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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, History (Hayward)

Gazetteer/Almanac

John Hayward, Gazetteer of the United States of America... (Philadelphia: James L. Gihon, 1854), 516-523.

Philadelphia was first laid out in 1682, under the direction of its celebrated founder, William Penn. For some notice of this distinguished benefactor of his race, and of his connection with the history of Pennsylvania, the reader is [referred] to our general description of the state, p. 125. An appropriate monument now marks the spot in the district of Kensington, where the great elm tree once stood, near the bank of the Delaware, under the shadow of which Penn, soon after his arrival, acting upon the pacific principles of his religious creed, so successfully negotiated with the Indian chiefs, disarming their apprehensions and jealousies by his calm, benevolent demeanor, and by the presents of useful implements and goods which he offered, and establishing the most amicable relations of intercourse between them and his infant colony. "Great promises," he says, "passed between us, of kindness and good neighborhood; and that the Indians and English must live in love as long as the sun gave light." "Under the shelter of the forest," says Bancroft, " now leafless by the frosts of Autumn, Penn proclaimed to the men of the Algonquin race, from both banks of the Delaware, from the borders of the Schuylkill, and it may have been even from the Susquehanna, the same simple message of peace and love "which George Fox had professed before Cromwell, and Mary Fisher had borne to the Grand Turk. The English and the Indian should respect the same moral law, should be alike secure in their pursuits and their possessions, and adjust every difference by a peaceful tribunal, composed of an equal number of men from each race."
    The ground so judiciously selected by its founder for the site of his new city having been previously claimed by three Swedish emigrants by the name of Swenson, under a grant from the Dutch governor of New York, Penn had to extinguish their claim by giving them in exchange a tract of land higher up on the Schuylkill. Late in the year 1682, assisted by Thomas Holme, a surveyor, he laid out the city proper on the land so purchased, with substantially the same outline and divisions which it now has. When he departed for England, two years afterwards, the city contained 300 houses and 2500 inhabitants. On board the ship, he wrote a farewell letter to his infant colony, replete with his characteristic benevolence. In this letter he says, "And thou Philadelphia, the virgin settlement of this province, what service and what travail has there been to bring thee forth! 0 that thou mayst be kept from the evil that would overwhelm thee; that, faithful to the God of thy mercies, in the life of righteousness, thou mayst be preserved to the end. My soul prays to God for thee, that thou mayst stand in the day of trial, that thy children may be blessed of the Lord, and thy people saved by his power."
It would seem that, from the first, Penn had the idea that a large city would be built up on the site which he had selected. Dr. Prideaux, in his work on the "Connection of the Old and New Testaments," after describing the plan of ancient Babylon, says, "Much according to this model hath William Penn, the Quaker, laid out the ground for his city of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania; and were it all built according to that design, it would be the fairest city in America, and not much behind any other in the whole world." It is little, now that this beautiful design has been so happily executed, to say that posterity honors the judgment of the learned critic. Philadelphia is undoubtedly one of the fairest cities in America, or in the world.
In 1699, after an absence of 15 years, during which time, in consequence of the revolution in England which drove James II. from the throne, Penn had been deprived of his authority over Pennsylvania, and had it restored to him again, he revisited this country. Having made some changes in the government, he sailed again for England in 1701, where he remained until his death, in 1718. In 1719, the mayor and aldermen employed Jacob Taylor to stake out the 7 streets of the city, in order to prevent encroachments by building thereon. This year the first Weekly Gazette was published by Andrew Bradford. In 1727, Benjamin Franklin started another weekly paper, called "The Pennsylvania Gazette." In 1738, Benjamin Franklin instituted the first fire company in Philadelphia. In 1743, the first Lutheran Church was built, and the first Dutch Reformed Church in 1747. In 1749, agreeably to a suggestion of Dr. Franklin, a portion of Second Street, from Market Street to Chestnut Street, was paved; a horse having been mired there, and his rider having been thrown and broken his leg. At this time the city contained about 15,000 inhabitants; and for some time afterwards Fifth Street might be considered as its western limit. St. Paul's, the first Episcopal Church, was founded in 1760 ; and the same year, the Pennsylvania Hospital, and also the first public library, by the influence of Dr. Franklin. In 1773 the first stage coaches were established to run to New York; the previous lines having been post wagons. Now came on that series of events connected with the American revolution, in which this city so largely and honorably participated. In 1780 the Bank of Pennsylvania was established, for the purpose of supplying the army of the United States for two months, by a subscription of £300,000, by 90 persons; among whom were Robert Morris and Blair McClennachan, who subscribed £10,000 each. Dr. Franklin died on the 17th of April, 1790, leaving, among other public benefactions, £1000 sterling, to be loaned to unmarried mechanics, under 25 years of age, upon certain conditions adapted to secure and encourage individual enterprise and thrift. This constituted the foundation of the public fund known as the Franklin Fund, which now amounts to about $25,000. Dr. Franklin was born in Boston, January 17, 1706, and became a resident of Philadelphia about 1723. His practical wisdom and philanthropy originated many of its early economical improvements, and brought into being some of its most distinguished literary and humane institutions. His fame as a man, a patriot, and a philosopher is an everlasting legacy of honor to the city of his adoption. His unostentatious grave is in the N. W. corner of the churchyard of Christ Church, at the corner of Fifth and Arch Streets ; which is covered with a plain marble slab resting upon the ground, in strict accordance with the directions in his will, which were as follows: "I wish to be buried by the side of my wife, if it may be; and that a marble stone, to be made by Chambers, 6 feet long, 4 feet wide, plain, with only a small moulding round the upper edge, and this inscription —
BENJAMIN and DEBORAH FRANKLIN, 178-
— be placed over us both." The only change necessary to be made was in the figure 8, Providence having prolonged his life, beyond his expectations, until 1790.
    Philadelphia received its charter from the proprietary, October 25, 1701. The government of the city proper is in the hands of a mayor, a select council of 12, and a common council of 20 members. One third of the select and the whole of the common council are chosen annually by the people, and the councils elect the mayor. The aldermen, 15 in number, are appointed by the governor to act, with the mayor and recorder, as judges, during good behavior; and the aldermen act as justices of the peace. The whole legislative power is in the councils, of which the select council is the upper house.
    The several districts, or liberties, of Philadelphia, N. and S. of the city proper, are separate municipalities; having, at different dates within a comparatively modern period, received their respective charters of incorporation. They are governed each by a body of commissioners, elected for three years, one third of them being chosen annually.
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