning ordinances was met with instant attack, legal, verbal, and physical. A streetside hot dog vendor set up his cart on Kings Highway at one time, and the lady came out and kicked it over. If you didn't think she meant business, there was always her lawyer husband to explain things to you. She probably carried things a little too far, and one resident was driven to the point of painting his whole house a brilliant lavender, just to demonstrate the concept of freedom. Now that she and her husband are gone, the town continues to be authentic and pretty, probably because dozens of other citizens stand quietly ready to employ some of her techniques if the need arises.



Keywords: Haddonfield, Elizabeth Haddon, John Estaugh, Governor Driscoll, Joan Aitken, Mad Anthony Wayne,

The Missouri Compromise

The Missouri Compromise


Pennsylvania's contribution to this bargain between the slave-holding South and abolitionist North was that William Bingham owned much of what was to become the state of Maine. That gave the free states two new senators to balance two slave-holding senators for Missouri.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Louisiana Purchase took place in 1804. Napoleon<auctions> insisted on payment in gold, which the United States government didn't have. William Bingham of 3rd and Spruce Street graciously supplied the necessary gold as a loan, eventually repaid around the time of the Civil War, long after Bingham had died. It's an interesting question whether Nicholas Biddle might have been involved in the financing of the Louisiana Purchase, too. He was part of the American diplomatic mission in France and definitely had a hand in the details of the treaty. Philadelphia was a pretty small town at that time, so it seems certain he knew Bingham, although his own future banking career was not yet visible.


By fifteen years after the purchase, settlers from the South had poured into what is now Missouri, taking their slaves along with them, and petitioning to be admitted as a state. While slave owners had every right to do so, anti-slavery forces in the North were distressed to see slavery spreading into the new western territories, and particularly upset to see two new pro-slavery Senators from Missouri upset the deadlock that kept either side from advancing its cause by statute. <auctions>Henry Clay of Kentucky proposed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had three main components. Missouri would be admitted as a slave state, but -- slavery in the new territories would otherwise not be permitted north of the southern boundary of Missouri in the future, and the voting balance in the Senate would be preserved by carving out a new state of Maine from Massachusetts.



<auctions>The Maine part brings us back to Philadelphia and William Bingham, because the Bingham estate largely owned the land that would become the new State of Maine. To go back a little, Massachusetts had earlier sold off three million acres to General Henry Knox, later Washington's Secretary of War, in order to pay its Revolutionary War debts. Knox was not wealthy, and soon found the purchase was more than he could manage. William Bingham was always looking for good investments, and acquired the land for $250,000, or ten cents an acre. Just about everything Bingham touched soon turned to gold, but Maine proved to be one of his more mediocre investments. As farmland, it was pretty poor.



Not only was Maine cold, it had been scraped down to rock by the earlier glaciers. Bingham's gamble was that settlers would be forced to go North instead of West by uncertainty about the Indians. The managers of his estate switched attention from farming to lumbering, and eventually made out reasonably well, but it wasn't what Bingham had hoped for. Ohio had the topsoil that had been scraped from Maine,George Washington owned 5,000 acres of Kentucky,and 33,000 elsewhere. Aaron Burr had dreams of a Western empire of his own, Andrew Jackson was willing to move Indians tribes thousands of miles if they got in the way. Bingham had essentially stepped on his own toes, and the Louisiana Purchase offered such cheap fertile farmland that the West made Maine look pretty unattractive to settlers. Meanwhile he was betting against many of the political leaders of the country. Oh, well, you can't win 'em all.

Keywords: Missouri Compromise, Maine, William Bingham, slavery,

The Franklin Inn

The Franklin Inn
Founded by S. Weir Mitchell as a literary society, this little club hidden on Camac Street has been the center of Philadelphia's literary life.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Camac Street is a little alley running parallel to 12th and 13th Streets, and in their day the little houses there have had some pretty colorful occupants. The three blocks between Walnut and Pine Streets became known as the street of clubs, although during Prohibition they had related activities, and before that housed other adventuresome occupations. In a sense, this section of Camac Street is in the heart of the theater district, with the Forrest and Walnut Theaters around the corner on Walnut Street, and several other theaters plus the Academy of Music nearby on Broad Street. On the corner of Camac and Locust was once the Princeton Club, now an elegant French Restaurant, and just across Locust Street from it was once the Celebrity Club. The Celebrity club was once owned by the famous dancer Lillian Reis, about whom much has been written in a circumspect tone, because she once successfully sued the Saturday Evening Post for a million dollars for defaming her good name.

Camac between Locust and Walnut is paved with wooden blocks instead of cobblestones, because horses' hooves make less noise that way. The unpleasant fact of this usage is that horses tend to wet down the street, and in hot weather you know they have been there. Along this section of narrow street, where you can hardly notice it until you are right in front, is the Franklin Inn. The famous architect William Washburn has inspected the basement and bearing walls, and reports that the present Inn building is really a collection of several -- no more than six -- buildings. Inside, it looks like an 18th Century coffee house; most members would be pleased to hear the remark that it looks like Dr. Samuel Johnson's famous conversational club in London. The walls are covered with pictures of famous former members, a great many of them cartoon caricatures by other members. There are also hundreds or even thousands of books in glass bookcases. This is a literary society, over a century old, and its membership committee used to require a prospective member to offer one of his books for inspection, and now merely urges donations of books by the author-members. Since almost any Philadelphia writer of any stature was a member of this club, its library represents a collection of just about everything Philadelphia produced during the 20th Century. Ross & Perry, Publishers has brought out a book containing the entire catalogue produced by David Holmes, bound in Ben Franklin's personal colors, which happen to be gold and maroon, just like the club tie.

The club was founded by S. Weir Mitchell, who lived and practiced Medicine nearby. Mitchell had a famous feud with Jefferson Medical College two blocks away, and that probably accounts for his writing a rule that books on medical topics were not acceptable offerings from a prospective member of the club. So there.

The club has daily lunch, with argument, at long tables, and weekly roundtable discussions with an invited speaker. Once a month there is an evening speaker at a club dinner, with the rule that the speaker must be a member of the club. Once a year, on Benjamin Franklin's birthday, the club holds an annual meeting and formal dinner. At that dinner, the custom has been for members to give toasts to three people, all doctors, including Dr. Franklin, Dr.S.Weir Mitchell the founder, and Dr. J. William White who endowed the dinner. Some sample toasts follow:

A Toast to Doctor Franklin



Benjamin Franklin's formal education ended with the second grade, but he can be recognized as one of the best educated people of his age. He liked to be called Doctor Franklin, although he had no medical training. He was given an honorary degree of Master of Arts by Harvard and Yale, and an honorary doctorate by St.Andrew and Oxford. In our day, an honorary degree is something colleges give to wealthy alumni, or visiting politicians, or some celebrity who will fill the seats at an otherwise boring commencement ceremony. Proper academicians have been known to sniff at such degrees and decline them as diluting the meaning of "earned" degrees. No thesis, no tuition payments, no research on the professor's favorite topic, no teaching of the professor's courses for him. Annoyingly, people with honorary degrees don't give a fig for tenure.

And then, there is another level of academic aristocracy. Physicians, the real doctors, don't want you confused by people who only have a Ph.D. Franklin even turned that one on its head. At that time, colleges were mostly concerned with educating young men to be clergymen, and philosophy was their term for what we now call science. He invented bifocal glasses. He invented the rubber catheter. He founded the first hospital in the country, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and he donated the books for it to create the first medical library in the country. Until the Civil war, that particular library was the largest medical library in America. He founded the University of Pennsylvania which still doesn't have a divinity school, although it has a school of Religious Studies, placing religion on a level with archeology. Franklin wrote extensively about the gout, the causes of lead poisoning and the origins of the common cold. It would be hard to find anyone with either an M.D. degree or a PhD. degree, then or now, who displayed such impressive scientific medical credentials, without earning -- any credentials at all.

A toast to Doctor Franklin.

A Toast To J. William White, MD



J. William White left a legacy to the Franklin Inn, the income from which was to pay for an annual dinner, with all the trimmings. Good as its word, the Inn holds the J. William White dinner every year on Benjamin Franklin's birthday, although inflation and fluctuations of the stock market require it to make a modest charge for attendance. White also created the J. William White professorship in Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, a chair which was once occupied by Jonathan Rhoads.

These trust-fund memorials do little to convey the wild and glamorous image of Bill White. White was a member of the First City Troops, and fought the last known honest-to-goodness duel on Philadelphia's field of honor. The right and wrong of the argument are in dispute, but the details boiled down to White at the critical moment raising his gun to the sky and firing at the stars. That it was not a meaningless gesture was then brought out by his opponent taking slow and deadly aim -- and then missing him.

White was an academic in the sense that he was the first, unpaid, Professor of Physical Culture at the University of Pennsylvania. Active in the Mask and Wig Club, he was chief surgeon at Philadelphia General Hospital, chief surgeon to the Philadelphia Police, and chief surgeon to the Pennsylvania RailRoad. He was Chairman of the Fairmount Park Commission, and numerous other positions where political contact was more important than surgical skill. When World War I came along, he was off to France with the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Unit, writing two books about the starving Beligians and the need for America to save Europe. As one might expect, he was a great friend of Theodore Roosevelt, and although his friendship with Henry James suggests greater literary talent, Roosevelt published more than thirty books. What emerges from the history of Bill White is flamboyance and lots and lots of unfettered energy. He might feel a little out of place at one of his endowed dinners today, but he was probably always a little out of place in any company -- and didn't care a whit.

A toast to Bill White.

A Toast To Silas Weir Mitchell, MD



Silas Weir Mitchell lived to be an old man during the Nineteenth Century, when it was unusual to get very old. He was an important part of both the Philadelphia medical scene, and the literary one. He became known as the Father of American Neurology after publishing studies of nerve injuries caused by the Civil War. He published about 150 scientific papers, including famous investigations of the neurological effects of rattlesnake venom. His most famous medical treatment was the "rest cure" for hysteria, while his most enduring scientific discovery was the phenomenon of causalgia. He despised Freud, and psychonanalysis. No doubt the feeling was mutual, but the passage of time has tended to favor Mitchell more than Freud. The central role of sex is the essence of Freud's viewpoint, while Mitchell's is summarized in the remark that, "those who do not know sick women, do not know women."

Mitchell's second career was literary, publishing 12 novels and 5 books of poetry. He is honored as the founder of the Franklin Inn Club, for a century home to every important literary figure in Philadelphia. It is striking that he selected Benjamin Franklin as the guiding star of the Inn, since Franklin similarly was eminent in both science and culture, and an ornament to conversation and society. In a pacifist Quaker City, both men approved of combat, and his novel about Hugh Wynne stresses that his hero was a "Free" Quaker, meaning one who fought in the Revolution. Because of his strong Republican political views, he was never made a professor at the local medical school.

Mitchell's patient Andrew Carnegie donated the funds to build a new building for the College of Physicians when Mitchell was its President. When Mitchell was president of the Franklin Inn, Carnegie wrote him, asking for suggestions about donating a small sum, say five or ten million, asking where it should go. That was the Inn's big chance, all right, but somehow it failed the test. Mitchell suggested that the money be given to raise the salaries of college professors, thus demonstrating a certain lack of foresight about the future direction of college tuitions.

A toast to Silas Weir Mitchell.

Keywords: Franklin Inn Club, S. Weir Mitchell, J. William White,