Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1834)

carouselOn Tuesday, August 12, 1834 a white mob consisting of several hundred people attacked a building in Philadelphia which housed the Flying Horses, a popular carousel that served both blacks and whites in the area. The mob destroyed the building and fought against any black people (and presumably others) who offered resistance in this attack.


Estimated people involved in this conflict. After the building that housed the Flying Horses was destroyed, this group moved out of the city and into a nearby district, Moyamensing. Moyamensing formed the core of black residents in the area. Here ensued destruction and pillaging.


The rioters were chiefly young men, some of them Irish, some with criminal records, who occupied some of the lowest paying jobs in the area and lived in close proximity to the Flying Horses.



In the depressed economy of 1834, blacks and the portion of the population who engaged in rioting were often in competition with each other for the scarce, low-paying  jobs that were available. This job competition contributed to tension between the groups.fourthousanddollars


Estimated damage caused as a result of the riot in 1834 dollars. Within the context of this poor area of Philadelphia, this damage was significant.


Special constables sworn in to restore peace once the rioting took hold.



Relevant events that occurred in the days leading up to the riot.

  • On August 8, a group of blacks attacked some members of the Fairmount Engine Company and took possession of some of their equipment.
  • On August 9, the son of one of Philadelphia’s prominent black families was attacked by a group of 50-60 young whites.
  • August 11, an altercation between a group of whites and a group of blacks happened at the Flying Horse.


Days of rioting that took place.



Rioters focused primarily on property. Homes were looted and destroyed. Also, churches were targeted. The justification for destroying the churches was grounded in complaints about the sounds associated with black worship services. Some community members found these sounds a nuisance and unnecessarily loud, or “disorderly and noisy.”


Whites who lived in the area where the rioting took place identified their property by placing candles in their windows to prevent it from being destroyed.

60Number of rioters who were arrested. Ten of these rioters were appeared in court.


Number of rioters who were fined, jailed or otherwise punished for their involvement with this riot.


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