RETURNING from our late visit at the south, we called at Philadelphia, and in company with brethren Trott, Leachman, Conklin, Doland, and others, passed through those parts of the city which show the most melancholy marks of the violence of the late riots. About one hundred buildings had been destroyed, including two of the most magnificent houses of public worship in the city, and one Catholic seminary; the balance of those heaps of ruins had been the peaceable residences of about two hundred families of, generally, the poorer classes of the Catholics. Of these families we are told some are believed to have perished in the flames, not being allowed by the infuriated mob to leave their burning houses; some of those who were so fortunate as to escape the fury of the conflagration were shot down in the streets by professedly Protestant Native Americans, and others, including males and females, infants and hoary headed, decrepit and infirm, fled to the neighboring woods, where some of them remained, without shelter, without succor, without bread, and without sympathy, for several days and nights, being afraid to show themselves to their enraged persecutors.
What a paragraph must a faithful record of this affair present in the history of the nineteenth century! Should it not be written in letters of blood, to show in future generations that the Protestants, when in the ascendency of might, can be as cruel, as revengeful and as desperate as Pagans or Papists of any country?
Oh, the hypocrisy of these wolves in sheep’s clothing! Who, under the base and wicked pretence of zeal for the bible, of love for liberty, and ardent desire for the good of mankind, could for eight or ten weeks labor with the most indefatigable zeal and perseverance to bring about those painful, disgraceful, and heartrending scenes. Well did they shudder at the sight of those fearful words which were left perfectly legible upon the walls of the ruined building, “THE LORD SEETH,” and cause the same to be erased. The same consciousness of burning guilt, which caused the knees of Belshazzar to smite one against the other, led them to build a screen before the walls of St. Augustines, and hide their guilty faces, but no erasure of the writing on the wall, or fencing built before the house can hide their wickedness from the scrutiny of an avenging God. “THE LORD SEETH.”
New Vernon, N.Y.,
July 1, 1844
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 458 – 459