In the s, the British Parliament's passage of the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts , combined with other frustrations, increased political tension and anger against England in the colonies. Philadelphia residents joined boycotts of British goods. After the Tea Act in , there were threats against anyone who would store tea and any ships that brought tea up the Delaware. A committee told the captain to depart without unloading his cargo. A series of acts in further angered the colonies; activists called for a general congress and they agreed to meet in Philadelphia.
There they also met a year later to write and sign the Declaration of Independence in July Philadelphia was important to the war effort; Robert Morris said,. You will consider Philadelphia, from its centrical situation, the extent of its commerce, the number of its artificers, manufactures and other circumstances, to be to the United States what the heart is to the human body in circulating the blood. The port city was vulnerable to attack by the British by sea. Officials recruited soldiers and studied defenses for invasion from Delaware Bay , but built no forts or other installations.
In December fear of invasion caused half the population to flee the city, including the Continental Congress, which moved to Baltimore. In September , the British invaded Philadelphia from the south. Washington intercepted them at the Battle of Brandywine but was driven back. British troops marched into the half-empty Philadelphia on September 23 to cheering Loyalist crowds. The occupation lasted ten months.
After the French entered the war on the side of the Continentals, the last British troops pulled out of Philadelphia on June 18, , to help defend New York City. Continentals arrived the same day and reoccupied the city supervised by Major General Benedict Arnold , who had been appointed the city's military commander. The city government returned a week later, and the Continental Congress returned in early July. Historian Gary B. Nash emphasizes the role of the working class, and their distrust of their betters, in northern ports.
He argues that working class artisans and skilled craftsmen made up a radical element in Philadelphia that took control of the city starting about and promoted a radical Democratic form of government during the revolution. They held power for a while, and used their control of the local militia disseminate their ideology to the working class and to stay in power until the businessmen staged a conservative counterrevolution.
This led to unrest in , with people blaming the upper class and Loyalists. A riot in January by sailors striking for higher wages ended up with their attacking and dismantling ships.
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Soldiers broke up the riot, but five people died and 17 were injured. Due to political compromise, Congress chose a permanent capital to be built along the Potomac River. Philadelphia was selected as the temporary United States capital for ten years starting in After , the city's economy grew rapidly in the postwar years. Serious yellow fever outbreaks in the s interrupted development. Benjamin Rush identified an outbreak in August as a yellow fever epidemic , the first in 30 years, which lasted four months.
Two thousand refugees from Saint-Domingue had recently arrived in the city in flight from the Haitian Revolution. They represented five percent of the city's total population. They likely carried the disease from the island where it was endemic, and it was rapidly transmitted by mosquito bites to other residents. Fear of contracting the disease caused 20, residents to flee the city by mid-September, and some neighboring towns prohibited their entry.
The fever finally abated at the end of October with the onset of colder weather and was declared at an end by mid-November. The death toll was 4, to 5,, in a population of 50, The epidemic in Philadelphia also prompted an exodus; an estimated 1, residents died. Pennsylvania, which had abolished slavery in , required any slaves brought to the city to be freed after six months' residency. The state law was challenged by French colonial refugees from Saint-Domingue, who brought slaves with them, but defended by the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.
Through , slaves from Saint-Domingue gained freedom in the city. Because of the violence accompanying the revolution on the island, Philadelphians, many of whom had southern ties, and residents of the Upper South worried that free people of color would encourage slave insurrections in the U. During the city's 10 years as federal capital, members of Congress were exempt from the abolition law, but the many slaveholders in the executive and judicial branches were not. President Washington, vice-President Jefferson and others brought slaves as domestic servants, and evaded the law by regularly shifting their slaves out of the city before the 6-month deadline.
Two of Washington's slaves escaped from the President's House , and he gradually replaced his slaves with German immigrants who were indentured servants. In , a memorial on the site opened to commemorate Washington's slaves and African Americans in Philadelphia and U. The Pennsylvania state government left Philadelphia in and the United States government left in By this time, the city had become one of the United States' busiest ports and the country's largest city, with 67, people living in Philadelphia and its contiguous suburbs.
After the war, Philadelphia's shipping industry never returned to its pre-embargo status, and New York City succeeded it as the busiest port and largest city. The embargo and decrease in foreign trade led to the development of local factories to produce goods no longer available as imports. Manufacturing plants and foundries were built and Philadelphia became an important center of paper-related industries and the leather, shoe, and boot industries.
Naval Yard. In response to exploitative working conditions, some 20, Philadelphia workers staged the first general strike in North America in , in which workers in the city won the ten-hour workday and an increase in wages. In the mid and late s, immigrants from Ireland and Germany streamed into the city, swelling the population of Philadelphia and its suburbs. Many small row houses crowded alleyways and small streets, and these areas were filthy, filled with garbage and the smell of manure from animal pens. During the s and s, hundreds died each year in Philadelphia and the surrounding districts from diseases such as malaria , smallpox , tuberculosis , and cholera , related to poor sanitation and diseases brought by immigrants; the poor suffered the most fatalities.
Small rowhouses and tenement housing were constructed south of South Street. Violence was a serious problem. Gangs like the Moyamensing Killers and the Blood Tubs controlled various neighborhoods. During the s and early s when volunteer fire companies, some of which were infiltrated by gangs, responded to a fire, fights with other fire companies often broke out. The lawlessness among fire companies virtually ended in and when the city took more control over their operations. Nativists often held mostly anti-Catholic , anti-Irish meetings.
Violence against immigrants also occurred, the worst being the nativist riots in Violence against African Americans was also common during the s, 40s, and 50s. Immigrants competed with them for jobs, and deadly race riots resulted in the burning of African-American homes and churches. In , Joseph Sturge commented " The lawlessness and the difficulty in controlling it, along with residential development just north of Philadelphia, led to the Act of Consolidation in The act passed on February 2, making Philadelphia's borders coterminous with Philadelphia County , and incorporating various subdistrict within the county.
Once the American Civil War began in , Philadelphia's southern leanings were reduced. Popular hostility shifted against southern sympathizers. Mobs threatened a secessionist newspaper and the homes of suspected sympathizers, and were only turned away by the police and Mayor Alexander Henry. Philadelphia was also a major receiving place of the wounded, with more than , soldiers and sailors treated within the city. Philadelphia began preparing for invasion in , but the Confederate Army was repelled by Union forces at Gettysburg.
In the years following the Civil War, Philadelphia's population continued to grow. The population grew from , in to , in By , the city's population stood at , The dense population areas were not only growing north and south along the Delaware River, but also moving westward across the Schuylkill River.see
Swedes of the Delaware Valley by Margaret Murray Thorell
In , twenty-seven percent of Philadelphia's population was born outside the United States. In February , the Act of Consolidation made the city of Philadelphia inclusive of the entire county, doing away with all other municipalities. Many of the immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe were Jewish. In , there were around 5, Jews in the city , and by the number had increased to , Philadelphia's Italian population grew from around in to around 18, in , with the majority settling in South Philadelphia.
Along with foreign immigration, domestic migration by African Americans from the South led to Philadelphia having the largest black population of a Northern U. By , nearly 25, African Americans living in Philadelphia, and by the population was near 40, During the s much of Philadelphia's upper class moved into the growing suburbs along the Pennsylvania Railroad's Main Line west of the city. Politically the city was dominated by the Republican Party , which had developed a strong political machine. The Republicans dominated the post-war elections, and corrupt officials made their way into the government and continued to control the city through voter fraud and intimidation.
The Gas Trust was the hub of the city's political machine. The trust controlled the gas company supplying lighting to the city. With the board under complete control by Republicans in , they awarded contracts and perks for themselves and their cronies. Some government reform did occur during this time. The police department was reorganized; and volunteer fire companies were eliminated and were replaced by a paid fire department. Higher education changed as well. The city's major project was organizing and staging the Centennial Exposition , the first World's Fair in the United States, which celebrated the nation's Centennial.
Beginning May 10, , by the end of the Exposition on November 10, more than nine million people had visited the fair. The project was graft-ridden and it took twenty-three years to complete. Upon completion of its tower in ,  City Hall was the tallest building in Philadelphia, a position it maintained until One Liberty Place surpassed it in Westward expansion of the Pennsylvania Railroad helped Philadelphia keep up with nearby New York City in domestic commerce, as both cities fought for dominance in transporting iron and coal resources from Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia's other local railroad was the Reading Railroad , but after a series of bankruptcies, it was taken over by New Yorkers. The Panic of , which occurred when the New York City branch of the Philadelphia bank Jay Cooke and Company failed, and another panic in the s hampered Philadelphia's economic growth.
It had numerous iron and steel-related manufacturers, including Philadelphian-owned iron and steel works outside the city, most notably the Bethlehem Iron Company in the city by that name. The largest industry in Philadelphia was textiles. Philadelphia produced more textiles than any other U. The cigar, sugar, and oil industries also were strong in the city.
By the end of the century, the city provided nine municipal swimming pools, making it a leader in the nation. In the beginning of the 20th century Philadelphia had taken on a poor reputation. People both inside and outside of the city commented that Philadelphia and its citizens were dull and contented with its lack of change. Harper's Magazine commented that "The one thing unforgivable in Philadelphia is to be new, to be different from what has been. The Republican-controlled political machine, run by Israel Durham , permeated all parts of city government.
In , the city enacted election reforms, such as personal voter registration and the establishing primaries for all city offices. But, residents became complacent, and the city's political bosses continued in control. With no central authority, Senator Boies Penrose took charge. In , infighting between McNichol and the Vares contributed to the reform candidate, Rudolph Blankenburg , to be elected mayor. During his administration, he made numerous cost-cutting measures and improvements to city services, but he served only one term.
The machine again gained control. The policies of Woodrow Wilson 's administration reunited reformers with the city's Republican Party and World War I temporarily halted the reform movement. In , the murder of George Eppley, a police officer defending City Council primary candidate James Carey, ignited the reformers again. They passed legislation to reduce the City Council from two houses to one, and provided council members an annual salary. In the s the public flouting of Prohibition laws, mob violence, and police involvement in illegal activities led Mayor W.
Marine Corps as director of public safety. Butler cracked down on bars and speakeasies and tried to stop corruption within the police force, but demand for liquor and political pressure made the job difficult, and he had little success. After two years, Butler left in January and most of his police reforms were repealed. On August 1, , Boss Vare suffered a stroke, and two weeks later a grand jury investigation into the city's mob violence and other crimes began. Numerous police officers were dismissed or arrested as a result of the investigation, but no permanent change resulted.
Inland, Susquehannock Minquas peoples living in fortified villages along the Susquehanna River proved especially determined to maintain independence in the fur trade, and played Swedes, Dutch, and English against each other. A decade of intermittent war with Lenapes between and typified the larger contest for control over furs in the North Atlantic world. The outcome earned Susquehannock traders the right to do business in Lenape areas along Delaware Bay and instigated a trade alliance among the groups. American Swedish Historical Museum, Philadelphia.
Lenapes welcomed trade with Dutch sailors, who entered the bay and river by about The Dutch West India Company established Fort Nassau on the eastern side of the Delaware River in as part of its colony of New Netherland, an outpost of the Dutch commercial empire and potential source of furs for the expanding European market.
Dutch activity expanded in , when officials bargained with a southernmost Lenape community, Sickoneysincks, for a tract of land reaching from Cape Henlopen to the mouth of the Delaware River. By the resulting colony, Zwaanendael, consisted of about thirty colonists housed in a palisaded fort. Within a year, however, the venture ended in violence. After the Sickoneysincks determined that the Dutch intended to build an agricultural settlement, not merely a trading fort, they destroyed the fort and its occupants.
Though the colony failed, its brief existence prevented the future area of Delaware, or at least southern Delaware, from being adjudged part of Maryland. In the mids, Peter Minuit c. He understood the strategic geographical importance of the lower Delaware Valley, and that the Dutch West India Company had insufficient resources to devote to its development and defense. The New Sweden Company, under leadership of Minuit and other investors, benefited from Dutch colonial experience and funding while enjoying the added advantage of patronage and the protection of the Swedish monarch.
The fort, which became the base of one of two primary European settlements along the west side of the river in the seventeenth century, stood at the confluence of the Brandywine and Christina Creeks, later Wilmington, northern New Castle County. At its peak, the colony claimed territory along both sides of the Delaware from the mouth of the bay to the falls later Trenton, New Jersey , and the settlers traded with Lenapes and Susquehannocks.
New Sweden officials established fortifications along the river in an effort to control trade with Indian fur suppliers.
History of Delaware : the 17th Century
Most New Sweden settlers lived along the tributaries of the Delaware River between what later became Wilmington and Philadelphia. They maneuvered for trade advantages, particularly after Peter Stuyvesant d. By , the Dutch administration on Manhattan Island and directors in Amsterdam had realized the importance of settling the lower Delaware. Stuyvesant provocatively replaced Fort Nassau in with Fort Casimir, a second principal European settlement just south of the Swedish Fort Christina. Stuyvesant was concerned not only with Swedes but with English efforts to colonize the river.
After Stuyvesant invaded New Sweden in , Sweden lost its tenuous foothold in this middling borderland. The Dutch then divided the settlements on the Delaware into two colonies. Two rows of house and garden plots extended south from the fort along the river.
Purportedly houses were completed within a year for Dutch administrators, soldiers, traders, and a mix of settlers from across northern Europe. Within a few years, however, political infighting and economic turmoil led to outmigration, and the population plummeted. Settlers arriving from Maryland and Virginia caused concern because Charles Calvert, Lord Baltimore considered the lands between the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River part of his proprietorship.
Plans to profit from the tobacco trade with Maryland were stymied by epidemic and the inability of farmers to support the population. Dutch administrators remained suspicious and distrustful of these Finnish and Swedish settlers. The unstable, contested relationships among the multinational, multicultural population of the lower Delaware Valley paved the way for conquest by the English in , after Charles II granted his brother James, Duke of York , proprietary rights to land extending from New England to the east side of Delaware Bay.
Beginning in the late s, Swedes, Finns, and Dutch from the Christina Valley and New Castle moved west and south, while English settlers, including some from Maryland, moved to the west bank of the Delaware in small but increasing numbers.
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Often they brought enslaved Africans with them. In Governor Francis Lovelace c. By the mids, distinct communities of Finns, a wealthy elite, and multiethnic peasants had emerged along the west coast of the lower Delaware. Under the Duke of York, the tobacco economy in Delaware flourished. By , pork and corn joined tobacco as the principal agricultural exports to England, Scotland, and the West Indies. Sufficient population growth and economic development had occurred along the central Delaware coast to warrant the division of Kent County from Whorekill in that year.
In some areas these new colonists and descendants of earlier settlers expanded into grain farming and milling and established commercial orchards and animal husbandry operations. Judy Anastasi grew up in southwest Philadelphia but has lived most of her life in Norwood Borough. She is also on the board of the Lansdowne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as well as the previous treasurer of the Norwood Public Library. Judy has a great love of American history and was appointed to the Heritage Commission in Jane has been a resident of Thornbury Township for 42 years.
She has been a member of the Heritage Commission for about 20 years. Grant brings over 25 years of non-profit leadership experience with her and has worked for, served on, and worked alongside of numerous boards throughout her career, including serving as a founding director of the Rose Valley Centennial Foundation.
As a lifelong resident, he has always enjoyed exploring Delaware County and its rich history. He is an attorney by day, but also researches and writes regularly on topics of local history for several area publications. Beth McCarrick has been a resident of Delaware County all of her life and has lived in Bethel Township for over 30 years. Karen Micka has been appointed to the Heritage Commission since Karen is also active in helping to organize the Western Delco History Tours.
Related Swedes of the Delaware Valley (Images of America)
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