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 Anti-Irish Catholic Novel on the Kensington Riots Minimize

The Arch Bishop: or, Romanism in the United States. By Orvilla S. Belisle. Beautifully Illustrated. Fourth Edition. Philadelphia: Published by Wm. White Smith, No. 195 Chestnut Street, 1855.   408 pp.


The below piece is taken from the above mentioned book. It it typical of the type of literature that was published by the Nativists, showing their hatred of the Catholic Church. Chapter 16 and 17 also use the Kensington Riot as a backdrop, but the writing is so dredful, I thought you would get the idea from this one chapter here, Chapter 15. (Ken Milano)


Pages 212-231:


Page 212




Jesuitism in New York-Bold attempts to suppress the Bible-The people become indignant-Political aspects of Romanism-The Arch-Bishop tries to control the Ballot box-His failure-James Harper, Esq., elected Mayor by the Americans-Scenes in Philadelphia-Pat. Mullen and the Confessor-Assembling of the people-Dirt carts driven among them-The Irish Catholics armed-They try to provoke an assault but fail-A shower-The meeting adjourns to the market-house-A Catholic attacks a Citizen-Commencement of the Riot-The Meeting fired upon-GEORGE SHIFFLER killed-The Market House fired-The Hibernia Hose House in flames-Citizens shot down-The Military called out-Gaven takes an active part-Painful Rumors-Dreadful Consternation-The people aroused and in arms.


NEW YORK had suffered herself to be led blindly captive; and had her captors been content with their conquest, she would still have hugged the chains that fettered and disfigured her majestic form. The wail of the oppressed fell unheeded on her ears. Commercial prosperity had perverted her heart; but it only slumbered. Her complacency gradually gave way under the indignities her captors heaped upon her; and an ominous contemptuous smile took its place, that deepened into a scowl of defiance when they paraded and surmounted the name of Coddington with a cross, authoritatively commanding the people to give him their votes for Mayor at the approaching election. She arose in her might, and then, to her dismay, learned her danger, and


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understood how nearly fatal had been her lethargy. (See Note 59.)


" Have we, indeed, a master ?" man asked his brother, with an earnestness half credulous, as if wishing to be assured to the contrary. Still the ominous, incontrovertible facts were daily before them, daily bringing the blush of shame to their cheeks, for their unmanly compliance in surrendering the blood-bought liberty that the Pilgrim Fathers had bequeathed to them. In two-thirds of her Public Schools the Bible-that corner-stone of the Republic-had been suppressed! Her citizens were waylaid and maltreated if they spoke irreverently of the Church or its crimes, and even the law-makers of the Republic were assaulted if they refused to uncover their heads and do reverence publicly to her Bishops. Had she not need to blush for her manhood, when such debasing cringing acts were required of her? She had willingly, freely given the ram parts of her citadel into the hands of her enemies, and then wondered that they were treated as prisoners. Liberty's ever watchful eye was upon them. She saw with rapture that they had awoke, and marshaling them in a solid, unbroken phalanx, she led them to the rescue of their freedom to the Polls. (See Notes 60, 61 and 62.)


The surging waves were stayed, and tyranny and oppression retired aghast, and cowering, uttered imprecations of baffled rage at their defeat; but Liberty plumed her wings, and circled with glad hosannas over the rescued


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people, while they, so lately humbled, now strode proudly through their city, conscious of performing a noble duty, by rebuking their late masters, and asserting their allegiance only to the land of their birth and their Creator.


Mr. JAMES HARPER, the American Republican, had triumphed over his opponent who, with the whole foreign vote combined in his favor, stood rebuked and abashed before Liberty's searching eye. Did he then, think of the "Thirty pieces of silver?" or were these hirelings purchased for nought?


Philadelphia had, from the first, spurned the fetters prepared for her; and, with loathing, trampled upon the sackcloth and ashes. Why should she suffer her children to be deprived of the light of Divine inspiration which her forefathers had with so much care, illumed their own footsteps from infancy to manhood? These children would, when they had passed away, take their places in the National Councils. If not fortified by the teachings of the Divine law, how were they to legislate with wisdom? If they, with the light of the word of God, found the path of life rugged and thorny, how were their children to travel it deprived of this light? Would they not fall and be crushed among the surging billows of sin and -temptation, as they rolled along to engulph the unwary?


The people, assembled in Independence Square, had testified how revolting to her free born heart were these acts of aggression! Had this expression of her displeasure


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been heeded, she would have paused here. The serpent which she had warmed in her embraces, became aroused, because its designs of poisoning the bosom of its benefactors had been laid bare, and it now with a vindictiveness unparalleled in the past annals of their work, threw off all semblance of secrecy, and openly declared the American Republic should become subservient to the" Man of countless Crimes" at Rome.


On the morning of the sixth of May, the Confessor was alone in the parsonage. There was an impatient scowl on his brow, and a quick nervousness in his step, while he strode back and forth, alternately pausing, and with an eager glance surveying the street leading to his abode. The scowl on his dark visage gave way to one more humane, as the door opened, and a coarse brawny son of Erin stepped in, and with a cringing bow, apologized for his delay. " Your Reverence! I could not come before, as John O’Neil and I had to hunt up boys of the right sort. We want them that can give and take hard knocks."


"You have been successful then ?-and I may depend upon you ?"


"Sure, your Reverence may. Pat Mullen never backs out of a bit of a free fight."


"But, this is to be no fight, unless you are attacked. Our object is to make these heretics strike the first blow. It will not answer our purpose to begin the fray; but, if


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we can provoke them to aggression, we will give no quarter as long as any of these sons of perdition show themselves in the street. We have got to teach them a lesson, and the sooner it is done the better."


" Sure, then, we shall have no fight! Didn't they all run like cowards, 'and sons of cowards as they were, when we last Friday, run among them and flourished our shillalahs over their heads, and even pulled the staging from beneath them, until they come down in a heap? I mean all who had not run away. And when at the election, they saw us coming, didn't they suddenly forget to vote and think the best place for them was at home, as sure it is, for all cowards ?"


 "I know that, Pat, still we must contrive to make them strike at least one blow. I care not then if they run to their hearts' content. We can say that we acted in self-defense. Have  you got Pat Lafferty secured ?"


 " Sure an' he is true, but it is no use, your Reverence, for on Friday I threw down their flag myself, and trampling on it, called the cowards to come and take it if they dared. If they will take that, your Reverence, they haven't any fight in them."


" You have done some good, at least Pat,-you prevented their speaking and promulgating more heresies. This you must also do this afternoon. If, however, you can provoke them to attack you, defend yourselves to the utmost, you will have all your own way, for 'they will be un


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armed, and I shall stand ready with my riflemen to charge on them in order to complete the work you begin."


"You shall be obeyed, your Reverence ! We have got the carts all engaged with as merry a set of lads as ever handled a shillalah. If there is any fight in them, which, by the holy St. Patrick, I don't believe there is, we will bring it out !"


The Confessor was again alone with his own dark thoughts. Was then every sacred emotion of his heart obliterated? or, were they choked by the vast system of intolerance which claimed him, and in him found a valuable sentinel to guard its walls? Did he ever falter in the course which he was pursuing? Did not the peaceful homes and happy hearthstones which Liberty had given to all her children plead with him to be spared, that they might pursue the path so congenial to peace and prosperity? Where were those noble passions that are given by God to every being bearing the impress of His image; that they did not raise up and cry, "Shame! shame on such ingratitude to a people who have taken you freely to their homes and heart! They have never looked upon you as a stranger, b~t;. have welcomed- you as a brother. Shame! shame! Oh, creature, that thus degrades his manhood!"


The mid-day had passed, and the people began to throng towards the lot, at the corner of Second and Master streets, to which place they had been called, for a free expression of opinion in regard to rights guaranteed to them by the


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Constitution. They came from all quarters of the city, and were men from all classes, order-loving men, who came forth to perform a duty due alike to their country and their children. The throng increased until a dense crowd filled the space. The speakers were already on the stand: above whom floated gracefully the stars and stripes, the staff supported by young SHIFFLER. Proudly its folds hovered above those freemen whose fathers had carried it in triumph wherever duty had led them, until they won for their country a name ,envied in the remotest corners of the earth. SHIFFLER gazed proudly on the ensign of his country; then, as he thought that, even in the land over which that flag floated, crimes of the 'darkest dye were perpetrated with impunity, a pang shot through his heart. "Yes,” thought he, “if a Convent's walls surrounded a spot, there is immunity from justice. Behind them may languish and die a freeman, yet his country dare not scale those walls to release him. He may know that his country's colors float above him, but he knows, also, it is in mockery, for high above them towers the Cross. In it he sees the death's head and cross-bones upon the black banner, and in his despair calls on his God for the mercy refused to him by his brother."


A few rods distant from the throng of people, stood in a group a number of men, surrounding the Confessor, with fire arms in their hands, eyeing the scene before them with threatening gestures. These passed unheeded by the peo-

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-ple, whose eyes were upon their Nation’s colors that floated above them, inspiring them by the memory of noble deeds which clustered around them, to a purer, more devoted patriotism. At this crisis, J. R. KRAMER arose to address them.


"Come down from that you crocodiles, or I'll make you," yelled Pat Lafferty. Without heeding the interruption the Speaker commenced, but scarcely had he began, when carts loaded with dirt were driven into thecrowd by Pat Mullen, and John O'Neill who, forcing their way through the astonished citizens to the front of the Speaker's stand, with coarse jests and taunting imprecations, emptied them, then drove away amidst the shouts of derision of several other carters who, following their leader's example, hurled taunts of cowardice at the citizens who, scarcely realizing the evidently premeditated insult, smothered their rising indignation. With difficulty arising from this unparalleled insult, borne so nobly by the citizens, the Address was concluded. GENERAL SMITH succeeded him in some conciliatory remarks, when he gave way to LEWIS C. LEVIN. The conduct of the carters now became insufferable. The indignation of the people broke forth in mutterings deep and fearful. Fortunately a torrent of rain at that moment poured from the clouds above them, and the assailed sought shelter in the Market House, cose at hand, while the assailants fled to the Hibernia Hose


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House, their own dwellings, and those of their friends adjoining. (See Note 63.)


Here sheltered from the rain, their flag again was unfurled, and the people attempted to reorganize their meeting. Pat Mullen, followed by his comrades, came pressing forward, shouting and taunting them, using every endeavor to frustrate their design, and by creating disorder to disperse, if they could not frighten them.


LEWIS C. LEVIN at length arose to address them. "Fellow citizens," said he, "we have reached an important crisis!" The words had hardly fallen from his lips, when Pat Mullen clinched in desperation the nearest citizen, and a scene of disorder ensued that, once seen, can never be forgotten; but language is inadequate to a description. It needed but this to kindle to a flame the smouldering wrath of the citizens who had borne aggression and injuries unparalleled, with patience and a noble desire to see themselves righted by the legitimate modes prescribed by the laws of their country. To this end had they assembled that day, and who dare to say that American freemen have no right to assemble themselves peacefully and denounce or approve any of their law-makers as they may see fit? From the roofs, windows and loop-holes which had been prepared by their assailants, yards and alleys of the range of building in which the Catholics were safely ensconced, a destructive fire was opened upon the defenceless citizens by those within. Wild shrieks of


shiffler shot edited.jpg


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agony rent the air from those who, in fleeing from the scene of danger, were wounded or maimed in their flight! Thrice had the flag fallen with young Shiffler who, hurling back his assailants, again raised aloft the stars and stripes, now riddled by the shots that were flying thick and fast around him. His light form dilated, and with flashing eyes he spurned back the miscreants who would have forcibly torn the sacred emblem from his hands. Never had a being occupied a prouder position; never was it more faithfully discharged. For, even then, with his assailants at bay, awed by the heroism so nobly displayed, a ball from the Hose House entered his heart, and he fell as he gasped, "Irene!-Mother!-Heaven!" with his Nation's flag gathered around him, true to it in death as he had been in life; for when they raised the young martyr his hands were already stiffening in death around it, while it was crimson with his life-blood. (See Note 64.)


Maddened at the sight of their dead companion, the citizens poured volley after volley of bricks and stones at their aggressors, which harmlessly rebounded from the buildings and fell in their midst; they then fled in every direction, but not before eleven of their number were wounded, some of them mortally.


This was only a temporary lull; for the citizens who had so long borne with every insult the misguided adopted foreigners had heaped upon them, were now aroused. They


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were no cowards in that they had suffered thus far in silence; but like the lion that stood- at bay eyeing the audacious pursuer who dared to trespass upon his rights and beard him even in his den - so the accumulated insults of years now arose before them, and they felt in their hearts that to put off further the day of atonement, would be only to allow these aggressions to augment in a fearful array.


With dread foreboding, the Speakers saw the rising of the tempest, and in the flaming eyes and dilated nostrils of the people, read the sternness of their purpose. Hope that the rising storm would lull, for a few moments, rose in their hearts as they saw the citizens disperse; but this was dispelled when they, rapidly returned; now, like their assailants, armed with every description of offensive weapons, on which they had been able, in the impulse of the moment, to lay their hands. By hundreds and thousands they came, until they blocked up every avenue leading to the ground. Now the mutterings of the tempest burst into one long fearful roll of thunder. Thecry of " Vengeance, vengeance for our wrongs! Vengeance for our insulted laws! And fearful vengeance for the blood of Shiffler!" arose like the blast of a trumpet, and fell with dreadful forebodings on the ears of the Confessor who, ensconced with his murderous crew, within the Hose House and buildings adjoining, had, with his own hand pointed


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out the young hero as a mark for their rifles, as he stood there high above his fellows waving the flag of his country above them."


Several citizens recognizing the imminence of the peril, sprang upon the staging, still gory with the blood of the murdered Shiffler and cried -


"Forbear! imbue not your hands in each other's \blood !"


Their voices were not heard, or fell unheedingly on their ears, for at that moment a gang of Irish laborers, with fire-arms, and laden with missiles, bore down upon them from the Germantown Road, and pouring forth their deadly weapons and missiles scattered death among them. The citizens quickly rallied and drove back their assailants. Their position was disadvantageous, for the inmates of the Hose House and buildings adjoining, were thinning their ranks at a fearful rate. Several had already been carried dead from the field, while others had been borne away mortally wounded.


"This is no time to dally! _We must drive the inmates from those buildings; follow me !" cried the eager voice of Gaven, who had been in the whole of the fray, and who now, regardless of danger, broke through the crowd, and armed with a heavy bludgeon, made for the rendezvous of their assailants. The people recognizing in his undaunted eye and carelessness of danger a master spirit, followed with loud huzzas, and attacking the buildings


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with vigor, demolished the doors and windows, and drove out the armed ruffians who fired upon them as they fled. Great numbers of women now joined in the fray, and no tigress ever fought more desperately or frantically for its prey, than these did for their foreign masters. Their imprecations on the heretics, as they called the insulted citizens, were the most fearful, and their recklessness the most abandoned.


"By the Holy Virgin!" they yelled, as their unbound hair streamed around their hideously distorted visages, "we will this night, wash our hands in your hearts' blood, and send every heretic soul of you to burn in purgatory!" (See Note 65.)


Gaven led his victorious followers back to the Market House, when a wild appalling rumor greeted their ears! It was exclaimed -


" St. Augustine is turned into an arsenal and barracks, and at this moment, one thousand foreigners are armed within its walls, with great quantities of ammunition. St. Michael's, the Nunnery, and Parsonage adjoining are also fortified and armed, as well as St. Philip's, while the lay members are all armed by their Priests with deadly weapons, and are ready and threaten to massacre every Protestant citizen !"


"Much of this is true. I, within the hour, heard a threat to make a second St. Bartholomew of it before morning!" said Steinmitz who, driven to desperation by the


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persecution that had been so mercilessly pursued againsthim, joined with all the energies of his nature against the monstrous system which gave one man, and often a bad one, unlimited power over the temporal and spiritual life of his brother.


"If it is true," returned Paul, who had hastened hither, on hearing of the death of Shiffler, "is it a greater crime than those they are already guilty of? Tear away those walls there where mercy and justice are unknown; and then, when you have contemplated the untold horrors hidden there, tell me, if this is a more fearful crime, that it so chills your blood with horror and indignation !"


"You have all heard of ,Gaven, called 'The Renegade,' by his enemies?" asked their intrepid leader, in routing their assailants; "Look on me, for I am Gaven. While I was within their Convent walls, I witnessed that which I dare not tell. Oh, God! it was fearful! and what those Nunneries I have seen contain, from what I know of them, I believe these contain. Lay their walls bare-level them with the earth they pollute. And when this is done, if you pronounce them guiltless of crime, then wo to Columbia, for she is dishonored !"


"Down with the Nunnery"! "Riddle their polluted walls!" "Why should we have institutions among us hid within a fortress, as if they feared the light of day?" now resounded from that angry crowd which heaved and rocked with aroused passions.


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" To the Nunnery! You know the way, and I will be by your side!" shouted Gaven, and forcing his way with Steinmitz and Paul through the crowd, he called loudly to the people to follow. The mass of living beings, rocked and tossed like the waves of the sea, rolled onward and soon surrounded the Nunnery they had doomed to destruction.


"Within these, or the Church's walls adjoining, either dead or alive - and I pray God she be dead - I believe is immured my foster-sister, and the affianced bride of our martyred Shiffler. What say you? Shall we bring her forth ?'


"How can you ask?" said Gaven. " If alive, she is suffering torture which each day is a de,ath in itself."


A yell of rage, long, loud, and fierce, accompanied by a vigorous attack upon its walls, was the response of the people who, in a moment more, fell back in dismay before a perfect shower of bullets poured upon them from the Nunnery grounds. Several of their number were borne dead or dying away, while the rest retreated before the death-dealing hail. The storm had lulled. The Republicans saw, with heartfelt gratitude, this favorable aspect, and made every effort to induce the excited people to return to their homes, and trust to the wisdom of their laws for protection. It was of no avail. Their appeals were received in sullen silence and terrific groans alternately, until exhausted with their efforts, the Republican


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leaders, with sorrow, left the ground. The people were constantly augmented by new accessions; but their flashing eyes and the stern, compressed lips, told plainer than words that, the lull would be of short duration. Sheriff M’MICHAEL, with his posse, now mingled freely with the people, and by his firmness partially allayed the fierce passions that called so loudly for vengeance.


The hours passed away, and darkness dispersed the timid, while those more resolute retired only on the morrow to return with concentrated force. Paul, in company with Gaven, sought the humble home of the stricken widow-the mother of SHIFFLER. As they drew near the wail of grief that could not be assuaged broke on their ears.


" I was alone!" came in broken accents from her over burthened heart, "and he - my first born - my noble boy was my only stay! And now they have murdered him!

Oh, God! what have I.done to them that this affliction should fall upon me? That this, my son, should be denied the right to live !"


"Peace, mother, your son is not murdered, but martyred! His spirit lives no longer here, but has returned to the God who gave it. He can never die! and, in ages to come, his memory will be cherished and embalmed in the hearts of the rising generations, when we all shall have passed away and are forgotten. The name of Shiffler will hereafter be a rallying cry when oppression, with its loathsome tread, would hurl from its proud height our Nation's flag


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Then we will remember that he died still holding it aloft, that we might look upon freedom's folds and be strong!"


Pale and cold he lay in the calm sleep of death. "Irene! Mother! Heaven!" seemed still to linger on his lips, now white as the shroud with which they were preparing to enfold him but who a few hours before had uttered words laden with life and hope. All, all had now fled. Paul's heart grew stern and vidictive as he looked upon the still form of him for whom he had relinquished the beautiful lost Irene, and from its depth he cursed the hands that had dealt the blows which deprived him of a sister and friend. More than friend - for he loved Shiffler as a connecting link between himself and Irene. She had loved him, and he felt drawn towards him as a memento of the pure love he bore to her. Silently he went forth from the house of death with Gaven, and soon learned how fatal had been the assault upon them.


"Wesley Rhinedollar is dead! and George Young is dying!" said one of his companions who formed part of a group around the stricken mother's door.


"My God! where will this end ?"


"This is not all! William Hillman, Mathew Hammitt, and Lewis Greble are dead! And the end is not yet; others are mortally wounded and cannot live!"


A cold shudder ran through the group.


"How long, Americans," said Gaven with scorn, " will you bear this yoke? I am told you have had every specie


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of insult heaped upon you; and now, as a crowning act, your citizens are shot down while lawfully, peacefully performing a duty imperatively" demanded of them ?"


"No longer! we have already borne too much !" answered the group in low, quiet, stern tones.


"That is well;" said Gaven, "assemble armed tomorrow, on the ground where Shiffler gave up his life, and a fearful reckoning shall be in store for them. This out break has been deliberately planned; else why were men occupying a single room and clothed in rags, in possession of valuable new rifles, such as we saw them have to-day? They broke up your meeting on Friday last with the intention of forcing you into a combat, and when they found themselves foiled, hit upon the project of driving carts loaded with dirt through the assembly to-day, hoping to accomplish by such an insult their purpose. Foiled in this, they have attacked you without provocation! Forebearance now ceases to be a virtue. If you will not fight for your homes, the city will within a week, be clothed in sackcloth and ashes. I speak thus strongly," continued Gaven, " because I know the enemies with whom you have to deal."


Pages 393-396


Notes 59 - Page 213.


In New York, April, 1847, Bishop Hughes surmounted the name of Coddington with a cross, and at several different places, showed it to the Catholics, and commanded them to vote for it at the coming election. - Phil. Sun.


Note 60 - Pager 213.


“America was asleep; but it was the sleep of innocence. We were unsuspicious; but there were traitors within our gates. If a foreign power has begun to be afraid of the young giant laying in his cradle, and sent a covey of serpents to lurk in the cradle along with him, and poison him, they will find their mistake. They will soon find that this young giant will put forth his energies, and nothing will deter him. No admiration of the speckled covering of the snakes, and no fear of their deadly sting, will deter him from giving them a fatal grasp.”


Note 61 - Page 213.


The controllers of the Public Schools have passed resolutions forbidding under pain of dismissal the teachers reading the Bible in the schools, and at this moment twenty-four schools have submitted to the resolution. - New York Herald, April, 1844


Note 62 - Page 213.


“The church, we admit is of necessity intolerant; that is, she does everything in her power to check, as effectually as circumstances will permit, the progress of crime and error. Her intolerance follows necessarily from her claim of infallibility; she alone has the right to be intolerable.” - Shepherd of the Valley.


Note 63 - Page 220.


“Mr. S. R. Kramer and General Smith successively took the stand; neither of them, however, occupying over ten minutes time. Their addresses were remarkably mild in their character, and contained nothing against which the most scrupulous could have reasonably objected. While these gentlemen were speaking, several Irish carters came driving their carts into the lot, and forced their way through the crowd, nearly up to the speakers’ stand, greatly annoying the people, and even exposing them to danger. Five or six of the loads were driven in, as near to the staging as the drivers could conveniently force their carts. These loads of dirt still lie upon the spot where they were then thrown. They were not needed there at that particular time; neither has any use been made of them since. Neither of them was brought in until the meeting had assembled, nor was one sent there after the assembly had dismissed! And when it is understood, that at the very time when these carters were committing this inexcusable outrage upon the meeting, there was assembled in the market house, running parallel with Second street, on the north side of Master street, and a few yards west of the school house, a number of Irishmen opposed to the meeting, armed with fire-arms and other offensive weapons, none can for an instant doubt that these carters were sent there for the purpose of provoking an attack upon themselves, and of thus furnishing a plausible excuse for an assault in return upon the meeting, on the part of their friends in the market house and the surrounding buildings. There was evidently in all this a cunningly devised plan for the perpetration of a premeditated outrage, for the consummation of which the most fiendish preparation had been made.” See full reports of the proceedings in the Dailies dated May 7, 1844.

Note 64. - Page 221.


“One young man, about nineteen years of age, was engaged throughout the afternoon, in supporting the American flag, which hung over the speakers’ stand. This laudible employment rendered him an especial mark for the aim of the enemies of the cause he was maintaining. Two or three times had the flag fallen to the ground, and as often did George Shiffler, with the assistance of several others, again raise it, and cause its stripes and stars to float above their heads. But his efforts were unavailing; for a bullet at length pierced his heart, and he fell as senseless as the flag he supported, to the ground. And before the sun had gone down, the lifeless body of the noble and patriotic boy was laid at the feet of a widowed and distracted mother.” - North American


Note 65. Page 226.


“The Irish women of the district were said by those on the ground to have fought with unparalleled ferocity. - See Reports of the Riots.


“Many of the women who were not engaged with weapons, incited the men to vigorous action, pointing out where they could operate with more effect, and cheering them on and rallying them to a renewal of the conflict whenever their spirits fell or they were compelled to retreat.” - Ibid.


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