"When the dawn ushered in the memorable year of 1861, the sinister clouds of the War between the States were hovering ominously over our land. The problems of slavery and States' Rights threatened to disrupt our nation, and our beloved President, Abraham Lincoln, was devotedly trying to avert the rapidly approaching catastrophe. Under such conditions the Philadelphia Drug Exchange was born." *

The Philadelphia Drug Exchange was created out of necessity in that the exchange or bartering of goods had to replace jealousy and enmity among the merchants in order to survive the upcoming conflict. Accordingly, twenty-one representatives of the wholesale drug and chemical manufacturers industry in Philadelphia met at the Merchants Hotel in Philadelphia to organize a "Society" for the purpose of establishing a "more direct association with each other". That is how this organization, now named PDE, was started.

The members of this "Society" later considered the most important function to be the influencing of the legislature - national, state and local whenever it was deemed appropriate. As an example, the first special meeting was held for the purpose of examining the merits of the Morrill Tariff Bill. One of the recommendations to come out of this meeting was that the duty on opium be reduced from $1.25 to $.75 per pound.

Second in importance to the early organization was the "fulfillment of its originally stated function to promote friendship and fraternal cooperation between its members. These functions may be said to have begun on November 6, 1865, when the Board voted to provide $100.00 for "entertainment" and a "collation" at its coming annual meeting, specifying, however, that "no whiskey or brandy" was to be included in the menu".

Space does not permit the recounting of most events over the years but influencing legislative matters was the number one priority over the first one hundred years. Subsequently, because the "distance" between the local organization and the influence centers has lengthened plus the emergence of corporate legislative affairs departments and influential national organizations, the PDE's legislative influencing efforts has ceased.

The focus today is the establishment of value programs for PDE's membership as well as continuing to build its scholarship programs, long since beneficial to many students. Starting with the oldest program, the pharmacy school student awards, the program has grown to include four awards to children of member company employees and the support of a Delaware Valley science competition for grade school to high school students.

Today, 147 years after its founding, the PDE's Mission Statement "an organization dedicated to the advancement of its membership by providing a forum of interaction, communication and education" reflects well a distinct part of the founders' intent.

* Excerpts from "A Brief History of the First One Hundred Years of the Philadelphia Drug Exchange.