Riots in Baltimore - History Repeats Itself


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  • Riots in Baltimore 1861
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Porter Square Protest
  • End Police Terrorism
  • Justice for Freddie Gray
Jonathan Daniels Freedom Rider from Massachusetts Murdered for the Cause

Because I  am from the Maryland area, I watch events unfold in Baltimore here in Cambridge with sorrowful objectivism. I always hope for the best in mankind, but my heart is heavy for yet another mother that mourns her son. 

Perhaps it is because I have sons, I can empathize.  However, watching events unfold from Cambridge makes me feel a little like a spectator.  In that respect, I can relate to others who are far removed from the situation.  Those who fill Facebook and Twitter space with derogatory statements and racist labels,  sympathizing with property owners loss over human loss.  My heart goes out to everyone.  Those who get it and even those you have yet to be enlightened.  Because whether we understand now or not, it will become apparent that oppression and systemic racism will always fester and boil under the skin of a nation.  The infection of hatred will always come to a head.  The boil erupted in Baltimore in 2015 just as it erupted in Boston in 1861. 

The only thing we as individuals have to decide is what side of history will be recorded as standing on.  Will we stand for truth, integrity, love, human justice.  Or will we stand on the side of greed, bigotry, and human exploitation? Burned buildings can be rebuilt, broken panes replaced, damaged police cars, and bruised egos can be recovered.  The murder of an innocent man will require a much higher cost, for you see, only God can create life.  Judgement and justice will come. 

The greater concern is not when, but what will history record of the world, of Baltimore,of us in Cambridge?

In March 1965, Daniels answered the call of Dr. Martin Luther King, who recruited students and clergy to join the movement in Selma, Alabama, to take part in the march for voting rights from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. Daniels and several other seminary students left for Alabama on Thursday, intending to stay the weekend. After Daniels and friend Judith Upham missed the bus home, they had second thoughts about their short stay. The two returned to the seminary just long enough to request permission to spend the rest of the semester working in Selma, where they would also study on their own and return at the end of the term to take exams. Daniels stayed with the Wests, a local African-American family. During the next months, Daniels worked to integrate the local Episcopal church by taking groups of young African Americans to the church; members were not welcoming. In May, Daniels returned to the seminary to take his semester exams and passed.

He returned to Alabama in July to continue his work. Daniels helped assemble a list of federal, state, and local agencies that could provide assistance to those in need. He also tutored children, helped poor locals apply for aid, and worked to register voters. That summer, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act on August 2, 1965, which would provide federal oversight and enforcement of the constitutional right. Before that, blacks had been effectively disfranchised across the South since the turn of the century.


On August 14, 1965, Daniels was one of a group of 29 protesters, including members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), who went to Fort Deposit, Alabama to picket its whites-only stores. All of the protesters were arrested and taken to jail in the nearby town of Hayneville. The police released five juvenile protesters the next day. The rest of the group was held for six days; they refused to accept bail unless everyone was bailed.

Finally, on August 20, the prisoners were released without transport back to Fort Deposit. After release, the group waited near the courthouse jail while one of their members called for transport. Daniels with three others—a white Catholic priest and two black female activists—walked to buy a cold soft drink at nearby Varner's Cash Store, one of the few local places to serve non-whites. But barring the front was Tom L. Coleman, an unpaid special deputy who was holding a shotgun and had a pistol in a holster. He threatened the group and leveled his gun at seventeen-year-old Ruby Sales. Daniels pushed her down and caught the full blast of the gun. He was instantly killed. Father Richard F. Morrisroe grabbed Joyce Bailey and ran with her. Coleman shot Morrisroe, severely wounding him in the lower back, but stopped at that.[4]

Upon learning of Daniels' murder, Martin Luther King, Jr. stated "one of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry was performed by Jonathan Daniels".[5]

A grand jury indicted Coleman for manslaughter. Richmond Flowers, Sr., the Attorney General of Alabama, believed the charge should have been murder and intervened in the prosecution, but was thwarted by the trial judge. He refused to wait until Morrisroe had recovered enough to testify and removed Flowers from the case. Coleman claimed self-defense and was acquitted of manslaughter charges by an all-white jury.[6][7] (Disfranchisement had resulted in excluding blacks from jury duty, as only voters were called.) Flowers described the verdict as representing the "democratic process going down the drain of irrationality, bigotry and improper law enforcement."[8]

Coleman continued working as an engineer for the state highway department. He died at the age of 86 on June 13, 1997, without having faced further prosecution.[6]

Direct copy from

The Baltimore riot of 1861 (also called the Pratt Street Riot and the Pratt Street Massacre) was a conflict on April 19, 1861, in Baltimore, Maryland, between anti-War Democrats (the largest party in Maryland), as well as Confederate sympathizers, and members of the Massachusetts militia en route to Washington for Federal service. It produced the first deaths by hostile action in the American Civil War.[1]



In 1861, most Baltimoreans were anti-War, and did not support a violent conflict with their southern neighbors. Many sympathized passionately with the Southern cause. In the previous year's presidential election, Abraham Lincoln had received only 1,100 of more than 30,000 votes cast in the city.[2] Lincoln's opponents were infuriated (and supporters disappointed) when the president-elect, fearing an assassination plot, traveled secretly through the city in February en route to his inauguration. The city was also home to the country's largest population (25,000) of free African Americans, as well as many white abolitionists and supporters of the Union.[3] As the war began, the city's divided loyalties created tension.[4] Supporters of secession and slavery organized themselves into a force called "National Volunteers" while unionists and abolitionists called themselves "Minute Men."[5]

The American Civil War began on April 12, one week before the riot. At the time, the slave states of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas had not yet seceded from the U.S. The status of Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky (later known as "border states"), remained unknown. When Fort Sumter fell (without casualties) on April 13, the Virginia legislature took up a measure on secession. The measure passed on April 17 with little debate. Virginia's secession was particularly significant due to the state's industrial capacity. Sympathetic Marylanders, who had supported secession ever since John C. Calhoun spoke of nullification, agitated to join Virginia in leaving the Union. Their discontent increased in the days afterward when Lincoln put out a call for volunteers to serve 90 days and end the insurrection.

New militia units from several Northern states were starting to transport themselves south, particularly to protect Washington, D.C., from the new Confederate threat in Virginia. Baltimore Mayor George William Brown and new Police Marshal (chief) George Proctor Kane anticipated trouble and began efforts to placate the city's population.[6]

On April 18, 460 newly mustered Pennsylvania volunteers (generally from the Pottsville, Pennsylvania area) arrived from Harrisburg on the Northern Central Railway at the Bolton Street Station off North Howard Street (present site of the later Fifth Regiment Armory).[7] They were joined by several regiments of regular United States Army troops under John C. Pemberton (later the Confederate general and commander at the siege of Vicksburg in Mississippi whose surrender in July 1863, resulted in the first split of the Confederacy) returning from duty on the western frontier. They split off from Howard Street in downtown Baltimore and marched over east to Fort McHenry and reported for duty there. Seven hundred "National Volunteers" of southern sympathizers rallied at the Washington Monument and traveled to the station to confront the combined units of troops, which unbeknownst to them were unarmed and had weapons unloaded.[5] Kane's city police force generally succeeded in ensuring the Pennsylvania troops' safe passage marching south on Howard Street to Camden Street Station of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Nevertheless, stones and bricks were hurled (along with many insults) and Nicholas Biddle, a Black servant traveling with the regiment, was hit on the head. But that night, the Pennsylvania troops, later known as "The First Defenders" camped at the U.S. Capitol under the uncompleted dome, which was under construction.[8]

April 19, 1861

Union route through Baltimore, as later depicted by Mayor George Brown

On April 17, the Sixth Massachusetts Militia departed from Boston, Massachusetts, arriving in New York the following morning and Philadelphia by nightfall. On April 19, the unit headed on to Baltimore, where they anticipated a slow transit through the city. Because of an ordinance preventing the construction of steam rail lines through the city, there was no direct rail connection between the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad's President Street Station and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Camden Station (ten blocks to the west).[9] Rail cars that transferred between the two stations had to be pulled by horses along Pratt Street.[10]

Sometime after leaving Philadelphia, the unit's Colonel Edward F. Jones received information that passage through Baltimore "would be resisted".[11] According to his later report, Jones went through the railroad cars and gave this order:

The regiment will march through Baltimore in column of sections, arms at will. You will undoubtedly be insulted, abused, and, perhaps, assaulted, to which you must pay no attention whatever, but march with your faces to the front, and pay no attention to the mob, even if they throw stones, bricks, or other missiles; but if you are fired upon and any one of you is hit, your officers will order you to fire. Do not fire into any promiscuous crowds, but select, any man whom you may see aiming at you, and be sure you drop him.[12]

Indeed, as the militia regiment transferred between stations, a mob of anti-War supporters and Southern sympathizers attacked the train cars and blocked the route. When it became apparent that they could travel by horse no further, the troops got out of the cars and marched in formation through the city. However, the mob followed the soldiers, breaking store windows and causing damage until they finally blocked the soldiers. The mob attacked the rear companies of the regiment with "bricks, paving stones, and pistols."[13] In response, several soldiers fired into the mob, beginning a giant brawl between the soldiers, the mob, and the Baltimore police. In the end, the soldiers got to the Camden Station, and the police were able to block the crowd from them. The regiment had left behind much of their equipment, including their marching band's instruments.

Four soldiers (Corporal Sumner Needham of Co I and Privates Luther C. Ladd, Charles Taylor, and Addison Whitney of Company D)[14][15] and twelve civilians were killed in the riot. About 36 of the regiment were also wounded and left behind. It is unknown how many additional civilians were injured.[16] Sumner Henry Needham is sometimes considered to be the first Union casualty of the war, though he was killed by civilians in a Union state. Needham is buried in Lawrence, Massachusetts.[17] Ladd and Whitney are buried in Lowell, Massachusetts.[18] Taylor was buried in Baltimore; though his grave was lost, his name appears on the Lowell Monument.[15]

The same day, after the attack on the soldiers, the office of the Baltimore Wecker, a German-language newspaper, was completely wrecked and the building seriously damaged by the same mob. The publisher, William Schnauffer, and the editor, Wilhelm Rapp, whose lives were threatened, were compelled to leave town. The publisher later returned and resumed publication of the Wecker which continued throughout the war a firm supporter of the Union cause.[19] The editor moved to another paper in Illinois.[20]

As a result of the riot in Baltimore and pro-Southern sympathies of much of the city's populace, the Baltimore Steam Packet Company also declined the same day a Federal government request to transport Union forces to relieve the beleaguered Union naval yard facility at Portsmouth, Virginia.[21]


In Brown's later assessment, it was the Baltimore riot that pushed the two sides over the edge into full-scale war, "because then was shed the first blood in a conflict between the North and the South; then a step was taken which made compromise or retreat almost impossible; then passions on both sides were aroused which could not be controlled".[22]

On July 10, 1861, a grand jury of the United States District Court indicted Samuel Mactier, Lewis Bitter, James McCartney, Philip Casmire, Michael Hooper and Richard H. Mitchell for their part in the riot.[23]

After the April 19 riot, some small skirmishes occurred throughout Baltimore between citizens and police for the next month, but a sense of normalcy returned as the city was cleaned up. Mayor Brown and Maryland Governor Hicks implored President Lincoln to send no further troops through Maryland to avoid further confrontations. However, as Lincoln remarked to a peace delegation from the Young Men's Christian Association, Union soldiers were neither birds to fly over Maryland, nor moles to burrow under it.[24] On the evening of April 20 Hicks also authorized Brown to dispatch the Maryland state militia for the purpose of disabling the railroad bridges into the city—an act he would later deny. One of the militia leaders was John Merryman, who was arrested one month later, and held in defiance of a writ of habeas corpus, which led to the case of Ex parte Merryman.[25]

On April 19, Major General Robert Patterson, commander of the Department of Washington (Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia), ordered Brigadier General Benjamin Franklin Butler, with the 8th Massachusetts, to open and secure a route from Annapolis through Annapolis Junction to Washington. The 8th Massachusetts arrived by ship at Annapolis on April 20. Gov. Hicks and the Mayor of Annapolis protested, but Butler (a clever politician) bullied them into allowing troops to land at Annapolis, saying, "'I must land, for my troops are hungry.'—'No one in Annapolis will sell them anything,' replied these authorities of the State and city. Butler intimated that armed men were not always limited to the necessity of purchasing food when famished."[26]

The 8th Massachusetts, with the 7th New York, proceeded to Annapolis Junction (halfway between Baltimore and Washington), and the 7th New York went on to Washington, where, on the afternoon of April 25, they became the first troops to reach the capital by this route.[27]

There is nothing new here.  This article is a direct copy from Wikipedia and