Philadelphia Congressman William S. Vare, 1923.
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A man standing outdoors in front of a government building

Credit: Library of Congress

The son of a South Philadelphia pig farmer, Bill Vare was the youngest of three brothers who ran the city of Philadelphia in the early 1900s through its powerful Republican party. Working through what he called the "most perfect party organization in the world," Vare controlled the city by providing "personal services" to constituents who ranged from newly arrived immigrants in Philadelphia's river wards to the powerful Pennsylvania Railroad.

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