The Philadelphia mayoral election of 1881 saw Samuel G. King defeat three-term incumbent mayor William S. Stokley.
This would be the last time until 1951 that a Democrat would win the mayoralty of Philadelphia. It would also be the last time until 1911 that a Republican would fail to win the mayoralty.
The Philadelphia Republican establishment had not accepted Stokley as one of their own and prominent reformist Republicans such as Rudolph Blankenburg opposed Stokley for corruption.
After the influential Committee of One Hundred voted to endorse Stokley, Blankenburg and John Paul Verree resigned their memberships. The Committee reversed itself and endorsed King in the election.