Thatcher Longstreth

Thacher Longstreth was Philadelphia’s best advertisement and salesman.  He was the only local Republican of any significance in Philadelphia since the election of Joe Clark for Mayor in 1951.  Being a businessman for Longstreth did not imply reactionary politics,  no social concern, hostility to organized labor,  and indifference to the environment.   Environmental issues for the cities means clean air,  reduced traffic congestion, and less nerve racking noise. He had a deep commitment to the city as a hub for fine arts, recreation, education, and business.   Longstreth just plain  loved Philadelphia.

No doubt the loss of much of the Longstreth affluence in the Stock Market Crash of 1929 made him a more feeling person.  I learned from below that Thacher Longstreth was a Quaker and a cousin of Herbert Hoover.  Philadelphia was the only city that Hoover carried in his re-election campaign in 1932.  This stemmed from Philadelphia’s Republican base rather than Hoover’s Quakerism.   It is just, of course, a coincidence.

I saw Thacher Longstreth several times.  Well over six feet and lean, he was one those rare gentlemen who could wear bow ties well.   He had  intellectual appearance but never talked over anyone’s head.  In 1971, I saw Eugene McCarthy give a rousing speech for Longstreth for Mayor.  McCarthy, a lifelong Democrat, had left the Senate about nine months earlier.   Longstreth’s and McCarthy’s beliefs meshed quite well

Thacther Longstreth was a businessman, with no apologies.   He strongly believed that Corporations,  Small Business, and the Government could work in unison for the common good.   This is utopia which no city will ever achieve; steady progress is the only measure.

The Republican Party, founded in Ripon, WI in 1856, had planks such as universal public education, support for organized labor,  internal improvements, a tariff to protect industry, a sound banking banking system, and urban planning.  Thacher Longstreth was a Republican in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln,  Robert LaFollette, George Norris, Herbert Hoover, and Charles Evans Hughes.  Longstreth will have a prominent place in the city’s history.

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