U.S. House approves New Philadelphia legislation
The U.S. House unanimously agreed to designate a site in western Illinois as a National Historical Park.
New Philadelphia was the first town in the nation founded, platted, and legally registered by an African American.
Republican Congressman Darin LaHood, speaking on the House floor, said designating New Philadelphia as a National Historical Park would ensure its preservation far into the future.
“The National Park Service will be able to provide the tools, resources, and expertise necessary to elevate the site to its fullest potential,” LaHood said.
The park designation must still be approved by the U.S. Senate. LaHood’s office said Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois have introduced the bill in the Senate.
New Philadelphia is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s been designated a National Historic Landmark.
“Free” Frank McWorter founded the community in 1836. He was a former slave who had bought his freedom, and LaHood said McWorter also helped others gain their freedom.
“Through the sale of land in New Philadelphia, among other business ventures, “Free Frank” used his earnings to free 15 other family members out of slavery,” the congressman said.
LaHood said the former site of New Philadelphia is now in the small city of Barry in Pike County.
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