The Evolution of Politics in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has been through many changes over time when it comes to politics. From its founding by William Penn to its role as a temporary capital for the United States during the American Revolution to its current status as a major industrial center with a power

The Evolution of Politics in Philadelphia

The city of Philadelphia was founded in 1682 by William Penn in the English Crown Province of Pennsylvania, between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. Before that, the area was inhabited by the Lenape people. Philadelphia quickly became an important colonial city and during the American Revolution it was the site of the First and Second Continental Congresses. After the Revolution, the city was chosen as the temporary capital of the United States. In the early 19th century, the federal and state governments abandoned Philadelphia, but the city remained a cultural and financial hub of the country.

It became one of the first industrial centers in the United States, with textiles being one of its most important industries. Around 1900, Philadelphia had been described as “corrupt but content”, a status quo that Philadelphians were satisfied with until 1939, when a group known as the Young Turks and influenced by the Democratic Party's national New Deal began to campaign for reform of statutes and creation of an urban planning commission; from then on, Democrats would dominate city politics. Published in Philadelphia in its first edition in January 1776, Thomas Paine's Common Sense became one of the most widely disseminated and read political treatises in history. Politically, the city was dominated by the Republican Party, which had developed a powerful political machine. It looked forward to democratic politics and universal human rights, but it also reflected the local circumstances of Philadelphia. On October 4, 1779, the home of famous Pennsylvania lawyer and statesman James Wilson (1742-9), on the southwest corner of Third and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia, became a focus of tension for Philadelphians divided by politics and class.

The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), a nonprofit corporation jointly controlled by the city government and Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, was formed in 1958 to support existing businesses and attract new ones by offering land and low-cost financing for for-profit and not-for-profit businesses. The Italian population of Philadelphia went from about 300 inhabitants in 1870 to about 18,000 in 1900, most settling in South Philadelphia. In addition to the Constitutional Convention of May 1787, United States policy was no longer focused on Philadelphia. The city has hosted national political conventions from the time of Revolution to modern era. As Philadelphia expanded physically following consolidation of city and county in 1854, building contractors exercised greater degree of political power as they generously paid politicians and public officials for rights to build infrastructure. At a time when Philadelphia's African-American population was growing and gaining political influence, organizers of event also received criticism as they gained ground.

Philadelphia, long considered “cradle of freedom” in United States, was also “cradle” of political parties that emerged in American politics during 1790s when city was also nascent nation. Social and economic elites dominated formal politics in Pennsylvania and New Jersey during colonial and revolutionary eras, but ordinary people often those without right to vote helped shape political culture. As political, economic, and cultural capital of first United States, Philadelphia became center for production of political cartoons and humorous cartoons. The wave of reforms that swept City Council in mid-20th century owed much of its power to Great Philadelphia Movement (GPM), voluntary group of business leaders who believed that city's scandalous political corruption threatened its economic future. Philadelphia has been through many changes over time when it comes to politics. From its founding by William Penn to its role as a temporary capital for the United States during the American Revolution to its current status as a major industrial center with a powerful Democratic Party machine dominating city politics - it has seen it all. Thomas Paine's Common Sense, published in 1776, is one example of how influential this city has been on American politics.

The Great Philadelphia Movement (GPM) is another example - this voluntary group worked hard to reform City Council during mid-20th century due to their belief that corruption threatened economic progress. The Italian population grew significantly during this time period as well - from 300 inhabitants in 1870 to 18,000 by 1900 - most settling in South Philadelphia. This influx brought with it new perspectives on politics which were further shaped by African Americans gaining more influence over time. Political cartoons were also produced here during this period which helped shape public opinion. Philadelphia has been an important part of American history since its founding - from hosting national political conventions to being home to influential figures like James Wilson - it has played an integral role in shaping our nation's politics. It is clear that this city has gone through many changes over time when it comes to politics - from its founding to its current status - but one thing remains constant: its importance as a major player in American politics.

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