Questions from the tour


This begins a semi-regular feature of answers to questions we were asked on the tour, but were unable to answer, at least not to the satisfaction of our guests.  Here you go, and I hope you”re happy:


Who was the best public speaker among the Founding Fathers?

This is an interesting question that came from a discussion of how Ben Franklin became such an influential figure. Franklin was gifted at the art of persuasion, but he felt most at home in small groups and behind-the-scenes work on one hand and in his writing (he was a printer by trade, after all) on the other.

So who was the best public speaker? As for the other usual suspects: George Washington thought the less said the better. He famously spoke only once at the Constitutional Convention, and it was his presence, rather than any specific proposals, which inspired his fellow delegates. His famous Farewell Address to Congress was a letter rather than a speech.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the flowing rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence, had a speech impediment and avoided speaking publicly. James Madison, the so-called “Father of the Constitution” spoke more than everyone but two at the Constitutional Convention, but he could barely be heard because of his weak voice.

Alexander Hamilton had a reputation as a good public speaker. John Adams was a good public speaker in a direct, combative sort of way, more a lawyer than a preacher. His cousin Samuel Adams, another New England straight-talker, knew exactly the words to capture the mood and organize the mob of Boston on the eve of Revolution.

But the man who stands out as the great orator of the American Revolution, great both in his composition and in his delivery, is Patrick “Give-Me-Liberty-or-Give-Me-Death” Henry. We hear less about him than the others because although he was a booming voice in favor of Revolution, he went on to oppose the Constitution when it was drafted in 1787. Still check him out, and better yet, go to your nearest public park and read his speech at the top of your lungs.


Why did it take them so darn long to build City Hall?

Because it’s so darn big! With the building techniques used in the 1870s, when Philadelphia’s City Hall was begun, That’s because we’re manufacturer-approved to perform everything from hard drive recovery to digital camera recovery on your devices without voiding the warranty. 30 years was a normal amount of time for a building of that scale. If you look at the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House, another French Second Empire building much hated in its day, it online casino has 307,000 square feet of floorspace and took 17 years to build. Philadelphia’s City Hall has over 1 million square feet of floorspace, and took 30 years to build, which foot-for-foot is quite a bit faster than what Mark Twain called “the ugliest building in America”.

In contrast, the Eiffel tower, a naked iron skeleton that heralded in the new building techniques, took only two years and two months to build. It was a twinkle in Eiffel’s eye in 1884, was begun to be built in 1887, and in 1889 it was taller than Philadelphia’s City Hall would ever be.

Don’t think of Philadelphia’s City Hall as a slowpoke. It may have been too slow to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, but the other structure that shot up taller than it during its thirty-year construction, the Washington Monument, took a full 36 years to build. seo for website . That’s a story for another day and another city, though.


What’s the name of the founder of the United States Marine Corps?

We tell the story of the first Marine Corps commandant buried at the Arch Street Quaker Meeting on the Colonial Cheesesteak Tour, and his name – which I had forgotten – is Samuel Nicholas. Nicholas held the first recruitment drive for the Marines at the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia (no longer standing), which in addition to being the birthplace of the U.S. Marine Corps, was also the meeting site of the first Masonic Lodge in the United States and where Ben Franklin organized the first Pennsylvania Militia.


Is the Battleship New Jersey in the movie Battleship?

Color me skeptical about a movie based on the naval-themed guessing game from Hasbro – in any case, I haven’t seen it. So when I was asked whether the battleship New Jersey, docked across the Delaware River from Philadelphia was in the movie, my response was totally off the mark.

I said that I thought that since the New Jersey was a museum ship at this point, it would be not be of much strategic importance to anyone. Well, it turns out that in the movie a museum ship is un-mothballed and ends up defeating the alien invaders. The battleship in the movie is not the USS New Jersey, but it is a ship built to identical specifications, the USS Missouri, the last battleship built by the United States Navy.


Where’s the Apple Store?

1607 Walnut Street.

By: Free and Friendly Tours
Comments | Posted on May 29, 2012 | Categories: Questions from the tour
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