Francis Martin Drexel (1792-1863)

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Artist. Financier. He would become the head of one of one of the world’s most significant banking families, but he began working life as a portrait painter in his home town of Dornbirn, Vorarlberg, Austria. He fled to Switzerland after a failed Austrian rebellion against Napoleon’s Empire. From Switzerland, he traveled throughout Europe finding painting work where he could. He eventually moved to Philadelphia and worked as a portraitist. He earned an excellent reputation, and saw his work shown at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. For a time he lived in South America, continuing his portrait work. During the Texas War of Independence he moved to Mexico to paint portraits of influential families. Returning to Philadelphia in the late 1830s, his interests shifted from art to finance. His experiences in Europe, South America, and Mexico, in times of peace and times of crisis, gave him an understanding of how money supplies worked. This led to banking and the founding of the brokerage house of Drexel and Company. His three sons, Francis Anthony, Anthony Joseph, and Joseph William, joined him in the company. He was married to Catherine Hookey.

 

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Joseph V. Horn (1861-1941)

Horn

Businessman. The son of the owner of a surgical supply company, he grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and established a restaurant business. Advertizing for a partner, Horn met and hired Frank Hardart in 1886. Hardart introduced the French-drip coffee that is generally credited with the firm’s early success, and additional restaurants were opened. In the late 1800s mechanized food delivery without the use of table servers became popular in Germany and Europe; Hardart visited Berlin in 1900 and saw the “automat.” The partners ordered the German machinery and opened the first automat in Philadelphia in 1902. Hot entrees, cold sandwiches, bowls of soup, and slices of pie awaited in the cubicles behind the small glass doors which opened when the right number of nickels were inserted in the slots. The team opened its first Manhattan automat in New York City’s Times Square in 1912. Despite the company’s expansion, food quality was guaranteed by a book Horn wrote. It contained recipes and operating regulations, and was the Bible of every Horn and Hardart establishment. Reasonable prices, food variety, and uniform quality made the restaurants successful. There was no English requirement for immigrants who used their nickels to open whichever automat doors they chose. In 1924 the company’s new retail stores sold prepackaged automat favorites. The easily purchased and served “home cooked” meals were advertised as requiring “Less Work for Mother.” Though some ascribe the decline of Horn and Hardart automats to rival eateries, others maintain that the beginning of the end occurred when the automats raised the price of a cup of its famous coffee from five to ten cents in 1950. The last automat, located on 200 East 42nd Street, at Third Avenue in mid-town Manhattan, closed in 1991.

Frank Hardart, Sr. (1850-1918)

Hardart

Businessman. In 1858, his family emigrated from Bavaria to New Orleans, where, at 13, he learned the French-drip method of brewing coffee while working at a lunch counter. In 1886, Hardart answered an advertisement for a restaurant partner placed by Philadelphian Joseph V. Horn and became his partner. Hardart’s introduction of French-drip coffee is generally credited with the firm’s early success. Additional restaurants were opened. In the late 1800s mechanized food delivery without the use of table servers became popular in Germany and Europe; Hardart visited Berlin in 1900 and saw the “automat.” The partners ordered the German machinery, and, in 1902, opened the first American automat in Philadelphia. Hot entrees, cold sandwiches, bowls of soup, and slices of pie awaited in the cubicles behind the small glass doors which opened when the right number of nickels were inserted in the slots. The team opened its first Manhattan automat in New York City’s Times Square in 1912. Despite the company’s expansion, food quality was guaranteed by a book Horn wrote. It contained recipes and operating regulations, and was the Bible of every Horn and Hardart establishment. Reasonable prices, food variety, and uniform quality made the restaurants successful. There was no English requirement for immigrants who used their nickels to open whichever automat doors they chose. Though some ascribe the decline of Horn and Hardart automats to rival eateries, others maintain that the beginning of the end occurred when the automats raised the price of a cup of its famous coffee from five to ten cents in 1950.

Louis Godey (1804-1878)

Godey

Publisher. As a boy this son of French immigrants delivered newspapers in New York City. Moving to Philadelphia he became an editor for the Daily Chronicle where he dealt largely with cutting and pasting articles from other sources. As he became financially successful, he founded The Lady’s Book in 1830. It was the first periodical that targeted women who aspired to be “ladies.” The magazine gave direction in fashion and etiquette, along with recipes, dress patterns, and crafts. Early issues reflected the same cutting and pasting Godey had learned at the Chronicle. In 1837 he moved from replicating French magazines, to presenting a truly American publication: he hired Sarah Josepha Hale as literary editor of the renamed Godey’s Lady’s Book. Hale was committed to advancing education for young women: she believed a woman could achieve any goals she wanted. Under Hale’s leadership in the 1840s, the publication became the American magazine with the highest circulation. In addition to fashion, Godey’s Lady’s Book contained short stories, essays, and poetry by figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Cullen Bryant, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. The magazine reached over 150,000 subscribers by 1858. Starting in 1845 Godey copyrighted each issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book to prevent other periodicals from cutting and pasting articles and literature from its pages. Godey also published two other magazines: The Young People’s Book (1841) and Lady’s Musical Library (1842).

Jacob Mendez DaCosta (1833-1900)

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Medical Pioneer. He was the first to identify what has become known as “post traumatic stress disorder.” He studied at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and received postgraduate education in Paris, France and Vienna, Austria. Returning from Europe, he began practicing and teaching in Philadelphia. During the Civil War, he served as assistant surgeon in the Union Army. He studied what he called “irritable heart” in soldiers; the research was profound in clinical medicine. The diagnosis which he called “irritable heart” became “soldier’s heart,” “DaCosta’s syndrome,” and, finally, “post traumatic stress disorder.” After the Civil War, DaCosta returned to teaching at Pennsylvania Hospital until 1900. His research, writing, and teaching developed the specialty of internal medicine. Retiring in 1891, DaCosta continued to work to improve medical education and served as a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. DaCosta’s psychiatric interest begun in Vienna is seen in “Clinical lecture on spurious or ‘phantom’ tumors of the abdomen.” His masterwork, however, was Medical Diagnosis. It was the first complete diagnostic handbook.

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)

Lucretia Mott

Abolitionist, Suffragist, and Educator. Lucretia Coffin was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and raised a Quaker. Lucretia married James Mott in 1811. In 1821, the couple moved to Philadelphia, and as a Quaker minister, Lucretia began her work. Quakers differed from other religions in their equal treatment of women. Like other Quakers, Mott was active in the abolitionist movement. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting had a strong anti-slavery position as early as 1758 through the work of John Woolman. Mott’s contribution to the abolition movement lay in her clear and reasoned explanation of how political advocacy could improve the position of African-Americans. She traveled widely speaking on the issue. Mott and her husband also sheltered slaves as they passed along the Underground Railroad. Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were sent as delegates to the 1840 World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London. The men controlling the convention denied them representation. Mott responded to the rejection, and adopted another concern, when she pledged to work ceaselessly for women’s rights. In 1848, she and Stanton organized the first women’s rights convention in the United States at Seneca Falls, New York. Later Stanton credited conversations with Mott, while seated in the segregated women’s section of the convention, with the idea of the holding a women’s rights convention. The list of resolutions demanded rights for women, improved educational and employment opportunities, and the vote. Her book, Discourse on Women, published in 1850 detailed the educational, economic, and political restrictions placed on women in Western Europe and America. As slavery came to a legal end throughout the United States in 1865, Mott then began the movement to register African-Americans to vote. Mott remained active in the women’s movement until her death in Abington, Pennsylvania, at the age of 87.

Mathew Carey (1760-1839)

Mathew Carey

At fifteen, he decided to be both a printer and bookseller, and two years later he produced his first pamphlet. A later publication, addressed to Irish Catholics was so incendiary that Carey had to escape Ireland to avoid prosecution and imprisonment. After fleeing to Paris, Carey met Benjamin Franklin who represented the United States at the court of Versailles. Franklin offered him printing work, and Carey emigrated to America. He founded the Pennsylvania Herald in 1785 and the Columbian Magazine in 1786; he became a prominent publisher and bookseller in Philadelphia. Carey published the Douay Bible (the Catholic Bible) which appeared in 48 weekly installments that would be bound by the subscribers once all issues were received. An important contribution to American culture was his periodical, The American Museum; it was the first American periodical to treat American culture as rich, valued, and original, rather than as a poor imitation of Great Britain’s. His publishing house would be continued by his son, Matthew, and son-in-law, Isaac Lea. It was later run by Carey’s grandson Henry Charles Lea. Carey was a member of ecumenical American Sunday School Union: Episcopal Bishop William White, Quakers Dr. Benjamin Rush and Thomas P. Cope, and Carey, were among the founders. The Union’s goal was to formally educate children and adults in Christianity through with the use of classes and teaching materials.

William Bradford (1855-1895)

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The son of Philadelphia publisher William Bradford, he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Princeton. In 1776, he entered the Pennsylvania Militia as a private. He later joined the Continental Army in which he became a colonel. He served as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General from 1780 to 1791, and sat on the Commonwealth’s Supreme Court from 1791 to 1794. Bradford supported Benjamin Rush and the Pennsylvania Prison Society in limiting the death penalty. As a result of Bradford’s essay, “An Inquiry How Far the Punishment of Death is Necessary in Pennsylvania,” the Pennsylvania legislature in 1794 abolished capital punishment for all crimes except premeditated murder. George Washington appointed him as second Attorney General of the United States; he served from 1794 to 1795.

Edwin Fitler (1825-1895)

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Edwin Fitlet made a fortune as a rope-manufacturer, being the founder of the Fairhill Steam Cordage Works , which manufactured rigging for ships. He served as the Mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1887 to 1891. His popularity led to his being nominated by his fellow Pennsylvanians for the presidency of the United States at the 1888 Republican convention. He was the first mayor of Philadelphia to be elected to a four year term under Philadelphia’s then new City Charter; mayors had previously served a one, two, or three year term. Fitler was the first Philadelphia mayor to occupy offices in the new (and current) City Hall. Though he moved up in society, Fitler never forgot his roots. He was a contributor and officer of the Kensington Soup Society.

Henry Disston 1819-1878

Henry Disston

Henry Disston

Orphaned at fourteen, with a sixteen year old sister to support, Henry Disston got a job as an apprentice saw maker. He learned to make saws and the machines that produced them. He developed a tempered steel that guaranteed that his saws were both flexible and strong. Operating out of a basement, Disston started his own business in 1840. Despite obstacles, he had real success when he chose to build his factory in the Tacony section of Philadelphia. He not only saw himself building a factory, but a working class community in which workers would live in homes with open space and have a chance to own their own houses. Disston saw a responsibility to meet his workers’ economic, social, and cultural needs. In 1872, construction began on the saw factory. By 1876 the workers’ homes were built. Money to buy homes was available through a building and loan association established by Disston; he even gave cash advances to guarantee that his employees could buy their homes. Disston even piped fresh water from the Delaware River to Tacony. He built a school, the Tacony Music Hall, and a library containing two thousand books. A newspaper was established. A firehouse was built; Disston’s eldest son Hamilton , was an integral part of it. Tacony even had its own scientific society. All of these projects were supported by Henry Disston’s money. His wife, Mary, built Disston Memorial Presbyterian Church in honor of her husband, a devout Presbyterian. Disston was a real patriot, as were his employees. To those who joined the military he offered to pay, during their absence, a sum equal to half of their Army pay and promised that their jobs would be waiting for them upon their return.

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