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Original Mission Statement

The longevity of Seventy is partially a product of its clearly stated and carefully reasoned goals. In order to pave the way for an organized and efficient organization, the Committee created a clear mission statement in 1904. The statement included four important goals: 

1. Protect the ballot through vigorous enforcement of State election laws, and by working to improve the voting and registration process.

2. Work for the election of City officials devoted to the public interest, regardless of their political affiliations.

3. Aid honest city officials in the performance of their duties.

4. Gather and disseminate accurate, non-partisan information on municipal affairs.

It seems that Seventy’s goals were more a matter of rekindling civic concern and involvement in Philadelphia than a matter of legislative change or investigation and litigation. 

There are several reasons why there was a need for the Committee of Seventy to form. By many accounts, Philadelphia was the worst-governed city in the United States at the turn of the century. The Republican Machine ruled politics and government. Public elections were routinely bought and sold. The fraud, graft, and political favoritism that riddled the City's government were publicized nationwide when muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens published his expose, " Philadelphia : Corrupt and Contented" in 1903. Existing civic organizations were unable to limit the corruption. In reaction to the deplorable condition of government which prevailed in Philadelphia , a group of business and community leaders formed the Committee of Seventy to fight for civic reform. Seventy was a product of a town meeting on November 14, 1904 that brought together the reform spirit of Philadelphia , to dramatically improve Philadelphia ’s political climate. The meeting, which was held in the Bourse building, was attended by many prominent Philadelphians, such as Calvert, Strawbridge and Fels. Also in attendance were members of the Municipal League, which was, at that time, one of Philadelphia ’s oldest reform organizations.