Illinois Senators Introduce Bill to Make New Philadelphia a National Park | Story
BARRY, Ill. – New Philadelphia could move closer to national park status thanks to new legislation introduced in the US Senate.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth this week introduced legislation to designate the original city of New Philadelphia as a national historic park.
âThis means that we are one step closer to making New Philadelphia a unit of the National Park Service, and in this way we will preserve the history and memory of Free Frank McWorter and all of the people who lived in the area. city ââof New Philadelphia, âsaid Marynel Corton, executive director of the New Philadelphia Association.
New Philadelphia was the first city created and legally registered by an African American, Frank McWorter, in 1836.
âThe history of New Philadelphia must be preserved and shared with each generation to learn more about Illinois and the history of our nation,â Durbin said in a press release.
The bill, Senate Bill 3141, was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
âHonoring the legacy of New Philadelphia and celebrating the history of black Americans is of critical importance,â Duckworth said in the press release. âIt is high time that our national parks better reflect the people and history of our country, and it is time that we properly recognize Frank McWorter.
Similar legislation was introduced earlier this year in the United States House.
The House Committee on Natural Resources unanimously passed the New Philadelphia National Historic Site Act in July, a bill introduced in February by Representative Darin LaHood.
LaHood and New Philadelphia Association president Phil Bradshaw both testified in April before the committee’s National Parks, Forests and Public Lands subcommittee in support of legislation that will help more people see and understand New Philadelphia, where African Americans and European Americans lived and worked together.
The population of New Philadelphia peaked in 1865 with 29 households and 160 people.
âIt was an integrated city before the Civil War,â Corton said. “It is also a wonderful and positive example of people living together and working for their own common goals and to help others gain their freedom.”
In 1885, New Philadelphia lost its legal status as a city due to the population decline resulting from the bypass of the city by rail.
The city site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, designated as a National Historic Landmark, and included in the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad System to Freedom.
The National Park Service operates two other sites in Illinois: the Lincoln site in Springfield and the Pullman National Monument in Chicago.