CHAPTER IV.

THE NEGRO IN PHILADELPHIA, 1820 - 1896.

10. Fugitives and Foreigners, 1820-1840.--Five social developments made the decades from 1820 to 1840 critical for the nation and for the Philadelphia Negroes; first, the impulse of the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century; second, the reaction and recovery succeeding the War of 1812; third, the rapid increase of foreign immigration; fourth, the increase of free Negroes and fugitive slaves, especially in Philadelphia; fifth, the rise of the Abolitionists and the slavery controversy.

Philadelphia was the natural gateway between the North and the South, and for a long time there passed through it a stream of free Negroes and fugitive slaves toward the North, and of recaptured Negroes and kidnapped colored persons toward the South. By 1820 the northward stream increased, occasioning bitterness on the part of the South, and leading to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1820, and the counter acts of Pennsylvania in 1826 and 1827.1 During this time new installments of Pennsylvania freedmen, and especially their children, began to flock to Philadelphia. At the same time the stream of foreign immigration to this country began to swell, and by 1830 aggregated half a million souls annually. The result of these movements proved disastrous to the Philadelphia Negro; the better classes of them--theJoneses, Allens and Fortens--could not escape into the mass of white population and leave the new Negroes to fight out their battles with the foreigners. No distinction was drawn between Negroes, least of all by the new Southern families who now made Philadelphia their home and were not unnaturally stirred to unreasoning prejudice by the slavery agitation.

To this was added a fierce economic struggle, a renewal of the fight of the eighteenth century against Negro workmen. The new industries attracted the Irish, Germans and other immigrants; Americans, too, were flocking to the city, and soon to natural race antipathies was added a determined effort to displace Negro labor--an effort which had the aroused prejudice of many of the better classes, and the poor quality of the new black immigrants to give it aid and comfort. To all this was soon added a problem of crime and poverty. Numerous complaints of petty thefts, house-breaking, and assaults on peaceable citizens were traced to certain classes of Negroes. In vain did the better class, led by men like Forten, protest by public meetings their condemnation of such crime 2 ; the tide had set against the Negro strongly, and the whole period from 1820 to 1840 became a time of retrogression for the mass of the race, and of discountenance and repression from the whites.

By 1830 the black population of the city and districts had increased to 15,694, an increase of 27 per cent for the decade 1820 to 1830, and of 48 per cent since 1810. Nevertheless, the growth of the city had far outstripped this; by 1830 the county had nearly 175,000 whites,among whom was a rapidly increasing contingent of 5000 foreigners. So intense was the race antipathy among the lower classes, and so much countenance did it receive from the middle and upper class, that there began, in 1829, a series of riots directed chiefly against Negroes, which recurred frequently until about 1840, and did not wholly cease until after the war. These riots were occasioned by various incidents, but the underlying cause was the same: the simultaneous influx of freedmen, fugitives and foreigners into a large city, and the resulting prejudice, lawlessness, crime and poverty. The agitation of the Abolitionists was the match that lighted this fuel. In June and July, 1829, Mrs. Fanny Wright Darusmont, a Scotch woman, gave a number of addresses in Philadelphia, in which she boldly advocated the emancipation of the Negroes and something very like social equality of the races. This created great excitement throughout the city, and late in the fall the first riot against the Negroes broke out, occasioned by some personal quarrel.3

The Legislature had proposed to stop the further influx of Southern Negroes by making free Negroes carry passes and excluding all others; the arrival of fugitives from the Southampton massacre was the occasion of this attempt, and it was with difficulty that the friends of the Negro prevented its passage.4 Quakers hastened to advise against the sending of fugitives to the State, " as the effects of such a measure would probably be disastrous to the peace and comfort of the whole colored population of Pennsylvania." Edward Bettle declared in 1832: " The public mind here is more aroused even among respectable persons than it has been for several years," and he feared that the laws of 1826 and 1827 would be repealed, " thus leaving kidnappers free scope for their nefarious labors."5

In 1833 a demonstration took place against the Abolitionists, and in 1834 serious riots occurred. One night in August a crowd of several hundred boys and men, armed with clubs, marched down Seventh street to the Pennsylvania Hospital. They were joined by others, and all proceeded to some places of amusement where many Negroes were congregated, on South street, near Eighth. Here the rioting began, and four or five hundred people engaged in a free street fight. Buildings were torn down and inmates assaulted on Bedford and St. Mary streets and neighboring alleys, until at last the policemen and constables succeeded in quieting the tumult. The respite, however, was but temporary. The very next night the mob assembled again at Seventh and Bainbridge; they first wrecked a Negro church and a neighboring house, then attacked some twenty Negro dwellings; " great excesses are represented as having been committed by the mob, and one or two scenes of a most revolting character are said to have taken place." That the riots occurred by prearranged plan was shown by the signals--lights in windows--by which the houses of the whites were distinguished and those of the Negroes attacked and their inmates assaulted and beaten. Several persons were severely injured in this night's work and one Negro killed, before the mayor and authorities dispersed the rioters.

The next night the mob again assembled in another part of the city and tore down another Negro church. By this time the Negroes began to gather for self-defence, and about one hundred of them barricaded themselves in a building on Seventh street, below Lombard, where a howling mob of whites soon collected The mayor induced the Negroes to withdrew, and the riot ended. In this three days' uprising thirty-one houses and two churches were destroyed and Stephen James " an honest, industrious colored man" killed. 6

The town meeting of September 15 condemned the riots and voted to reimburse the sufferers, but also took occasion to condemn the impedirg of justice by Negroes when any of their number was arrested, and also the noise made in Negro churches. The fires smouldered for about a year, but burst forth again on the occasion of the murder of his master by a Cuban slave, Juan. The lower classes were aroused and a mob quickly assembled at the corners of Sixth and Seventh and Lombard streets, and began the work of destruction and assault, until finally it ended by setting fire to a row of houses on Eighth street, and fighting off the firemen. The following night the mob met again and attacked a house on St. Mary street, where an armed body of Negroes had barricaded themselves. The mayor and recorder finally arrived here and after severely lecturing the Negroes (!) induced them to depart. The whole of the afternoon of that day black women and children fled from the city.7

Three years now passed without serious disturbance, although the lawless elements which had gained such a foothold were still troublesome. In 1838 two murders were committed by Negroes--one of whom was acknowledged to be a lunatic. At the burial of this one's victim, rioting again began, the mob assembling on Passyunk avenue and Fifth street and marching up Fifth. The same scenes were re-enacted but finally the mob was broken up.8 Later the same year, on the dedication of Pennsylvania Hall, which was designed to be a centre of anti-slavery agitation, the mob, encouraged by the refusal of the mayor to furnish adequate police protection,burned the hall to the ground and the next night burned the Shelter for Colored Orphans at Thirteenth and Callowhill streets, and damaged Bethel Church, on Sixth street.9

The last riot of this series took place in 1842 when a mob devastated the district between Fifth and Eighth streets, near Lombard street, assaulted and beat Negroes and looted their homes, burned down a Negro hall and a church; the following day the rioting extended to the section between South and Fitzwater streets and was finally quelled by calling out the militia with artillery.10

While these riots were taking place a successful effort was made to deprive free Negroes of the right of suffrage which they had enjoyed nearly fifty years. In 1836 a case came before the court of a Negro who had been denied the right of voting. The court decided in a peculiar decision that free Negroes were not "freemen" in the language of the constitution and, therefore that Negroes could not vote.11 The reform convention settled the matter by inserting the word "white" in the qualifications for election in the Constitution of 1837.12 The Negroes protested earnestly by meetings and appeals. "We appeal to you" said they, "from the decision of the 'Reform Convention,' which has stripped us of a right peaceably enjoyed during forty-seven years under the constitution of this commonwealth. We honor Pennsylvania and her noble institutions too much to part with our birthright, as her free citizens, without a struggle. To all her citizens the right of suffrage is valuable in proportion as she is free; but surely there are none who can so ill afford to spare it as ourselves." Nevertheless the right was lost, for the appeal fell on deaf ears.13

A curious comment on human nature is this change of public opinion in Philadelphia between 1790 and 1837. No one thing explains it--it arose from a combination of circumstances. If, as in 1790, the new freedmen had been given peace and quiet and abundant work to develop sensible and aspiring leaders, the end would have been different; but a mass of poverty-stricken, ignorant fugitives and ill-trained freedmen had rushed to the city, swarmed in the vile slums which the rapidly growing city furnished, and met in social and economic competition equally ignorant but more vigorous foreigners. These foreigners outbid them at work, beat them on the streets, and were enabled to do this by the prejudice which Negro crime and the anti-slavery sentiment had aroused in the city.

Notwithstanding this the better class of Negroes never gave up. Their school increased in attendance; their churches and benevolent societies increased; they held public meetings of protest and sympathy. And twice, in 1831 and 1833, there assembled in the city a general convention of the free Negroes of the country, representing five to eight States, which, among other things, sought to interest philanthropists of the city in the establishment of a Negro industrial school.14 When the Legislature showed a disposition in 1832 to curtail the liberties of Negroes, the Negroes held a mass meeting and memorialized the lawmaking body and endeavored to show that all Negroes were not criminals and paupers; they declared that while the Negroes formed eight per cent of the population they furnished but four per cent of the paupers; that by actually produced tax receipts they could show that Negroes held at least $350,000 of taxable property in the city. Moreover, they said, "Notwithstanding the difficulty of getting places for our sons to learn mechanical trades, owing to the prejudices with which we have to contend, there are between four and five hundred people of color who follow mechanical employments."15 In 1837 the census of the Abolition Society claimed for the Negroes 1724 children in school, $309,626 of unencumbered property, 16 churches and 100 benevolent societies.

11. The Guild of the Caterers, 1840-1870.--The outlook for the Negro in Philadelphia about 1840 was not encouraging. The last of the first series of riots took place in 1842, and has been mentioned. The authorities were wakened to their duty by this last outbreak of barbarism, and for several years the spirit of lawlessness, which now extended far beyond the race question and seriously threatened the good name of the city, was kept within control. However, in 1849, a mob set upon a mulatto who had a white wife, at the corner of Sixth street and St. Mary's, and there ensued a pitched battle for a night and a day; firemen fought with firemen; the blacks, goaded to desperation, fought furiously; houses were burned and firearms used, with the result that three white men and one Negro were killed and twenty-five wounded persons taken to the hospital. The militia was twice called before the disturbance was quelled. These riots and the tide of prejudice and economic proscription drove so many Negroes from the city that the black population actually showed a decrease in the decade 1840-50. Worse than this, the good name of the Negroes in the city had been lost through the increased crime and the undeniably frightful condition of the Negro slums. The foreign element gained all the new employments which the growing industries of the State opened, and competed for the trades and common vocations. The outlook was certainly dark.

It was at this time that there arose to prominence and power as remarkable a trade guild as ever ruled in a mediaeval city. It took complete leadership of the bewildered group of Negroes, and led them steadily on to a degree of affluence, culture and respect such as has probably never been surpassed in the history of the Negro in America. This was the guild of the caterers, and its masters include names which have been household words in the city for fifty years: Bogle, Augustin, Prosser, Dorsey, Jones and Mintou. To realize just the character of this new economic development we must not forget the economic history of the slaves. At first they were wholly house servants or field hands. As city life in the colony became more important, some of the slaves acquired trades, and thus there arose a class of Negro artisans. So long as the pecuniary interests of a slaveholding class stood back of these artisans the protests of white mechanics had little effect; indeed it is probable that between 1790 and 1820 a very large portion, and perhaps most, of the artisans of Philadelphia were Negroes. Thereafter, however, the sharp competition of the foreigners and the demand for new sorts of skilled labor of which the Negro was ignorant, and was not allowed to learn, pushed the black artisans more and more to the wall. In 1837 only about 350 men out of a city population of 10,500 Negroes, pursued trades, or about one in every twenty adults.

The question, therefore, of obtaining a decent livelillood was a pressing one for the better class of Negroes. The masses of the race continued to depend upon domestic service, where they still had a practical monopoly, and upon common labor, where they had some competition from the Irish. To the more pushing and energetic Negroes only two courses were open: to enter into commercial life in some small way, or to develop certain lines of home service into a more independent and lucrative employment. In this latter way was the most striking advance made; the whole catering business, arising from au evolution shrewdly, persistently and tastefully directed, transformed the Negro cook and waiter into the public caterer and restaurateur, and raised a crowd of underpaid menials to become a set of self-reliant, original business men, who amassed fortunes for themselves and won general respect for their people.

The first prominent Negro caterer was Robert Bogle, who, early in the century, conducted an establishment on Eighth street, near Sansom. In his day he was one of the best known characters of Philadelphia, and virtually created the business of catering in the city.16 As the butler or waiter in a private family arranged the meals and attended the family on ordinary occasions, so the public waiter came to serve different families in the same capacity at larger and more elaborate functions; he was the butler of the smart set, and his taste of hand and eye and palate set the fashion of the day. This functionary filled a unique place in a time when social circles were very exclusive, and the millionaire and the French cook had not yet arrived. Bogle's place was eventually taken by Peter Augustin, a West Indian immigrant, who started a business in 1818 which is still carried on. It was the Augustin establishment that made Philadelphia catering famous all over the country. The best families of the city, and the most distinguished foreign guests, were served by this caterer. Other Negroes soon began to crowd into the field thus opened. The Prossers, father and son, were prominent among these, perfecting restaurant catering and making many famous dishes. Finally came the triumvirate Jones, Dorsey and Minton, who ruled the fashionable world from 1845-1875. Of these Dorsey was the most unique character; with little education but great refinement of manner, he became a man of real weight in the community, and associated with many eminent men. "He had the sway of an imperial dictator. When a Democrat asked his menial service he refused, because 'he could not wait on a party of persons who were disloyal to the government, and Lincoln'--pointing to the picture in his reception rooms--'was the government.' " 17 Jones was Virginia born, and a man of great care and faithfulness. He catered to families in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.18 Minton, the younger of the three, long had a restaurant at Fourth and Chestnut, and became, as the others did, moderately wealthy.19

Such men wielded great personal influence, aided the Abolition cause to no little degree, and made Philadelphia noted for its cultivated and well-to-do Negro citizens. Their conspicuous success opened opportunities for Negroes in other lines. It was at this time that Stephen Smith amassed a very large fortune as a lumber merchant, with which he afterward handsomely endowed a home for aged and infirm Negroes. Whipper, Vidal and Purnell were associated with Smith at different times. Still and Bowers were coal merchants and Adger was in the furniture business. There were also some artists of ability: Bowser, who painted a portrait of Lincoln, and Douglass and Burr; Johnson, the leader of a famous colored band and a composer. 20

During this time of effort, advance and assimilation the Negro population increased but slowly, for the economic struggle was too earnest for young and indiscriminate marriages, and immigrants had been frightened away by the riots. In 1840 there were 19,833 Negroes in the county, and ten years later, as has been noted, there were only 19,761. For the next decade there was a moderate increase to 22,185, when the war brought a slight decrease, leaving the Negro population 22,147 in 1870. Meantime the white population had increased by leaps and bounds:

 

POPULATION OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, 1840-1870.

Date. Whites. Negroes.
1840 238,204 19,833
1850 389,001 19,761
1860 543,344 22,185
1870 651,854 22,147

In 1810 the Negroes had formed nearly one-tenth of the total population of the city, but in 1870 they formed but little over one thirty-third, the lowest proportion ever reached in the history of Philadelphia.

The general social condition showed some signs of improvement from 1840 on. In 1847 there were 1940 Negro children in school; the Negroes held, it was said, about $400,000 in real estate and had 19 churches and 106 benevolent societies. The mass of the race were still domestic servants--about 4000 of the 11,000 in the city proper being thus employed, a figure which probably meant a considerable majority of the adults. The remainder were chiefly employed as laborers, artisans, coachmen, expressmen and barbers.

The habitat of the Negro population changed somewhat in this period. About 1790 one-fourth of the Negroes lived between Vine and Market and east of Ninth; onehalf between Market and South, mostly in the alleys bounded by Lombard, Fifth, Eighth and South; one-eighth lived below South, and one-eighth in the Northern Liberties. Many of these, of course, lived in white families. In 1837 a quarter of the Negroes were in white families, a little less than one-half were in the city limits centring at Sixth and Lombard or thereabouts; a tenth lived in Moyamensing, a twentieth in the Northern Liberties, and the remaining part in Kensington and Spring Garden districts. The riots concentrated this population somewhat, and in 1847, of the 20,000 Negroes in the county, only 1300 lived north of Vine and east of Sixth. The rest were in the city proper, in Moyamensing and in Southwark. Moyamensing was the worst slum district: between South and Fitzwater and Fifth and Eighth there were crowded 302 families in narrow, filthy alleys. Here was concentrated the worst sort of depravity, poverty, crime and disease. The present slums at Seventh and Lombard are bad and dangerous, but they are decent compared with those of a half century ago. The Negroes furnished one-third of all the commitments for crime in 1837, and one-half in 1847.

Beginning with 1850 the improvement of the Negro was more rapid. The value of real estate held was estimated to have doubled between 1847 and 1856. The proportion of men in the trades remained stationary; there were 2321 children in school. Toward the time of the outbreak of war the feeling toward the Negro in certain classes softened somewhat, and his staunch friends were enabled to open many benevolent institutions; in many ways a disposition to help them was manifested: the newspapers treated them with more respect, and they were not subject so frequently to personal insult on the street.

They were still kept off the street cars in spite of energetic protest. Indeed, not until 1867 was a law passed prohibiting this discrimination. Judicial decisions upheld the railways for a long time, and newspapers and public opinion supported them. When by Judge Allison's decision the attitude of the courts was changed, and damages granted an evicted Negro, the railway companies often side-tracked and left cars which colored passengers had entered. Separate cars were run for them on some lines, and in 1865 a public ballot on the cars was taken to decide the admission of Negroes. Naturally the conductors returned a large majority against any change. Finally, after public meetings, pamphlets and repeated agitation, the prospective enfranchisement of the freedmen gained what decency and common sense had long refused.21

Steps toward raising Negro troops in the city were taken in 1863, as soon as the efficiency of the Negro soldier had been proven. Several hundred prominent citizens petitioned the Secretary of War and were given permission to raise Negro regiments. The troops were to receive no bounties, but were to have $10 a month and rations. They were to rendezvous at Camp William Penn, Chelten Hills. A mass meeting was soon held attended by the prominent caterers, teachers and merchants, together with white citizens, at which Frederick Douglass, W. D. Kelley and Anna Dickinson spoke. Over $30,000 was raised in the city by subscription, and the first squad of soldiers went into camp June 26, 1863. By December, three regiments were full, and by the next February, five. The first three regiments, known as the Third, Sixth and Eighth United States Regiments of Colored Troops, went promptly to the front, the Third being before Fort Wagner when it fell. The other regiments followed as called, leaving still other Negroes anxious to enlist.22

After the war and emancipation great hopes were entertained by the Negroes for rapid advancement, and nowhere did they seem better founded than in Philadelphia. The generation then in its prime had lived down a most intense and bitter race feud and had gained the respect of the better class of whites. They started with renewed zeal, therefore, to hasten their social development.

12. The Influx of the Freedmen, 1870-1896.--The period opened stormily, on account of the political rights newly conferred on black voters. Philadelphia city politics have ever had a shady side,but when it seemed manifest that one political party, by the aid of Negro votes, was soon to oust the time-honored incumbents, all the lawless elements which bad city government for a half-century had nurtured naturally fought for the old regime. They found this the easier since the city toughs were largely Irish and hereditary enemies of the blacks. In the spring elections of 1871 there was so much disorder, and such poor police protection, that the United States marines were called on to preserve order.23

In the fall elections street disorders resulted in the coldblooded assassination of several Negroes, among whom was an estimable young teacher, Octavius V. Catto. The murder of Catto came at a critical moment; to the Negroes it seemed a revival of the old slavery-time riots in the day when they were first tasting freedom; to the better classes of Philadelphia it revealed a serious state of barbarism and lawlessness in the second city of the land; to the politicians it furnished a text and example which was strikingly effective and which they did not hesitate to use. The result of all this was an outburst of indignation and sorrow, which was remarkable, and which showed a determined stand for law and order. The outward expression of this was a great mass meeting, attended by some of the best citizens, and a funeral for Catto which was perhaps the most imposing ever given to an American Negro.24

This incident, and the general expression of opinion after the war, showed a growing liberal spirit toward the Negro in Philadelphia. There was a disposition to grant him, within limits, a man's chance to make his way in the world; he had apparently vindicated his right to this in war, and his ability for it in peace. Slowly, but surely, therefore, the community was disposed to throw off the trammels, brush away petty hindrances and to soften the harshness of race prejudice, at least enough to furnish the new citizen the legal safeguards of a citizen and the personal privileges of a man. By degrees the restrictions on personal liberty were relaxed; the street cars, which for many years had sought by every species of proscription to get rid of colored passengers or carry them on the platform, were finally compelled by law to cancel such rules; the railways and theatres rather tardily followed, and finally even the schools were thrown open to all.25 A deep-rooted and determined prejudice still remained, but it showed signs of yielding.

It cannot be denied that the main results of the development of the Philadelphia Negro since the war have on the whole disappointed his well-wishers. They do not pretend that he has not made great advance in certain lines, or even that in general he is not better off to-day than formerly. They do not even profess to know just what his condition to-day is, and yet there is a widespread feeling that more might reasonably have been expected in the line of social and moral development than apparently has been accomplished. Not only do they feel that there is a lack of positive results, but the relative advance compared with the period just before the war is slow, if not an actual retrogression; an abnormal and growing amount of crime and poverty can justly be charged to the Negro; he is not a large taxpayer, holds no conspicuous place in the business world or the world of letters, and even as a working man seems to be losing ground. For these reasons those who, for one purpose and another, are anxiously watching the development of the American Negro desire to know first how far these general impressions are true, what the real condition of the Negro is and what movements would best be undertaken to improve the present situation. And this local problem is after all but a small manifestation of the larger and similar Negro problems throughout the land.

For such ends the investigation, the results of which are here presented, was undertaken. This is not the first time such a study has been attempted. In 1837, 1847 and 1856 studies were made by the Abolition Society and the Friends and much valuable data procured.26 The United States censuses have also added to our general knowledge, and newspapers have often interested themselves in the matter. Unfortunately, however, the Friends' investigations are not altogether free from a suspicion of bias in favor of the Negro, the census reports are very general and newspaper articles necessarily hurried and inaccurate. This study seeks to cull judiciously from all these sources and others, and to add to them specially collected data for the years 1896 and 1897.

Before, however, we enter upon the consideration of this matter, we must bring to mind four characteristics of the period we are considering: (1) The growth of Philadelphia; (2) the increase of the foreign population in the city; (3) the development of the large industry and increase of wealth, and (4) the coming in of the Southern freedmen's sons and daughters. Even Philadelphians hardly realize that the population of their staid old city has nearly doubled since the war, and that consequently it is not the same place, has not the same spirit, as formerly; new men, new ideas, new ways of thinking and acting have gained some entrance; life is larger, competition fiercer, and conditions of economic and social survival harder than formerly. Again, while there were perhaps 125,000 foreign born persons in the city in 1860, there are 260,000 now, not to mention the children of the former born here. These foreigners have come in to divide with native Americans the industrial opportunities of the city, and have thereby intensified competition. Thirdly, new methods of conducting business and industry are now rife: the little shop, the small trader, the house industry have given way to the department store, the organized company and the factory. Manufacturing of all kinds has increased by leaps and bounds in the city, and to-day employs three times as many men as in 1860, paying three hundred millions annually in wages; hacks and expressmen have turned into vast inter-urban businesses: restaurants have become palatial hotels--the whole face of business is being gradually transformed. Finally, into this rapid development have precipitated themselves during the last twenty years fifteen thousand immigrants, mostly from Maryland, Virginia and Carolina--untrained and poorly educated countrymen, rushing from the hovels of the country or the cottages of country towns, suddenly into the new, strange life of a great city to mingle with 25,000 of their race already there. What has been the result ?

[NOTE.—There was a small riot in 1843 during the time of Mayor Swift. In 1832 began a series of literary societies--the Library Company, the Banneker Society, etc., --which did much good for many years. The first Negro newspaper of the city, the "Demosthenian Shield," appeared in 1840. Among men not already mentioned in this period should be noted the Rev. C. W. Gardner, Dr. J. Bias, the dentist, James McCrummell, and Sarah M. Douglass. All these were prominent Negroes of the day and had much influence. The artist, Robert Douglass, is the painter of a portrait of Fannie Kemble, which its Philadelphia owner to-day prefers to attribute to Thomas Dudley.]

ENDNOTES:

1 These laws were especially directed against kidnapping, and were designed to protect free Negroes. See Appendix B. The law of 1826 was declared unconstitutiohal in 1842 by the U. S. Supreme Court. See 16 Peters, 500 ff.

2 A meeting of Negroes held in 1822, at the A. M. E. Church, denounced crime and Negro criminals.

3 Scharf-Westcott's " History of Philadelphia," I, 824. There was at this time much lawlessness in the city which had no connection with the presence of Negroes, and which led to rioting and disorder in general. Cf. Price's " History of Consolidation."

4 Southampton was the scene of the celebrated Nat Turner insurrection of Negroes.

5 Letter to Nathan Mendelhall, of North Carolina.

6 Hazard's "Register," XIV, I , 126-28, 200-203.

7 Ibid., XVI. 35-38.

8 Scharf-Westcott's "Philadelphia," I, 654-55.

9 Price, " History of Consolidation," etc., Ch. VII. The county eventually paid $22,658.27, with interest and costs, for the destruction of the hall.

10 Scharf-Westcott, I, 660-61.

11 Case of Fogg vs. Hobbs, 6 Watts, 553-560. See Chapter XII.

12 See Chapter XII and Appendix B.

13 Appeal of 40,000 citizens, etc., Philadelphia, 1838. Written chiefly by the late Robert Purvis, son-in-law of James Forten.

14 See Minutes of Conventions; the school was to be situated in New Haven, but the New Haven authorities, by town meeting, protested so vehemently that the project had to be given up. Cf. also Hazard, V, 143.

15 Hazard's " Register," IX, 361-62.

16 Biddle's "Ode to Bogle," is a well-known squib; Bogle himself is credited with considerable wit. "You are of the people who walk in darkness," said a prominent clergyman to him once in a dimly lighted hall. "But," replied Bogle, bowing to the distinguished gentleman, " I have seen a great light."

17 See in PhiladelphiaTmes, October 17, 1896, the following notes by "Megargee:" Dorsey was one of the triumvirate of colored caterers—the other two being Henry Jones and Henry Minton--who some years ago might have been said to rule the social world of Philadelphia through its stomach. Time was when lobster salad, chicken croquettes, deviled crabs and terrapin composed the edible display at every big Philadelphia gathering, and none of those dishes were thought to be perfectly prepared unless they came from the hands of one of the three men named. Without making any invidious comparisons between those who were such masters of the gastronomic art, it can fairly be said that outside of his kitchen, Thomas J. Dorsey outranked the others. Although without schooling, he possessed a naturally refined instinct that led him to surround himself with both men and things of an elevating character. It was his proudest boast that at his table, in his Locust street residence, there had sat Charles Sumner, William Lloyd Garrison, John W. Forney, William D. Kelley and Fred Douglass. . . . Yet Thomas Dorsey had been a slave; had been held in bondage by a Maryland planter. Nor did he escape from his fetters until he had reached a man's estate. He fled to this city, but was apprehended and returned to his master. During his brief stay in Philadelphia, however, he made friends, and these raised a fund of sufficient proportion to purchase his freedom. As a caterer he quickly achieved both fame and fortune. His experience of the horrors of slavery had instilled him with an undying reverence for those champions of his down-trodden race, the old-time Abolitionists. He took a prominent part in all efforts to elevate his people, and in that way he came in close contact with Sumner, Garrison, Forney and others.

18 Henry Jones was in the catering business thirty years, and died September 24, 1875, leaving a cousiderable estate.

19 Henry Minton came from Nansemond County, Virginia, at the age of nineteen, arriving in Philadelphia in 1830. He was first apprenticed to a shoemaker, then went into a hotel as waiter. Finally he opened dining rooms at Fourth and Chesnut. He died March 20, 1883.

20 This band was in great demand at social functions, and its leader received a trumpet from Queen Victoria.

21 See Spiers' "Street Railway System of Philadelphia," pp. 23-27; also unpublished MS. of Mr. Bernheimer, on file among the senior theses in the Wharton School of Finance and Economy, University of Pennsylvania.

22 Pamphlet on " Enlistment of Negro Troops," Philadelphia Library.

23 Cf. Scharf-Westcott, I, 837.

24 The following account of an eye-witness, Mr. W. C. Bolivar, is from the Philadelphia Tribune, a Negro paper: "In the spring election preceding the murder of Octavius V. Catto, there was a good deal of rioting. It was at this election that the United States Marines were brought into play under the commaud of Col. James Forney. Their very presence had the salutary effect of preserving order. The handwriting of political disaster to the Democratic party was plainly noticed. This galled 'the unterrified,' and much of the rancor was owing to the fact that the Negro vote would guarantee Republican supremacy beyond a doubt. Even then Catto had a narrow escape through a bullet shot at Michael Maher, an ardent Republican, whose place of business was at Eighth and Lombard streets. This assault was instigated by Dr. Gilbert, whose paid or coerced hirelings did his bidding. The Mayor, D. M. Fox, was a mild, easygoing Democrat, who seemed a puppet in the hands of astute conscienceless men. The night prior to the day in question, October 10, 1871, a colored man named Gordon was shot down in cold blood on Eighth street. The spirit of mobocracy filled the air, and the object of its spleen seemed to have been the colored men. A cigar store kept by Morris Brown, Jr., was the resort of the Pythian and Banneker members, and it was at this place on the night prior to the murder that Catto appeared among his old friends for the last time. When the hour arrived for home going, Catto went the near and dangerous way to his residence, 814 South street, and said as he left, 'I would not stultify my manhood by going to my home in a roundabout way.' When he reached his residence he found one of its dwellers had his hat taken from him at a point around the corner. He went out and into one of the worst places in the Fourth Ward and secured it.

"Intimidation and assault began with the opening of the polls. The first victim was Levi Bolden, a playfellow, as a boy, with the chronicler of these notes. Whenever they could conveniently catch a colored man they forthwith proceeded to assail him. Later in the day a crowd forced itself into Emeline street and battered in the brains of Isaac Chase, going into his home, wreaking their spite on this defenceless man, in the presence of his family. The police force was Democratic, and not only stood idly by, but gave practical support. They took pains to keep that part of the city not in the bailiwick of the rioters from knowing anything of what was transpiring. Catto voted and went to school, but dismissed it after realizing the danger of keeping it open during the usual hours. Somewhere near 3 o'clock as he neared his dwelling, two or three men were seen to approach him from the rear, and one of them, supposed to have been either Frank Kelly or Reddy Dever, pulled out a pistol and pointed it at Catto. The aim of the man was sure, and Catto barely got around a street car before he fell. This occurred directly in front of a police station, into which he was carried. The news spread in every direction. The wildest excitement prevailed, and not only colored men, but those with the spirit of fair play, realized the gravity of the situation, with a divided sentiment as to whether they ought to make an assault on the Fourth Ward or take steps to preserve the peace. The latter prevailed, and the scenes of carnage, but a few hours back, when turbulence was supreme, settled down to an opposite state of almost painful calmness. The rioting during that day was in parts of the Fifth, Seventh and Fourth wards, whose boundary lines met. It must not be supposed that the colored people were passive when attacked, because the records show 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,' in every instance. No pen is graphic enough to detail the horrors of that day. Each home was in sorrow, and strong men wept like children, when they realized how much had been lost in the untimely death of the gifted Catto.

"Men who had sat quietly unmindful of things uot directly concerning themselves, were aroused to the gravity of the situation, wrought by the spirit of a mob, came out of their seclusion and took a stand for law and order. It was a righteous public sentiment that brought brute force to bay. The journals not only here, but the country over, with one voice condemned the lawless acts of October 10, 1871. Sympathetic public gatherings were held in many cities, with the keynote of condemnation as the only true one. Here in Philadelphia a meeting of citizens was held, from which grew the greater, held in National Hall, on Market street, below Thirteenth. The importance of this gathering is shown by a list its promoters. Samuel Perkins, Esq., called it to order, and the eminent Hon. Henry C. Carey presided. Among some of those in the list of vice-presidents were Hon. William M. Meredith, Gustavus S. Benson, Alex. Biddle, Joseph Harrison, George H. Stuart, J. Effingham Fell, George H. Boker, Morton McMichael, James L. Claghorn, F. C. and Benjamin H. Brewster, Thomas H. Powers, Hamilton Disston, William B. Mann, John W. Forney, John Price Wetherill, R. L. Ashhurst, William H. Kemble, William S. Stokley, Judge Mitchell, Generals Collis and Sickel, Congressmen Kelley, Harmer, Myers, Creely, O'Neill, Samuel H. Bell and hundreds more. These names represented the wealth, brains and moral excellence of this community. John Goforth, the eminent lawyer, read the resolutions, which were seconded in speeches by Hon. William B. Mann, Robert Purvis, Isaiah C. Weirs, Rev. J. Walker Jackson, Gen. C. H. T. Collis and Hon. Alex. K. McClure. These all breathed the same spirit, the condemnation of mob law and a demand for equal and exact justice to all. The speech of Col. McClure stands out boldly among the greatest forensic efforts ever known to our city. His central thought was 'the unwritten law,' which made an impression beyond my power to convey. In the meanwhile, smaller meetings were held in all parts of the city to record their earnest protest against the brute force of the day before. That was the end of disorder in a large scale here. On the sixteenth of October the funeral occurred. The body lay in state at the armory of the First Regiment, Broad and Race streets, and was guarded by the military. Not since the funeral cortege of President Lincoln had there been one as large or as imposing in Philadelphia. Outside of the Third Brigade, N. G. P., detached commands from the First Division, and the military from New Jersey, there were civic organizations by the hundreds from Philadelphia, to say nothing of various bodies from Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, New York and adjacent places. All the city offices were closed, beside many schools. City Councils attended in a body, the State Legislature was present, all the city employes marched in line, and personal friends came from far and near to testify their practical sympathy. The military was under the commaud of General Louis Wagner, and the civic bodies marshaled by Robert M. Adger. The pall-bearers were Lieutenant Colonel Ira D. Cliff, Majors John W. Simpson and James H. Grocker, Captains J. F. Needham and R. J. Burr, Lieutenants J. W. Diton, W. W. Morris and Dr. E. C. Howard, Major and Surgeon of the Twelfth Regiment. This is but a mere glance backward at the trying days of October, 1871, and is written to refresh the minds of men and women of that day, as well as to chronicle a bit of sad history that this generation may be informed. And so closed the career of a man of splendid equipment, rare force of character, whose life was so interwoven with all that was good about us, as to make it stand out in bold relief, as a pattern for those who have followed after."

25 Cf Appendix B.

26 See Appendix C. The inquiry of 1838 was by the Philadelphia Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the report was in two parts, one a register of trades and one a general report of forty pages. The Society of Friends, or the Abolition Society, undertook the inquiry of 1849, and published a pamphlet of forty-four pages. There was also the same year a report on the health of colored convicts. A pamphlet by Edward Needles was also published in 1849, comparing the Negroes in 1837 and 1848. Benjamin C. Bacon, at the instance of the Abolition Society, made the inquiry in 1856, which was published that year. In 1859, a second edition was issued with criminal statistics. All these pamphlets may be consulted at the Library Company of Philadelphia, or the Ridgway branch.

 


From W.E.B. DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro. New York: Lippincott, 1899, Chapter IV, pp. 25-45.


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