Old School Politics

(From top left) Samuel Powel, Charles Willing, Thomas Willing.

Penn has been well represented in City Hall in recent decades—with Ed Rendell C’65 Hon’00, who served from 1992 to 2000, and newly elected Mayor Michael Nutter W’79, not to mention W. Wilson Goode WG’69’s two terms in the 1980s—but the University was no slouch back in Philadelphia’s Colonial and Revolutionary eras, either.

A very basic search of the University Archives and Records Center website—that is, typing in “mayor of philadelphia”—turned up father-and-son mayors Charles and Thomas Willing, as well as Samuel Powel C’1759 (their son- and brother-in-law, respectively), whose portraits are shown here.

Charles, a Penn founder and trustee, served two one-year terms in 1748 and 1754, dying in office during the latter. Son Thomas was a Penn trustee for 31 years (1760-1791); his mayoral term was in 1763.  While the Willings got their schooling in England, Powel was an alumnus of the Class of 1759 (the third class to graduate) as well as a longtime University trustee and the husband of Charles Willing’s daughter Elizabeth.  Powel—of the Powelton Village Powels, by the way—was elected in 1775 and 1789, the last mayor before Independence was declared and the first under a new 1789 charter.  (In the interim, the state government had run Philadelphia’s affairs.)


Photos: University Archives and Records Center

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