Philadelphia Riots

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PHILADELPHIA RIOTS. On 6 to 8 May and 5 to 8 July 1844, riots in Philadelphia climaxed the first phase of American nativistic agitation. Protestant nativists, their passions inflamed by antipapal propagandists, began systematic attacks on Irish Catholics and foreigners. During the actual rioting, Philadelphia resembled a war-torn city: cannon were mounted in the public squares, Catholic churches were burned, and hundreds of immigrants' homes were sacked by mobs. A score of persons was killed and nearly 100 wounded before militia ended the mob rule. Public reaction against this violence contributed to the downfall of the American Republican Party and sent the whole nativistic movement into temporary eclipse.


Billington, Ray Allen. The Protestant Crusade, 1800–1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism. New York: Rinehart, 1938.

Feldberg, Michael. The Philadelphia Riots of 1844: A Study of Ethnic Conflict. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1975.

———. The Turbulent Era: Riot and Disorder in Jacksonian America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Ray AllenBillington/a. r.

See alsoAnti-Catholicism ; Catholicism ; Nativism ; Philadelphia ; Riots, Urban .

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Philadelphia Riots

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