Do you remember the scene in the movie Out of Africa when Meryl Streep dared to cross the threshold and enter into the sacred, gentlemen-only, private men’s club in the British-colonialized Africa? That scene flashed through my mind several times when I, a Southern, female, nd aDemocrat visited The Union League of Philadelphia. Although the club has had female members for a couple of decades, I feel sure that there are few, if any, Southerners among its membership, and throughout the course of its existence, the Union League of Philadelphia has been an almost exclusively Republican organization. To say the least, I was out of my “League,” but I enjoyed the tour.
“The Union League of Philadelphia, founded in 1862 as a Patriotic Society to support the policies of Abraham Lincoln, is today a private members-only club.
“Founded by Philadelphia society, it remains a bastion of the elite; among its 3,300 members are leaders in business, academia, law, medicine, politics, religion and the arts. Members gather to socialize, dine, network, attend events, exercise and relax in the 1865 Second Empire-style building. The club is ranked first on the Five Star Platinum Club list.
“The Union League of Philadelphia is the oldest and most prominent of the remaining loyalty leagues. Founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to support the Union and the policies of President Abraham Lincoln, it laid the philosophical foundation of other Union Leagues across a nation torn by Civil War. It has given loyal support to the American military in all conflicts since. Its motto is ‘Love of Country Leads.’ ” Wikipedia
The walls of one of the building’s rooms are covered by the portraits of Republican presidents. The portrait of Andrew Jackson, however, also hangs in that room. Because he did not favor the the secession of the Southern states during the Civil War, he is honored in this otherwise Republican assembly.
Because the club was largely formed as a reaction against the politics surrounding the Civil War, the portrait of Ulysses S. Grant hangs at the Union League.
There are several portraits and sculptures of Lincoln throughout the building. This sculpture stands at the cener of the Lincoln room.
Other of the paintings and other artifacts have o do with the Amrican Revolution, with Ben Franklin, and with Philadelphia’s involvement in the forming of our nation.
The library is one of the most serene spots in the building.
But the entire building is magnificent.