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Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
September 16, 2020

           "Whereas a great number of the inhabitants of the county of Philadelphia by their petition have humbly represented to the Assembly of this State the great inconvenience they labor under by reason of their distance from the seat of judicature In the said county."

Passing the Voorhees Act would have annexed Montgomery and Delaware Counties into

the city of Philadelphia.  State legislators could have approved the move to bail the city

out of financial distress putting the financial burden on those counties alone instead of

the state.  Approval by the residents of the affected counties was not required at the time.      

 

            With those words, Montgomery County was created from Philadelphia County in 1784.  The Act gave the inhabitants of the newly created county the opportunity to "have and enjoy all and singular the jurisdictions, powers, rights, liberties, and privileges whatsoever which the inhabitants of any other county in this State do, may, or ought to enjoy by any charter of privileges, or the laws of this State, or by any other ways and means whatsoever."

            But, back in 1941, there was an attempt by a state representative from Philadelphia to take the county back.

            The financial pressures of the Great Depression were somewhat eased by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program and the increase in industrial production as our nation prepared for war. 

            In 1941 Pennsylvania State Representative Charles E. Voorhees, of Philadelphia, came up with a scary idea to render financial aid to the cash strapped City of Brotherly Love.  He introduced the "Voorhees Act" to the state assembly.  The proposed legislation would annex Montgomery County and Delaware County to Philadelphia.

            This was at a time when Montgomery County was experiencing a period of financial stability under the leadership of county commissioners Fred Peters, Foster Hillegass and Raymond Mensch.  They were outraged at the suggestion that the county become part of Philadelphia. 

Montgomery County Commissioner and Pennsburg native

Foster C. Hillegass (left) was among the many elected offic- 

ials from the county who fervently opposed the "Voorhees

Act" proposed by State Representative Charles E. Voorhees

 of Philadelphia (right).

            Hillegass, an Upper Perkiomen Valley native, and his fellow commissioners were responsible for instituting the "pay as you go" policy that proved tremendously successful in balancing the county's budget. 

            That policy also allowed the commissioners to cut the county tax from three mills in 1937, to one-and-a-half mills in 1943.  Montgomery County leaders had a reputation for ...



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