History of the Citizens Republican Club of Philadelphia
During the late nineteenth century, prominent society members used clubs as a springboard for election to public office. Following this trend, Andrew Stevens, Sr., a caterer for the African-American elite in Philadelphia, founded the Citizens Republican Club of Philadelphia in 1884. Stevens, Sr. saw the founding of the Citizens Republican Club as a “way to do something for the one political party that had done something for his kind," reported the Philadelphia Tribune in a 1954 retrospective on the association.
The Citizens Republican Club in its early years specified genteel behaviors, including the prohibition of drinking and gambling on club premises, spending money on music or other entertainment, and the pursuit of public office among the club leaders. The rule disallowing office-seekers for the club leadership was quickly abandoned, and many leaders of the Citizens Republican Club began to seek positions in Philadelphia politics. According to a 1954 Philadelphia Tribune article on the Citizens Republican Club, “not only did they endorse their own members as candidates for office and work to elect them, but other clubs throughout the city fought for their endorsement as well.”
Members of the Citizens Republican Club were also members of the elite African-American community in Philadelphia. They were politicians, lawyers, businessmen, and bankers. Many of them worked towards equal rights in Philadelphia, and the advancement of African Americans in white-collar ventures. The capital and influence possessed by members of the Citizens Republican Club during the first half of the twentieth century allowed them to take a leading part in the moral, economic, and political development of the African-American community throughout Philadelphia.