The Baltimore Slavery Riot

Pro-slavery forces in Baltimore, a city that had given Abraham Lincoln only 1,100 of more than 30,000 votes cast the previous November, rioted on this date in 1861 as Union soldiers from Pennsylvania and Massachusetts arrived to secure the town, situated dangerously close to Washington, DC. The riot erupted only six days after hostilities had […]

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September 4: Inciting the Slaves

According to a New York Times report on this date in 1860, “Friederman and Rotenburg, two German Jew peddlers, have been arrested and examined by the Rusk Vigilance Committee” in Montgomery County, Texas. “The former was released, nothing being proven against him. Rotenburg was accused by several negroes [sic] of inciting them to insurrection. His […]

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February 14: Frederick Douglass’ Lover

Abolitionist champion Frederick Douglass was born a slave in Maryland in February, 1818 and chose this date as his birthday. He had a twenty-eight year love affair with Ottilie Assing, a writer and journalist who was the daughter of a prominent German Jewish doctor and a Lutheran mother. Assing emigrated to the U.S. in 1852 […]

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July 13: Draft Riots in New York

On the first of three days of “draft riots” in New York City, a mob gathered on this date in 1863 in front of the home (on West 34th Street and Eighth Avenue), of Jewish Republican leader and abolitionist Abram J. Dittenhoefer (1836-1919), shouting “Down with the abolitionists” and “Death to Dittenhoefer.” A messenger was […]

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May 17: The Impious Ernestine L. Rose

As reported in William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist paper, on this date in 1850, Ernestine L. Rose was booed at a meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society by a crowd of hecklers led by a Tammany Hall operative, Captain Rynders, who shouted, “I have always respected the presence of ladies, but I doubt very much whether […]

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March 9: The Abolitionist

Moritz Pinner, founder of a bilingual abolitionist newspaper, The Kansas Post, and an early activist within the Republican Party, was born in the Grand Duchy of Posen (Poland/Germany) on this date in 1828. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 24 and mastered English very quickly, as within five years of his […]

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July 14: Wilhelm Rapp, Abolitionist

Wilhelm Rapp, an emigré from the 1848 revolution in the German states who became an active abolitionist in the U.S., was born in southern Germany on this date in 1827. Rapp edited German-language newspapers in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Baltimore, where his anti-slavery views made him a target of mob violence in that Confederate-sympathizing city; during […]

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January 29: Ernestine Rose and Thomas Paine

Speaking at the annual Thomas Paine Dinner in New York on this date in 1848, Ernestine L. Rose, the “Queen of the Platform,” expressed not only her feminist and abolitionist beliefs but her anti-religious views when she denounced “superstition [that] keeps women ignorant, dependent, and enslaved beings. Knowledge will make them free. The churches have been […]

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