Philadelphia Republican boss William Vare, October 27, 1928.
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William Vare sits at a desk, pen in hand, while others stand behind him appearing to be awaiting his signature.

Credit: Courtesy of Temple University, Urban Archives, Philadelphia, Pa.

In the 1910s and 1920s William H. Vare (1867-1934) was one of the most powerful men in Pennsylvania. The undisputed leader of the Republican party in Philadelphia, he won his greatest victory with election to the United States Senate in 1926. The Senate, however, denied Vare his seat after Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot filed charges of election fraud. When this photo was taken in October 1928, Vare was in poor health – he had suffered a stroke that August – and his leadership under attack in Philadelphia. During the Great Depression, Republicans retained their control of Philadelphia city government, but their power was no longer absolute. In 1936, a majority of Philadelphians voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, supporting a Democrat for president for the first time since 1864.

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