Rudolph Blankenburg

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Rudolph Blankenburg
Portrait of Rudolph Blankenburg.jpg

Rudolph Blankenburg (February 16, 1843 – April 12, 1918) was a businessman and manufacturer, who became a politician and elected mayor of Philadelphia, leading a reform administration from 1912 to 1916.


Blankenburg was born in Hillentrup (now a district of Dörentrup), Lippe-Detmold (now Lippstadt), Germany, and educated there. He came to the United States in 1865 and began working as a salesman and then as a textile manufacturer. He also began associating with the Society of Friends. He became wealthy and retired from his business concerns in 1909.[1][2]

He married Lucretia Mott Longshore (8 May 1845 - 29 March 1937), April 18, 1867,[3] a Quaker and important reform activist, including women's suffrage.[4] He became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

He began taking an interest in civic improvement and reform politics in Philadelphia in 1877. He was elected county commissioner for Philadelphia in 1905, serving 1906-1909. He was then elected mayor of Philadelphia in 1911 on the Keystone-Democratic ticket; the coalition was organized to fight Republican corruption in the state and city. He was reelected mayor in 1913, and served as mayor 1912-1915.[1][3][5]

Because of his commitment to progressive reform, he was known as “The Old War Horse of Reform” and “The Dutch Cleanser.” He ended assessments by ward leaders of policemen, reorganized the civil service system to have it based on merit, gained passage by the legislature of a bill to enable the city to lease development of subway and transit lines, and worked for reform for 40 years as a political activist.[6]

In earlier years he was a worldwide traveler. He also became known by his numerous magazine and newspaper articles on social, economic and religious questions.[1] He died in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.



  1. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainRines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Blankenburg, Rudolph". Encyclopedia Americana. 
  2. ^ Clinton Rogers Woodruff (1936). "Blankenburg, Rudolph". Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 
  3. ^ a b Yearbook of the Pennsylvania Society of New York 1919. 1919. p. 172. 
  4. ^ Olive Hoogenboom (1999). "Blankenburg, Lucretia Longshore". American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  5. ^ A “fusion between the Democratic party and the Keystone party, which had been organized [in 1909] to combat alleged political corruption in State and city...” [The Story of Philadelphia. Joyce, J. St. George, ed. Harry B. Joseph:1919; p. 300.]
  6. ^ Rudolph Blankenburg Obituary, New York Times, April 13, 1918, accessed 29 March 2012

External links[edit]

  • George E. Mapes (26 May 1906). "An Uncompromising Fighter". The Outlook. LXXXIII: 220–223. 
  • Lucretia Longshore Blankenburg, The Blankenburgs of Philadelphia, 1928
Political offices
Preceded by
John E. Reyburn
Mayor of Philadelphia
Succeeded by
Thomas B. Smith