(as of Sep 08,2018 03:30:14 UTC – Details)
HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA.
Manners and customs, 1700-1800
Penn’s city-during the revolution – the America city
What would have been William Peon’s amazement if, on his leaving Philadelphia, in 1701, he could have had a vision of the future ; if he had been told that three-quarters of the new century would barely have elapsed when the bells of that city would ring their joyful peals in honor of the birth of a nation, and “proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof;” if, peering still farther into that mysterious future, he had seen that nation, standing a giant amidst its elders, a living example of the blessings of freedom ? But Penn, however far-sighted, had no such vision. Neither can we, even in this wonderful progressive age, pierce the veil of futurity and read what changes another century shall bring. The past alone is ours, and if, looking into that past, we see, with the mind’s eye, the City of Brotherly Love as it was when its founder left it, never to return, and then turn to the Philadelphia of to-day, the contrast will be almost as great a matter of wonder to us as the vision would have been to Penn.
And yet the origin of Philadelphia is not hidden in the mist of ages, like that of the ancient cities of the Old World ; it is not legendary, we need not accept uncertain facts from tradition, although more than two centuries have passed away since the first white man’s cabin was built on the shore of the Delaware, and our fathers were participators in the struggle for liberty to which we owe our being as a nation. We should be too familiar with our history to wonder at it. But the rapidity of the changes that occurred in the last century has done the work of ages. Old landmarks have been swept oft’, records destroyed, the chain of events broken, so to speak. So busy, so hurried is life in our day, that we scarcely note the changes that take place around us. It must be the historian’s task to colled the scattered material ere it is lost, to restore the missing links of facts ere they are disfigured by tradition, and by his pen-pictures nf the past to attach a new interest to objects and sites amidst which we live unmindful of the memories they awake.
Philadelphia, at the beginning of the eighteenth
century, was an object of curious interest to the stranger. Its green meadows, blooming gardens, and
! noble forest-trees endowed it with a sylvan beauty
| which the lover of nature, the seeker of peaceful rest, must have found very attractive, while the practical observer could not but be struck with the bustling activity which already reigned about its wharves, its mills and shops, and the hopeful, contented air of its inhabitants.
The first few years of the eighteenth century did not bring much change in the mode of life or the cos-
I tume of the Philadelphians, but they brought much improvement in the general appearance of the city. Many new houses were built, of brick, and generally two or three stories high. Some of these houses had a balcony, usually a front porch,—a feature of vast importance in house-building, for it became customary for the ladies of the family in pleasant weather to sit on the porch, after the labor of the clay was over, and spend the evening in social converse. In those early days, and for a long time after, the young ladies of Philadelphia did not think it disgraceful to help in the housework; a few, having a large retinue of servants, and being gifted with artistic tastes, devoted …