We give a new presentation for the partition algebras. This presentation was discovered in the course of establishing an inductive formula for the partition algebra Jucys-Murphy elements defined by Halverson and Ram [European J. Combin. 26 (2005), 869-921]. Using Schur-Weyl duality we show that our recursive formula and the original definition of Jucys-Murphy elements given by Halverson and Ram are equivalent. The new presentation and inductive formula for the partition algebra Jucys-Murphy elements given in this paper are used to construct the seminormal representations for the partition algebras in a separate paper.