In the years just before the American Revolution, the lower part of Southwark — what is now called Queen Village — was a neighborhood of scattered houses and small farms. …


REVIEW: “Jean Paul Marat: Tribune of the French Revolution,” by Clifford D. Conner. (Pluto Press, London 2012.)

Historians have not been kind to Jean Paul Marat. Published scholars of the French Revolution, at least in the English language, almost invariably disparage Marat and his work, portraying him as a wild…


“The Whiskey Rebellion” attributed to Frederick Kemmelmeyer. In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Public Domain).

The winter season of 1794 wore away quickly, yielding a spring of unusual heat in Philadelphia. This raised alarm that an epidemic of yellow fever might strike for a second year in a row. But the heat took a holiday; May Day was cool and drizzly. Despite the chill, about…


The 1798 fight on the floor of Congress between Democratic Republican Congressman Matthew Lyon (holding tongs) and Federalist Congressman Roger Griswold. Lyon, who opposed the preparations for war by the Adams administration, was later arrested and jailed under the Sedition Acts.

The United States has recently weathered months of political unrest, culminating in the uproar over the outcome of the 2020 elections. To help gain perspective on our own period, it might be worth looking at a time in the early history of the U.S. republic that was particularly contentious.

In…


“A Morning Ramble or the Milliner’s Shop.”

Millinery was an important trade in 18th century Philadelphia, and it was commonly carried out by women. Several millinery shops were located in what is now called Queen Village, especially in the New Market of S. Second Street — the Head House Square of our own times.

Today, milliners are…


The yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793. Source unknown.

Slightly over 200 years ago, Philadelphia was devastated by recurring waves of yellow fever. The epidemic of 1793 wiped out a tenth of the population of the city and adjacent areas, and thousands more died from outbreaks of the disease throughout the next decade.

In the district of Southwark (now…


“Sailor with Binoculars” by Martin Aagaard (unknown).

For close to three centuries, experienced pilots have guided seagoing vessels through the treacherous waters of the Delaware River and Bay. In the very early days, merchant vessels often relied on Native American pilots from the area of the Delaware capes. …

Michael Schreiber

Michael Schreiber is a writer and local historian who lives in the Queen Village (formerly Southwark) section of Philadelphia. Website: www.philahistory.org

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