John Swift (politician)

John Swift (27 June 1790, in Philadelphia – 9 June 1873, in Philadelphia) was an American lawyer and politician and long-time mayor of Philadelphia. He was admitted to the bar in 1810. He was a leader of the Whigs of Philadelphia and served as mayor 1832–1838, 1839–1841, and 1845–1849. In 1840, Swift became the first mayor to be elected by popular election. He is buried at Christ Church Burial Ground.

Portrait of Swift

Personal life

John Swift was born in Philadelphia on January 21st, 1790, his father was Charles Swift, one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.[1] Swift graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 1808 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Swift married Mary Truxton, daughter of Commodore Thomas Truxton, on March 11th, 1808. Swift was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar five days later on March 16th, 1811.

Swift was elected a member of the State in Schuylkill, otherwise known as the Schuylkill Fishing Company on October 2nd, 1822. His name appears first in the charter granted by the commonwealth to the State in the Schuylkill on April 27th, 1838.

Military career

Swift was Captain of the second company of the Washington Guards during the War of 1812. Post-war Swift became a Colonel.

Mayor of Philadelphia

Swift served 12 years as a Mayor of Philadelphia over 3 terms. Swift won the first Philadelphia Mayoral election with popular vote on October 15th, 1839. The following year, on October 20th, 1840, Swift won the first Philadelphia Mayoral election purely decided by Popular vote.[2]


  1. Balch, Thomas Willing (1906). The Swift family of Philadelphia. Philadelphia.
  2. "Mayors of Philadelphia". Retrieved 2020-06-15.