Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A quick note about Philadelphia

My wife and kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and I was pleased by the tourist segments in which I participated. Philadelphia’s historic district is impressive, with all sorts of interesting and entertaining programming, thanks in large part to this organization. I liked the National Constitution Center well enough, as did the younger Knippenbergs, though dad and kids presumably had different interests and capacities for appreciating the exhibits.

One last point: in the historic district, ordinary Philadelphians were consistently friendly and helpful, one of them explaining to my wife that he tries harder because his city all too often gets overlooked as a tourist destination because of New York, Washington, and even Boston. I don’t know how widespread the attitude is ("the plural of anecdote is not data"), but we’d go back and recommend the experience to others.

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Here lies W. C. Fields. I would rather be living in Philadelphia. This was an epitaph Fields proposed for himself in a 1925 article in Vanity Fair.

That is taken from Wikpedia. Fields was born in Philadelphia and seemed to consider it a better place to be from than to return to, and said so, in variation on the theme, often. I have always liked Philadelphia. Their art museum is one of the better in the country. It must not always have been a nice city, as Fields’ was not the only derogatory comment of days past.

I was in Philly for APSA, too, and really got a lot out of my visit to Independence National Park. Congress Hall (just west of the infinitely more famous Independence Hall) is a really undiscovered gem. It’s also where the massive set-to between the Jeffersonian Matthew Lyon and the high Federalist Roger Griswold took place when both were US congressmen in the 1790s--they literally went at it with fireplace tongs and pokers. (I’ve always wondered whether any of the journalisto and bien pensant types who like to wring their hands about how awful partisanship is nowadays have ever read anything about US politics in the 1790s, or the 1850s, for that matter).

Later I drove out to Valley Forge. It was none too wintry on a Labor Day weekend, but the topography of the site and the reconstructed Continental Army huts remain impressive--and besides, Washington and his men were actually there till mid-June of 1778, so it wasn’t all about snow.

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