User Tools

Site Tools


johnson_making_the_early_modern_metropolis

Before the mid 18th Century, the crops being shipped out of Pennsylvania were meant for the West Indies, but soon after 1730, they were being exported more to Mainland Europe and other territories. More and more people would begin to move to the town of Philadelphia after this shift. As other farmers bring crops like Fruits, Livestock, and more, Philadelphia grew to become a major city that rivaled Boston and New York for economical and urban supremacy in North America. (David Y.)

As the city of Philadelphia developed, crime became a large issue. Early on, the government and laws were largely built on the Quakers' religious and more egalitarian principles, which became an issue as the city grew and incorporated people from varying backgrounds. The government structure and laws changed as the city grew, for example, new laws were created to address gatherings of enslaved people and capitol punishments were expanded to cover a broader range of categories. (Kynzie J.)

A group of Quakers came up with the idea of blending Medieval ideology and modernism to create sort of a feudal system with enslaved people. This did not end up happening, but it set the precedent for a blending of traditional and modern ideas.

There were many questions over who held what kind of power in Philadelphia. It was not obvious to the people of Philadelphia whether they were held to the standards of British imperial law or local legislation. Additionally, due to its stature, Philadelphia was a hotbed for public displays of defiance towards authority which stemmed from an entrenched suspicion of the law itself, so not only was it unclear which laws to follow, there was defiance against the law in general. This distain for the law developed in part due to the educational gap between lawyers and the common folk, as the former were often viewed as devious as they used their understanding of the law for personal gain. The result was a city in which it was not evident to the citizens which laws to adhere to or even which laws to trust, if any. People in Philidelphia were extremely conscious of the rights they had under the law, and they were very focused on securing their privileges. They held the government responsible for their actions.

During the late 1600s and to the mid 1700s, Crime in and around Philadelphia had started to evolve. With the development and use of newspapers, criminal acts and stories began to be publicized to the public as a form of entertainment that hadn’t been seen before. These stories of crime fed Philedelphian society’s interests and helped lead to a variety of reform and change that would take place over time. (Jacob M.) Crime in early 18th century Philadelphia also began to be associated with foreigners. The Transportation Act of 1718 in England made it so that convicted felons were brought over to North America for labor, and legislators in Pennsylvania voted to put a tax on felons being brought into Philadelphia because they were believed to bring crime. Public executions made clear examples of these foreigners.

The Philadelphia economy ran on a system of credit/debt that helped simplify transactions. Since there was so little gold/silver money in circulation (so little that they took to using Spanish money) the Philadelphians made verbal/written agreements for purchases. This system also helped to circumvent the raw bartering system that would could befit a cash short economy by allowing transactions to take place at different times with different evaluations. This credit/debt system wasn't perfect, however, as failing to make ones debt payments could jeopardize their entire livelihood, as the creditor could claim property, land, or even servitude. (Ewan H.)

In the beginning, it seemed that Penn's goal was to make Philadelphia a much freer and less harsh place, but once leadership and authority changed hands it became a place that had higher rates of crime and harsh punishments that often had a lot of pushback from Philadelphians. There also weren't a ton of legal punishments in the beginning either. In the first couple decades of the city, the only crimes that had legal punishment were treason and murder. That changed in the years following - Emma Galvin

Philadelphia grew quickly and one of the biggest reasons for that was the fact that Quaker principles were egalitarian. There weren't a huge group of rich nobles who came over and bought big lots of land, rather equal distribution of land among many, allowing poorer migrants to be able to buy a smaller plot of land and build a life for themselves. There were more opportunities to prosper compared to other built up cities in other colonies.- Emma Galvin

johnson_making_the_early_modern_metropolis.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/25 18:01 by egalvin2