Episode 133: The 1844 Philadelphia Riots

 
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In 1844, Philadelphia, a hub for Irish immigration to the United States, witnessed a series of violent Nativist riots that targeted Irish Americans and Roman Catholic churches. In our season finale, Zachary Schrag discusses the events leading up to the Philadelphia Nativists Riots of 1844, who was there, and how it fits into the broader history of the century. Professor Schrag’s most recent book, The Fires of Philadelphia: Citizen-Soldiers, Nativists, and the 1844 Riots Over the Soul of a Nation (Pegasus Books, June 2021) is an account of the moment one of America’s founding cities turned on itself, giving the nation a preview of the Civil War to come. In the aftermath, the public debated both the militia’s use of force and the actions of the mob. Some of the most prominent nativists continued their rise to political power for a time, even reaching Congress, but they did not attempt to stoke mob violence again.

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