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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KIRK. Mr. President, I am pleased to join with Senator Durbin to introduce a bill in support of New Philadelphia, the first town founded by a freed African-American. This bipartisan legislation directs the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of New Philadelphia to determine the feasibility of designating the area as a unit of the National Park System.

In 1836, Frank McWorter platted and officially registered the town of New Philadelphia, the first known town founded by a freed African-American before the Civil War. After saving money from neighboring labor jobs to purchase his own freedom and the freedom of fifteen additional family members, Mr. McWorter purchased a plot of land between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers in Pike County to establish New Philadelphia. The town became a station along the Underground Railroad and was a community where European-American, freeborn African-Americans and formerly enslaved individuals were able to live together during a time of intense racial strife.

In 2005, the town of New Philadelphia was designated as a National Historic Place and in 2009 the town was designated a National Historic Landmark. Further designating New Philadelphia as a unit of the National Park System will ensure that its historical legacy is preserved as an inspiring example of freedom and opportunity for future generations.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.


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