South-hill, Bradford, co., Pa., Oct. 30, 1844
BROTHER BEEBE: – Please to accept a few of the cogitations of a cosmpolite, who has been favored with an account of the riots in Philadelphia, by one who professes to collect “the concurrent testimony of the entire Philadelphia press ofall parties, from 19 different news papers, which, on the guilty heads of the alien assassins.”
All parties. Should a cosmopolite be thought unworthy of notice, should he say that he has not confidence enough in his informant to believe him, in this one aided testimony? Though he says it is the concurrent testimony of the entirePhiladelphia press of all parties, yet when treating on another subject, he quotes from theRoman Catholic Herald, published in the city of Philadelphia, even as late as January 4, 1844. What could have become of this press so soon, unless the infuriated Native Americans, or their coadjutors had destroyed it with other houses, meeting houses, &c.? At any rate, he gives only the testimony of one of the parties in the riot. Not so much as a single peep is heard on the side of the Catholics, and were they not one of the “parties” in the riot? How then is the testimony of all parties presented from 18 news papers, while the 19th is suppressed? So your cosmopolite avers that there is neither testimony nor counsel on only one side, given by his informant, unless the declarations of those calling themselves American Republicans, or Native Americans, who disclaim having any thing to do with the burning of places of worship, which followed this “foreign massacre,” and charge it as an “act of an infuriated mob.” Your cosmopolite has no fellowship for, nor with mobs, nor mobbing; mob-law, club-law, & lynch-law, he deeply deprecates. Neither would he seek to extenuate the crime of such as are found therein: but since mobs seem to be coming fashionable in America, he wishes fair play; and not have all the blame cast upon one side, while the other is equally, or nearly as much in fault as they.
That Irish Catholics are a hasty, passionate people, and easily provoked, he will not dispute: so much the more care should be exercised not to abuse them.But oh! the privilege of being a Native American is so dear. Here your cosmopolite would ask, Whether a man by necessity born in a country without any choice of it, has any stringer claim to the enjoyment of its privileges, than one who adopts a country as his, by choice? And while a cosmopolite repudiates mobocracy, he would strive equally to shun political occasions that he knew would lead thereto. But it would seem that certain men called Native Americans, did, when they knew, or ought to have known, that it would irritate their neighbors, esteem the privilege of provoking them to rise in a mob, so great, that they attempted to hold two public meetings, on the same occasion, after they had once been driven from their rendezvous. Was it any more virtuous in the Native Americans to continue their provoking public discussions of principles, in which many of the Catholics were as deeply interested as themselves, merely because the law guaranteed freedom of speech, than for the Catholics to oppose them, who knew their ostensive object was to disfranchise them! Have Native Americans any more privilege in the national franchise, than an enfranchised Catholic? Can it be supposed that the privileges of a Native American are any more dear to him, than the privileges of an enfranchised Catholic to him? If not, Why insult a Catholic by calling him a “foreigner,” a “foreign renegade,” &c., after he is enfranchised an American? And by seeking to disfranchise him, and deprive him of holding office? Notwithstanding the American Republican conferees proclaim their own innocence, saying, “We have too just a sense of our own dignity, of the rectitude of our acts and intentions, further to dwell on this, than by a simple denial that any man any way connected with the American Republicans, was privy to, or a partaker in the burning of those churches, and to defy all proof thereof.” Would your cosmopolite be thought an infidel, if he should say he was not quite satisfied of their innocence by their own testimony, and high sounding words? His charge may be called a “vague” one, and himself an irresponsible character, – may be accused of “hypocritical sympathy” the “murderous originators of these awful scenes;” and if they also think he sheds “crocodile tears,” he by the examination of 18 witnesses on one side of the question, is led to a different conclusion respecting their innocence from what they profess. While as he said, he deeply deprecates mobocracy, either in Catholics or any others, yet is it impossible for him to believe, from the testimony before him, that the Catholics burned their own meeting houses: and who engaged in the mob, but such as were in some way connected with one or other of the parties? It will be seen in the testimony, that theNative Americans themselves commenced burning buildings; and as the Roman Catholic churches were looked to as their armed fortress, it was natural as life to set fire to them, as readily as to the buildings from whence they were annoyed. So from the testimony, and the circumstances of the case, it does appear that the denial of the conferees cannot be quite true.
Now for the examination of the witnesses. One witness testifies, “The meeting being organized, (at the Market House,) and the speaker about to proceed in his speech, an onslaught was made by a band of Irishmen (said to be all Catholics) upon the citizens composing the meeting, and an effort made to disband and break it up. A large number of determined spirits being present, an attempt was made to defend and resist the outrage of the Roman Catholics, and to retaliate,” &c. Among the resolutions found under the head of the second witness is the following:
“Resolved, That whilst as men and Americans, we are determined at all and every hazzard to resist unto the death every infraction of our rights, we are determined that we will not be led by provocation to retaliate upon the rights of others.”
Very peaceable all at once, with a resolution in their mouths and hearts toresist unto the death every violation of their rights! Quite reformed, too! for the first cited witness testifies that theyhad been retaliating. But we shall see how peaceable they continued, and how good their reformation was. When one shot had been fired, and C. Rhinedallar killed, “Rage, indignation and fury immediately seized upon the meeting,” (this same peaceably disposed meeting of Native Americans,) “and in an instant one of the most bloody and melancholy scenes followed,” &c. “A continued succession of volleys of musketry were fired from the row of Irish homes in Cadwallader street, which was kept up, without intermission, for more than three hours.” This same witness testifies, saying, That on P. Albright’s being wounded, he retired. But soon returned with about 20 armed men – joined by about as many more also armed. “They immediately took up a position at the upper end of the market, and loaded and fired in quick succession, for nearly an hour, perfectly exposed to the fire of the Irishmen in the houses.” “The conflict commenced about 5 o’clock, and continued with great fury. About 6 o’clock the Native Americans set fire to the house at the corner of C and M streets. The fire spread with great rapidity, and in a short time the whole row of building was in flames.” Should a cosmopolite be counted inane for doubting the truth of the testimony which goes to show that the firing “was kept up without intermission for more than three hours, from the row of Irish houses,” when, according to his own declaration, the houses must have been in flames two hours or more? Or, would he be thought to favor the Catholics, should he question the truth of Albright and his company standing “perfectly exposed” for near an hour to the shots of men covered under brick or stone walls, when at the best they could only fire in at the windows, while half a dozen Irishmen might have killed the whole of them in less time? Now comes the Reporter’s account, taken on the spot. “Again a meeting of citizens quietly assembled to express their political opinions has been broken up by lawless rioters. When the third speaker arose to address the meeting, a man standing outside the crowd was heard to say to another man, (both reported as being Irishmen,) “let’s make a noise, so that he won’t be heard. They forthwith created a noise, and were remonstrated with by some of the bystanders, who requested them to let the proceedings of the meeting go in peace. They would not cease their clamor,” until compelled by “receiving a severe flogging. This fight caused a little excitement, which was raised to an immense degree,” &c. Can any calm disinterested person agree, bad as the Catholics are, & as long as they (as a denomination) have been in the habit of persecuting (what they call) heretics, and corrupt as their sentiments are, that they were not insulted, abused, and driven to madness, by a political junto, who were seeking the destruction of their civil and political rights as American freemen? And should your cosmopolite be condemned as an outlaw for doubting this being a might quiet and peaceable meeting where insult provoked a noise, and noise provoked the professedquiet, peaceable and well disposed Native Americans to use flaggellation, and flaggellation provoked the use of firearms? Would your cosmopolite be justly chargeable with endeavoring to palliate the crime of the Irish, if he should say, he verily believed the Native Americans first kindled the fire, which they continued to feed with fuel, until it arose to such a height as to shed human blood, burn buildings, &c., &c.? And for attempting to clear themselves and their coadjutors in the manner that their conferees have done, they must stand condemned by every impartial jury in our country, according to the witnesses on their own side.
You and your readers know who I am, and where I live.
Yours in the fellowship of the gospel of God’s dear Son,
P.S., My informant was the WEEKLY AMERICAN REPUBLICAN, N. Y., July 5, 1844.
Signs of the Times
Volume 12, No. 23.
December 1, 1844