Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

Related Topics

Colonial Philadelphia (Pre- 1776)
It's surprising to most Americans to learn the American Revolution was not the beginning, but almost half-way through the European settlement. And before the Revolution, there were thousands of years of settlement by non-European tribes. We know more about non-European settlers than we did fifty years ago, but records are still very poor or non-existent, and not likely to catch up very rapidly. History will begin in 1492 for a very long time. Long before that, it isn't history, it's anthropology.

Benjamin Franklin
A collection of Benjamin Franklin tidbits that relate Philadelphia's revolutionary prelate to his moving around the city, the colonies, and the world.

Philadelphia, A Running Commentary
A series of observations in and around Philadelphia by notables over the last three and one-half centuries.

Causes of the American Revolution
Britain and its colonies had outgrown Eighteenth Century techniques of governance. Unfortunately, both England and America lacked the sophistication to make drastic changes smoothly.

Philadelphia in '76

Spirit of '76

Although the origins of the American Revolution are subtle and complex, even historically controversial, we have more or less united in the idea that we "declared" our independence from Britain on July 4, 1776. We then spent eight years convincing the British we were serious and have been independent ever since. Reflect, however, on the fact that fighting had been going on for a year in Massachusetts, and that Lord Howe's fleet had set sail a month before the Declaration, actually landing on Staten Island at just about the same time as the Fourth of July. Add to that the fact that only John Hancock actually signed the document on July 4th, and some of the signers waited until September. You can sort of see why John Adams never got over the idea that Thomas Jefferson had quite a nerve implying the whole thing was his idea. What's more, New England subsequently had to live with a President from Virginia for thirty-two of the first thirty-six years of the new nation. Philadelphia may have been the cradle of Independence, but that was not because it was a colony hot for war, dragging the others along with it. It was the largest city in the colonies, centrally located. It had a strong pacifist tradition, and it had the most to lose from a pillaging enemy war machine.

New England was in the position of having started hostilities, and about to be subdued by overwhelming force. The Canadians were not going to come to their aid, because they were French, and Catholic, and enough said. What the New Englanders wanted was WASP allies, stretching for two thousand miles to the South. By far the largest colony was Virginia, which included what is now Kentucky and West Virginia; it even had some legal claims for vastly larger territory. The rest of the English colonies had plenty of assorted grievances against George III, and almost all of them could see that America was rapidly outgrowing the dependency on the British homeland, without any sign that Parliament was ever going to surrender home rule to them. Perhaps it was unfortunate that New Englanders were so impulsive, but it looked as though a confrontation with the Crown was inevitably coming, and without support, New England was likely to be subdued like Carthage.

And then, the last hope for flattery and diplomacy, for guile and subtlety, stepped off the boat. Benjamin Franklin, our fabulous man in London, had it "up to here" with the British ministry. He finally was saying what others had been thinking. It was now, or never.

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Originally published: Monday, June 26, 2006; most-recently modified: Friday, September 20, 2019


Posted by: Batte Charles   |   Sep 17, 2011 5:28 AM
yeah, I agree with the person below me.... not only because she is my little sister (named Bianca), but because this is a piece of shit, and it didn't help me at all either!
Posted by: Marvin Greensty   |   Feb 6, 2011 3:36 PM
thank you soooo much this really helped me because I have a book report due Mon. and this totally helped!
Posted by: tialk   |   Dec 11, 2010 10:04 PM
put more on american revolution
Posted by: marian simpson   |   Jan 8, 2010 3:35 PM
you should put in more about who was the leader of the parliament. possibally
Posted by: taylor   |   Mar 26, 2009 4:51 PM
add more pictures, it helps certain people to understand the battles and the losses.
more info,please.
Posted by: sarah londin   |   Dec 1, 2008 6:06 PM
It may be helpful to do a summary paragraph for those just looking for basics. Make everyone happy. lol ^-^
Posted by: L053R   |   Nov 16, 2008 8:49 PM
Wow i likes it allot
i'm learing all this in my history class this week thats so cool.
i agree with hailey!@?!?@
Posted by: Some body   |   Oct 31, 2008 4:31 PM
I agree, you should put more about who was the leader of Parliament. You didn't even write who was the leader of Parliament.
Posted by: Dawnstar24   |   May 27, 2008 6:55 PM
what really happen during the war!
Posted by: Rachel   |   Feb 29, 2008 2:33 PM
You did ok. ok!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by: Bob   |   Jan 10, 2008 10:01 AM
Well, Jake, the next time I'm near the LOVE statue, I'll take a picture of the boys skateboarding. That's where they usually are, unless the weather is bad.
Posted by: George Fisher   |   Dec 21, 2007 3:31 PM
you need to put something about skate Boarding In it.
Posted by: jake   |   Dec 18, 2007 7:49 PM
thiis is so cool! I love history
Posted by: Hailey Landin   |   Dec 18, 2007 7:48 PM
ths is very interesting I liked it!!!!
I love history!
Posted by: Hailey Landin   |   Dec 18, 2007 7:46 PM
you should put in more about who was the leader of the parliament.
Posted by: taylor   |   Dec 11, 2007 8:11 PM
put in more about Germantown.
Posted by: hi   |   Nov 29, 2007 1:58 PM