Three Days of Horror

Monday, May 6th


Figure 1: Sanctuary, Old St. Michaels


On Monday afternoon the Nativists of the Third Ward of Kensington again assembled on the school-lot. The crowd was much larger; at least five hundred persons were present. The meeting was opened, and the gentle editor of the "Native American," Mr. Samuel R Kramer, made his usual speech about the tyranny and other evils of the Church of Rome. He was followed by a General Smith, who spoke in the same charitable vein. There was a slight disturbance when the horses of a passing dray driven by John O'Neill (a Catholic) became unmanageable, frightened perhaps by the applause, and galloped onto the lot. No one was injured and the dray was gone in a moment or two; but in some accounts this incident has been magnified and distorted into a deliberate assault which dispersed the Nativists and was a contributing cause of the afternoon s violence.


Even if Mr. O'Neill had planned and executed such a coup as he is charged with, would there not have been some justification? Was there no justification for the attack of the Irish Catholics on Friday afternoon? The Native Americanists were not met for a peaceful purpose, but to promote injustice and tyranny. Their assemblages, so excited by passionate speeches in which violence was suggested if not openly urged, were every one of them, a menace to the peace of the community. Besides, everybody knew that if they began to riot - and they would surely begin sooner or later with the feeling so intensely bitter unless something were done to prevent them - there was no force capable of checking them. The Catholics would be pitifully outnumbered in the expected disturbances, and it is easy to understand how the thought, the morally defensible thought would occur to some of them that the only thing left to do in protection of their lives and property was to gamble on an attempt at intimidation.                                               


But the meeting went on, and after a while came a serious interruption in the form of a storm of wind and rain. The Nativists, immediately drenched but with undampened ardor within, ran for the Nanny Goat Market on American Street - I shall keep the present names of streets in this chapter. Others, some of them Catholics sought shelter here at the same time and were unwilling to give way. But thee Nativists, having a superior right to everything in the country forcibly took possession. A platform was improvised for the speakers and the American Flag was planted before it.


They were never without the Flag. How resolutely these bigots cling to it when they apprehend no danger! How tirelessly and exultantly they wave it when this costs nothing and while they deliberately seek to destroy the noble ideals of which, to us, it is a symbol! And how willingly they relinquish it to the grasp of Catholics when it must be carried into the hell of war! The first concern of every new organization of the Native American type is to arrogate to themselves the Flag so that the opposition encountered may be charged to hatred of the Flag and the tyranny attempted may be justified as defense of the Flag. Racial and religious prejudices have been enkindled and fanned, deeds of shame and violence urged and perpetrated, under the bright folds of our national emblem, never by those who had the least love of it, but by those who held it so cheap that they were willing to make it the cloak of their hatred and evil-doing.


Lewis C. Levin, Esq., began to harangue the crowd. He was editor of a Native American organ, the Daily Sun. A low politician he was, at the time a candidate for re-election to Congress, trying to ride into office on the wave of fanaticism sweeping the country. In the history of his family appears one of those extreme ironies, for his wife and daughter became Catholics; the former was buried from St. Patrick's, one of the churches menaced by the madness of 1844; and the latter was received into the Church by Father Merrick, S.J., before her marriage to Senor Carlos De Burros of the Brazilian Legation.


But before Levin could draw on his store of invective there was a disorder. Outside the market an unnaturalized Irish Protestant, Fields, and a Catholic, McLaughlin, had engaged in a warm argument bout the merits of the meeting. Others took part in it. A young Nativist from the City whipped two pistols from his pockets – many of the Nativists had come prepared for troublemaking - and went towards a Catholic standing in the street, evidently intending to shoot him at close range. But some of the men standing at the entrance of the house of the Hibernia Hose Company on Cadwallader Street and others from the market, rushed to them; there was a scuffle during which the pistols went off, wounding a Catholic, Patrick Fisher, in the mouth.


A howling mob broke from the market to attack the Catholics. There was fighting immediately all along the west side. It became something of a battle. Youths and half-grown boys attracted by the excitement eagerly entered the fray. Indeed, during the disorders of these three days, boys played no inconsiderable part, contended with the most sanguinary spirit.


There were not many Catholics there to offer resistance. There is no evidence - as the Catholic Herald remarked editorially - that at any time in the riots more than thirty of them opposed the Nativists. The Catholics of Kensington as a group were peace-loving, deeply religious, and trustful of Divine Providence. To do bodily harm, even under the greatest provocation, would be entirely foreign to their character, something utterly abhorrent. They would suffer patiently; they were experienced in suffering patiently. There was, of course, a hot, rebellious spirit here and there among them. Nearly all of those who fought in 1844 were members of the Hibernia Hose Company, which in all probability was little better than the run of hose companies of the day, and so would prove attractive to the Irish Catholic youths of adventurous or combative tendencies. Most of the newspapers gave very prejudiced accounts of Monday's disturbance, as of all that followed. They spoke of the movements of Catholics as of a foreign enemy. They lauded the valor of the Nativists and applauded their successes. And they were at pains to make it appear that all the Catholics of the neighborhood, men and women, were in arms.


The fighting continued, became fiercer. Brickbats flew in every direction, firearms were discharged indiscriminately. A handful of Catholics sallied from the hose house and laid about so furiously with axes that the Americanists retreated into the market. But they surged out again in a moment and by sheer force of numbers drove the firemen to cover. The Catholics all fled, sought refuge in houses on Cadwallader Street and Master Street and Germantown Road; but they hurled missiles at their pursuers from the windows.


At this stage George Shiffler, a youth of about eighteen years, while going with a section of the mob down Germantown Road in pursuit of a Catholic, was felled by a shot, probably from the gun of a fellow rioter. The ball struck under his right arm and entered his chest. He was carried to Bower's Drug Store at the corner of Germantown Road and Thompson Street, where he expired in a few minutes. In the days that followed, and for a long time afterwards, Protestant demagogues made use of this incident, much metamorphosed, to .inflame their audiences, and the popular version of the affair came to be that Shiffler was shot while attempting to redeem the Flag which a musket-ball had broken from its staff. He was pictured as an ardently patriotic youth giving his life in defense of "our glorious Flag" before the attack of Irish "Papists" fighting to overthrow American institutions and raise the standard of "Romish" tyranny in "Our Land of Freedom."


The report of the casualty quickly spread and intensified the rage of the Nativists. They wreaked vengeance on the dwellings of Catholics whether it was thought snipers had used them or not. Doors were battered in, windows broken, furniture was thrown into the streets and demolished. They riddled the walls with bullets. Along Master Street west of Second, up and down Cadwallader Street and Germantown Road, the destruction continued for more than an hour. At seven o'clock, when the mob had dwindled and the excitement abated, the sheriff came on the scene. It is remarkable that during these anti-Catholic riots the Law invariably arrived at a scene of disturbance after the fanatics had done their evil work.


They had gone home now, most of them, but merely to refresh and strengthen themselves for a strenuous evening of rioting. Toward nine o'clock a crowd gathered at Second and Girard - evidently a rendezvous - and shortly began breaking into houses, many of which they rendered entirely uninhabitable. But the main objective of the evening's operations was the Convent of the Sacred Heart, the convent erected by Father Donaghoe for his community. At ten o'clock there was a surging mass of humanity in front of it. Sister Mary Baker and two young girls, Elizabeth Sullivan and Jane O'Reilly, were in the building at the time, no one else. Sister Mary opened the front door and showed herself, thinking that the sight of a woman would pacify the mob. She was greeted with a storm of missiles; a brick knocked her down unconscious.


They then applied the torch to the wooden fence and were about to rush into the convent to set it on fire when a volley of musketry from a house opposite on Second Street killed a youth, William Wright, on the spot, and mortally wounded a Nathan Ramsay. For a moment it was a question which emotion would have its way. Terror prevailed and they ran for cover. Meanwhile several Catholic men had entered the building by the rear and carried the three women to safety.


A wild meeting of the Native Americans was held in the Assembly Building, Tenth and Chestnut Streets, late that night.


Early Tuesday morning a man's thumb and the shattered bits of a gun stock and barrel were found in the rear yard of the convent. Blood was traced from the spot to the home of Owen Daly at Second and Master Streets. Warrants were obtained from Alderman Boileau and Daly and a John O'Connor were arrested. It was alleged that a loaded gun and bloody sheets and pillow cases were found in the room they had occupied. This is the almost incredible feature of the riots of 1844 that Irish Catholics were arrested for resisting the violence of the Nativists; that they were arrested for defending their lives and property, the property of their Church, the lives of their religious - dearest of all. It would have been the basest cowardice, a shameful blot on the record of St. Michael's, if parishioners had seen that infuriate mob before the building in which were three poor women, had seen one of them struck down brutally, and this one wearing the sacred garb of religion, and had not done everything possible to save them.


Tuesday, May 7


As the night melted away and the grey dawn grew brighter a scene of utter desolation was disclosed. There were rows of deserted houses, terribly battered, the walls of brick riddled with shot, the boards of frame dwellings splintered, and gaping, black holes where had been windows and doors. The streets in this smitten area were strewn with debris; there were broken parts of chairs, sofas, beds; shreds of clothing and covers; bits of shattered glass and earthernware. Here and there was a clot of blood.


Groups of men formed on the corners. They talked excitedly of the disturbances of the previous afternoon and evening. But the forenoon passed quietly. It was an ominous and oppressive peace.


The Nativists had decided to hold a mass-meeting of citizens in the State House yard at three o'clock in the afternoon. They circulated handbills all over the County advertising it; and at the bottom of the bills were these significant words, "Let every man come prepared to defend himself." Not less than four thousand persons attended - a mob thirsting for the blood of Catholics. The presiding officer, Thomas R. Newbold, made a show of trying to quiet them, and William Hollingshead urged forbearance. Rev. John Perry stigmatized the "proceedings in Kensington" as a gross and atrocious outrage against native Americans, and offered these resolutions:


"That the proceedings of a portion of the Irish inhabitants of the district of Kensington on Monday afternoon is the surest evidence that can be given that our views on the naturalization laws are correct, and that foreigners in the short space of five years are incapable of entering into the spirit of our institutions.


"That we consider the Bible in the Public Schools as necessary for a faithful course of instruction therein, and we are determined to maintain it there in spite of the efforts of naturalized and unnaturalized foreigners to eject it therefrom.


"That this meeting believes that the recently successful efforts of the friends of the Bible in Kensington was the inciting cause which resulted in the murderous scenes of the sixth instant."


Colonel C. J. Jack delivered an inflammatory oration, denouncing the influence of foreigners in elections, reminding the mob that at least two years previously he had urged upon the City the necessity of forming a regiment of Native American Volunteers to sustain native rights and the laws of the country against the aggression of foreigners. He said he was a marked man in consequence, but not shrinking from his duty on that account, and that he hoped yet "to witness the eradication of every party .principle or institution that was not purely American."


A motion that the meeting adjourn to the following Thursday was greeted with a thunder of nays. They yelled, "Adjourn to Second and Master Streets now," and, "Let us go up to Kensington." The motion was put and "carried by acclamation with great fervor."


They swarmed out into Chestnut Street. The dense, disorderly mass began to move almost immediately. Up Fourth Street they went, pushing, and shouting "Kill the damned Irish." It was an armed mob, swelling every minute. At the head was borne the American Flag, and beside it a banner on which was painted in large, black letters:


This is the


that was trampled


by the



The Irish Catholics were charged later, even by newspapers which pretended to an attitude of fairness, with having brought on the horror of Tuesday evening by their aggression. As if a small number would have been so foolhardy as to attack those mad thousands! As if the Native Americans had come, armed to the teeth, to the scene of the disorders of the previous day to conduct a peaceful meeting! As if they had not shouted "On to Kensington" in a frenzy of impatience to begin the assault on the hated Catholics; as if they had not printed their lying banner and had it carried at their head to goad the whole non-Catholic population to violence!


Immediately on their arrival at the Nanny Goat Market the trouble began. They attacked the Hibernia Hose Company house, already partly demolished; they dragged out the apparatus and destroyed them. Whether or not they knew at first that some Catholics had stationed themselves in the building, we cannot be certain.


The thick of the riot on Tuesday, as on Monday, was at the Master Street end of the market. This market in the middle of what is now called American Street, ran the entire block from Master to Jefferson. Its upper part was partitioned into rather small compartments; but there was a long, free space at the south end, and this was suitable for meetings. There were no buildings then on the west side of American Street above Master, and none at this point on the east side of Cadwallader, which is just a few yards west. The house of the Hibernia Hose Company was the second above Master Street on the other side of Cadwallader; hence it looked right on the lower part of the market. News had been brought to Kensington of the advance of the armed mob and some desperate hosemen had gathered in the upper story of their house to make a last stand.


These defenders opened fire and at once the exposed crowd below suffered two casualties: a young man, Charles Rhinedollar, was shot dead; and another, George Young, was seriously wounded. The Nativists became frantic to seize the Catholics who had been guilty of this defense. But the hatch between them was very heavy and withstood the efforts of the Nativists who had gotten into the hose room to force it. Outside the mob stormed in mad disorder. There was a small company, however, consisting of about forty men under the leadership of Peter Albright, an apostate - these are often the most bitter against the Faith - which executed maneuvers with military precision. They had no cover; after discharging a volley they would lie flat on the ground to reload.


A few Irishmen, well protected, were not only holding the thousands at bay, but also inflicting considerable losses. So the attack went on for more than an hour. At length it occurred to someone that the best plan would be to burn them out. It is astonishing that this had not been thought of sooner. The corner house, which belonged to a widow named Harris - she had made a hurried departure on the approach of the mob, leaving behind all her life's savings, $700.00, which a foraging party of vicious boys discovered the next morning and made off with - was set on fire.


When the hose house caught fire its defenders leaped from a rear window into the yard of the dwelling on the north side. They continued to retreat from house to house in this way before the steady approach of the flames. But the Nativists finally picked several of them off with their musketry. Joseph Rice was shot dead, and a Johnson; and three bullet-riddled bodies, never identified, were later found lying in a yard. Whether any of the group ultimately escaped, is not recorded. It was thought that some of them perished in the fire.


In a surprisingly little while the whole row of houses on the west side of Cadwallader Street from Master to Jefferson, was ablaze.


Some hose companies attempted to reach the scene of the fire, but were driven off by the mob. The flames raged unchecked. About seven o'clock the Nanny Goat Market, which was the property of the District of Kensington, caught fire and in two hours nothing remained of it but blackened brick pillars. The conflagration was described in one of the newspapers as "awfully grand. A great sea of fire raged, the noise of which could be heard at a considerable distance, mingled with the crash of falling timbers and crumbling



About half-past eight o'clock the sheriff came on the scene with his posse, and General Cadwallader, who had been requested by the sheriff on Monday evening to call out his troops but had refused, arrived with the First Brigade and two companies of the Second Brigade - volunteer militia. The Carroll Hose Company brought on its apparatus under an escort of troops and began throwing water on the burning dwellings. Then came the United States Engine Co. Soon most of the hose and engine companies of the City and County were on the scene.


It was nearly midnight before the flames were gotten under control. Thirty dwellings and the Nanny Goat Market were then in ruins. General Cadwallader established a cordon of troops about the smouldering area, and mounted two field pieces loaded with grape and canister, the one to sweep Jefferson Street and the other to command the lower end of what had been the market.


At one o'clock, having heard a report that St. Michael's Church was stored with ammunition and occupied by an armed force of Catholics, he leapt the fence and made an investigation, but found no ammunition, nor arms, nor men. The militia and the sheriff's

posse remained on duty all night.


The rage of the mob was evidenced most horribly in an incident during the height of the battle. John Taggart, who very likely had been one of the men in the upper chamber of the hose house, rushed out of a building in a desperate attempt to escape. He was taken prisoner by the Nativists and some were for hanging him immediately on a hook in the market, while others demanded that he be torn to pieces. However, those who held him determined to take him to Alderman Boileau's office on Second Street. He was shockingly kicked and beaten as they dragged him along, so that when he was brought into the office he was more dead than alive. The alderman immediately commissioned a group of the Nativists to take him to the Northern Liberties Watch House, but what they did was to drag him back to the Nanny Goat Market, where, of course, the mob took possession of him. They put a rope about his neck and suspended him from an awning railing, but the rope broke; they strung him up again, and this time the railing broke. Then two or three men grabbed the rope and pulled him by the neck, while the mob kicked him and beat him with clubs and muskets. At length they thought he was dead and abandoned him. But strange to say, John Taggart was not dead; he must have been an extremely hard man to kill. Later someone observed a spark of life in him and he was borne - none too gently we can be certain - to the Watch House, where he was kept only for two or three hours and then sent to the County Prison. That is all that is in the records about this unfortunate Catholic, whose only crime was resistance to the violence of these Protestant fanatics.


Six Native Americans were killed on Tuesday and seven were seriously wounded; many others received slight wounds. It is not known how many Catholics perished, probably nine or ten.


During the day the bishop had issued this proclamation to his people:


"To the Catholics of the City and County of Philadelphia.


"The melancholy riots of yesterday, which resulted in the death of several of our fellow-beings, call for our deep sorrow. It becomes all who have had any share in this tragic scene, to humble themselves before God, and to sympathize deeply and sincerely with those whose relatives and friends have fallen. I earnestly conjure all to avoid all occasion of excitement and to shun public places of assemblage, and to do nothing that can in any way exasperate. 'Follow peace with all men, and charity, without which no man can see God!'

"May 7th, 1844.               + Francis Patrick, Bp. of Phila."


This announcement had been printed in the form of bills and posted in all directions through the City and County. Boys, however, had amused themselves peeling the bills off the walls. One of them had been read from the platform at the Native American meeting in the State House Yard in the afternoon.


It was rumored that a meeting of prominent Catholics had been held in the evening at the Cathedral of St. John for the purpose of considering and adopting measures for allaying the excitement.


Wednesday, May 8th


At daybreak there was a great stir in the western section of Kensington and the upper part of the Northern Liberties.


Catholic families who had remained in their homes after the disorder of Monday, hoping there would be no further outbreaks, and had been afraid to leave Tuesday evening when the streets were swarming with Nativists, were now in haste to depart, fearing for their lives. They loaded as much as possible of their belongings into carts, wagons, cabs, drays, and carried what they could. Groups set off in every direction except towards Kensington's eastern section; most of them did not know where to go for asylum, were simply thinking of getting away from the place of danger as quickly as possible. Poor mothers, some with infants in their arms, others with their brood of young children clinging to them frightenedly were everywhere seen trudging along. It was a heartrending spectacle, as sad as was ever witnessed in the worst persecutions. What with the streams of refugees, the demolished houses and the burnt area, it looked as if this part of Kensington were experiencing the horrors of war.


The Nativists began to muster about ten o'clock in the morning. They formed themselves into squads and broke into vacated houses on Jefferson Street, Master Street, Germantown Road and Cadwallader Street, stole what they could and destroyed what they could. There was a constant excitement of the militia's discovering smoldering fires among the ruins, and several hose and engine companies were running hither and thither under the protection of the Munroe Guards, who at eight o'clock had relieved the National Guard and Jackson Artillerists.


At noon the destructive work of the mob commenced in earnest. A small brick building in a court opposite the upper end of the market-place was set on fire. The hosemen and military quickly subdued the flames. Then another house on American Street was ignited and this burnt to the ground. Five frame dwellings in Harmony Court, off Cadwallader Street above Jefferson, were fired and totally destroyed. The report spread that some of the Irish Catholic families of the district had taken refuge in a group of dwellings at Ninth and Poplar Streets, and a section of the mob set off to do them - women and children they were - further injury. They applied their firebrands to all the houses not protected by the American Flag and burnt them to the ground. Many women and children must have perished in the flames.


In these riots, let it be remarked, many Catholics could have saved themselves from attack by displaying the American Flag or printing "Native American" on the walls of their homes. But either sign would have been interpreted as an acceptance of Native Americanism, hence, in the last analysis, as a denial of their Faith. The Catholics loved the Flag as much as any other group, most of them had come across the sea to find peace, security, opportunity under its protection; but the Nativists had so debased it by their use that to lay claim to it in these circumstances would have been akin to apostasy.


The cry now was, "On to St. Michael's," and they rushed by various ways to the edifice. At two o'clock this part of Second Street was dense with people. They began hurling stones at the church and rectory. The military were standing in formation before the buildings, offering no resistance. The Wayne Artillerists, Munroe Guards, Lafayette Light Guards and the Independent Rifle Corps were there. Father William Loughran had not yet left his house, and he must have thought that there was now no likelihood of his escaping. A small, sickly man he was, but fearless and capable of great heroism in his devotion to duty. Captain Fairlamb of the Wayne Artillery Corps asked him for his keys, and having obtained them made a thorough search of the priest-house and church and then announced to the mob that he had found no arms nor ammunition, that the buildings were without defense. Whether he did this to pacify the Nativists or for a dastardly purpose we can only wonder. At any rate, carelessly or intentionally, the front door of the church was left unlocked.


A house at the corner of American and Jefferson Streets was ablaze, so a detachment was sent off. The remaining troops fell into some disorder. Three young men walked through their ranks, entered the church by the front door and set the edifice on fire. At this stage Father Loughran consented to leave. A cab was commandeered by the military and they escorted him to a place of safety in a wild dash through the congested streets.


Father Donaghoe had been at St. Michael's that morning, had offered up the Holy Sacrifice here. At what hour he left is not in the records, but we have testimony that he witnessed the burning of the church he had built from the cupola of St. Augustine's. It seems highly probable to me that when news was brought of the first movement towards the church, he had departed hurriedly with the Blessed Sacrament and the sacred vessels. Father Loughran, as pastor in fact if not in title, would assert his right and duty of remaining at his post.


The flames ate their way rapidly, leapt out at the windows, rose in smoked-wrapped volumes high above the roof. When the cross fell to the pavement a great cheer was given. A fife and drum corps played the "Boyne Waters," the favorite tune of the Orangemen. Some of the mob went into the cemetery and tore up graves and attempted to demolish tombstones in their demoniacal rage.


The roof of the rectory caught fire and many rushed into the building to grab what they could for themselves. Furniture, books, clothing were carried out; some articles were thrown out the windows and eagerly snatched up. A large frame building to the south of the church, known as the Second Street Refectory, the property of a Mr. McCreedy, two smaller frame structures below it and a large frame weaver's factory in the rear of them were ignited by the sparks. Fire companies were on the scene but were prevented from doing anything. During this awful conflagration the mob yelled and danced like a horde of devils.


By four o'clock the destruction of church and rectory was complete. The fire had spent itself, but not the fury of the Nativists. Word was passed to move down to the convent at Second and Thompson Streets. Here they tore down the wooden fence, partially burnt on Monday evening, smashed in the front door, and while some spread through the rooms and beat out windows and shutters, others kindled a fire in the vestibule. After the building had been gutted by the flames the military came down from the ruins of the church.


It was undoubtedly the policy of the military commanders not to oppose the Nativists, but to make a pretense of giving protection by stationing their men where no further destruction was possible and hence no disturbance was apprehended. Strong cordons of troops were now posted about the ruined Catholic edifices while the mob went about the neighborhood working havoc. Indeed the grocery store right opposite the convent site, the Temperance Store as it was called, of John Corr, was broken into before the eyes of the military, was ransacked and greatly damaged; and a brick dwelling on another corner at Second and Thompson Streets was set on fire.


A fresh body of troops approached Kensington shortly after five o'clock. It was an inspiring spectacle. Major General Patterson was in supreme command and rode with the sheriff at the head of the column. There were the First City Troop, many independent volunteer corps led by General Cadwallader and Colonel Page, then the First Division of the Pennsylvania Militia. They came by way of Fourth Street. At Girard Avenue Patterson divided the force, instructing Cadwallader to proceed over Girard Avenue to Second Street and up Second with the City Troop, Philadelphia Grays and Junior Artillerists, and ordering Page with many other companies to continue up Fourth and turn over Jefferson Street to Second, at which point the two detachments were to join. He himself with the First Division was shortly to follow Cadwallader.


Colonel Page started first and upon reaching Second Street saw a disturbance going on below Master Street and marched down. It seemed for a moment or two that a pitched battle would take place, for the mob moved defiantly to meet the bayonets of the soldiers. But there was only a parley. Colonel Page admonished the leaders of the Nativists that order must be kept and promptly marched his men back.


General Cadwallader now came up Second Street with his force. Then the First Division of Pennsylvania Militia with Patterson and the sheriff on horseback at the head. The crowd cheered wildly and rushed off to Fourth and Master Streets where they attacked the house of Alderman Hugh dark and that of his brother, Patrick, the corner property adjoining, used as dwelling and tavern. They wrecked these two buildings rather completely. They ransacked and demolished the store and dwelling of Patrick Murray at Jefferson Street and Germantown Road. The house of Michael Quinn on Master Street was set on fire. A row of frame dwellings in another court off Cadwallader Street was burnt to the ground.


The only arrests made during all this violence and incendiarism were of two Catholics, Patrick Campbell and John Holmes, who were charged with suspicion of being implicated in the riot of Tuesday. The Nativists were not satisfied; they were drunk with victory, thirsting for more destruction, frenzied by their own violence. They had wiped, burned, the ugly blot of Catholicism from the District of Kensington. It offered nothing to them now; they would strike elsewhere. They began moving towards St. Augustine's. At half-past eight o'clock every avenue leading to the church was choked with them. Mayor Scott, who during the day had issued a proclamation stating that the spirit of disorder was about to extend itself to the City and calling on all good citizens to enroll themselves as emergency-police, arrived with a body of City Watchmen, and standing on top of a cab in front of St. George's Methodist Church, which is opposite St. Augustine's, addressed the mob. They interrupted him again and again with shouts of derision. While he was yet speaking they started a bombardment of the church with missiles, so that the watchmen who had been stationed about it were forced to withdraw It was set on fire just before nine o'clock - the clock was striking the hour when the first flames appeared. When the cross toppled from the steeple for the second time that day the mob greeted the sight with diabolical glee.


The monastery, the back of which was against the rear of the church and which faced on Crown Street, was said to have caught fire. Adjacent to it was St. Augustine's Academy, which also was burnt to the ground. The priceless library of the Augustinians, perhaps the best collection of books that had yet existed in America, perished in the flames. So the Nativists repaid the charity of Father Hurley and his brother priests, who in 1832, during the dreadful days of the cholera epidemic, had converted the church buildings of St. Augustine’s into hospitals in which Catholics and non-Catholics were received and treated alike.


Fire companies, all that were not actively engaged in Kensington, had come on the scene, and by their strenuous efforts confined the flames to the property of the Catholic Church. But troops (except the First City Troop, which had been driven off immediately) did not come - though West Kensington, desolate, with nothing to be guarded but ruins, was swarming with them - until once more the mob had finished its work.


Church, monastery, academy were completely destroyed. The fanatics had struck another terrible blow. But when dawn broke there was to be seen above the jumbled, blackened remains of this Christian temple over where the altar had stood upon which the great Sacrifice of the New Law had been offered daily for years, dreadful in its significance, the legend, "The Lord Seeth:"


The excitement had continued through the night. Hostile demonstrations were made against St. Mary's and St. John's. But the authorities, aroused at last to a realization of the danger to the whole community in this madness, had posted very strong forces at these edifices, and the Nativists were driven off. About fifty buildings besides the church properties had been destroyed on Wednesday.



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Old St Michaels