Pennsylvania Hall
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Abolitionists opened Pennsylvania Hall on May 14, 1838. Three days later, a mob of white Philadelphians burned it down.

The short-lived hall was constructed primarily as a meeting place for abolitionists. Julie Winch is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts:

"It's built because various groups, particularly anti-slavery groups, were having problems finding venues for their meetings and rallies. Various groups are finding that they just are being turned down. So they decide, well, all right, if that's the situation, then we have to build a meeting place of our own."
Pennsylvania Hall, on the outside, was supported by large Greek columns. Inside, it housed spacious lecture and committee rooms and a bookstore that sold anti-slavery publications.

Emma Lapsansky is a professor and curator at Haverford College. She says the mob that formed to attack Pennsylvania Hall was motivated by something very specific:

"Shortly after they open the hall, there is a wedding among the white anti-slavery workers in Philadelphia, and black and white guests attend this wedding."
A few days later, the country's most prominent white and black female abolitionists gathered at the hall. Among them were Lucretia Mott and Angelina Grimke Weld.

Again, Julie Winch:

"The knowledge that anti-slavery people, particularly female anti-slavery supporters were going to have a big convention at this hall absolutely appalled a lot of rank and file white Philadelphians who saw this as a very dangerous and disruptive cause."
On May 16, a mob of about fifty people formed outside the hall. At first they prowled around the building, examining gas pipes and hissing at the speakers inside. Then the mob began to throw stones and bricks through the windows.

During the attack, Angelina Grimke Weld, a southern-born abolitionist, was inside the hall speaking to 3,000 people. As glass shattered around her, Weld remained shrewd.

"What is a mob? What would the breaking of every window be? What would the leveling of this Hall be? Any evidence that we are wrong or that slavery is a good and wholesome institution? What if the mob should now burst in upon us, break up our meeting, and commit violence upon our persons - would this be anything compared with what the slaves endure?"
The violence forced Grimke Weld and the others to leave Pennsylvania Hall.

The next day, the managers of the Hall called upon Mayor John Swift to protect the building. By sunset the mayor said he would disperse the mob but only if he could have possession of the building.

No meetings were held at the hall that night as the keys were delivered to the mayor. In a speech to the mob, the mayor said:

"We never called out the military here. We do not need such measures. Indeed, I would, fellow citizens, look upon you as my policeā€¦. I now bid you farewell for the night."
Soon after the mayor's departure, rioters forced open the doors to Pennsylvania Hall, set papers and blinds on fire, and turned gas pipes toward the flames. Police, firefighters, and the mayor refused to step in or put out the fire. According to some reports, some police officers and firefighters joined in the destruction of the building.

Julie Winch:

"It's particularly telling though in the Pennsylvania Hall episode, that this mayor who has been fairly forceful under other circumstances is the one who says pretty much - I've got the key; I'm going home. Really sending a message to the mob saying - I don't want to be here when anything happens, but I won't stop you. And there was much criticism of him among white reformers and black reformers in the aftermath of Pennsylvania Hall that if he had wanted he could have put a stop to this."
Even though it stood for just four days, Pennsylvania Hall became sort of a martyr for the cause. Charles Blockson is a curator at Temple University:

"It represents the togetherness of brave martyrs. It represents black, white, men and women. These were the people who were involved in the anti-slavery movement, their wells were poisoned, they were threatened, they went to jail. All kinds of evil things happened to these people."
The hall was never rebuilt, but abolitionists continued to organize and conduct their business in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Hall appeared in a poem by New Englander John G. Whittier, who had seen the hall briefly before it burned.

"How freedom's martyrs kept their faith,
True and unwavering, unto bonds and death,
The pencil's art shall sketch the ruined Hall,
The muses' garland crown its aged wall,
And History's pen for after time's record
Its consecration unto Freedom's God."
Joel Rose, WHYY News
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