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Race

Best Response to Confederate Monuments: More Monuments

Written by Joe Scudder

The monument of Octavius Catto is far better than vandalizing Confederate monuments.

Amid the recent moral panic over Confederate monuments in the U.S., I hope more people learn about Octavius Catto. Catto is getting a monument in Philadelphia because of his activism on behalf of black men, fighting for their right to vote—sometimes literally because of Democrat criminality in an attempt to prevent blacks from voting.

In fact, that is how he was killed.

The Inquirer published an editorial: “A monument at last for Octavius Catto, who changed Philadelphia.

When Octavius V. Catto was only 32, he was gunned down on South Street as marauding whites created havoc on municipal election day in 1871.

Educator, scholar, writer, pioneering baseball player, and fearless civil rights activist, Catto had fought unflaggingly for an equitable society in the wake of the Civil War. He successfully protested to desegregate Philadelphia’s trolleys, he fought to pass constitutional amendments enfranchising black citizens, and then he worked to bring those new black voters to the polls.

He was rewarded with an assassin’s bullet and erasure from the history books.

But now, more than 140 years after his death, Catto and the values of equity and fairness he sought to make central to civic life are being recognized and celebrated with a major public memorial to be unveiled and dedicated at 11 a.m. Tuesday on the southwest apron of City Hall.

It becomes the first public monument honoring a specific African American on the city’s public landscape.

I share the writer’s enthusiasm, but I wonder if stuff is still being censored.

I wonder how long it will take for someone to complain that Catto was never a slave. According to Wikipedia (emphasis added):

Octavius Catto was born free in Charleston, South Carolina, as his mother was free: Sarah Isabella Cain was a member of the city’s prominent mixed-race DeReef family, which had been free for decades and belonged to the Brown Fellowship Society as a mark of their status. His father, William T. Catto, had been a slave millwright in South Carolina and gained his freedom. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister before taking his family north, first to Baltimore, and then to Philadelphia where they settled. Pennsylvania abolished slavery before the Revolutionary War ended. William T. Catto was a founding member of the Banneker Institute in that city and author of “A Semi-Centenary Discourse,” a history of the First African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

Wikipedia mentions some aspects of the opposition Catto faced, which ended his life eventually, that also might not be acceptable in today’s political climate.

Black voters, who were mostly Republican, faced intimidation and violence from white voters, especially ethnic Irish, who were partisans of the city’s Democratic machine. Irish immigrants had entered the city in great numbers during and after the Great Famine of the 1840s; they competed with free blacks for jobs and housing. City police were called on to quell the violence. Instead, often ethnic Irish themselves, they exacerbated the problems, using their power to prevent black citizens from voting. A Lieutenant Haggerty was later arrested for having encouraged police under his command to keep African Americans from voting.

So, immigrants were hostile to American natives that had been in the country longer and were… Black. I haven’t found out yet how early and how thoroughly the Irish dominated the police force in Philadelphia, but Haggerty is an ethnic Irish name. And Catto was shot dead by Frank Kelly, who was ethnic Irish and a Democrat.

This reminds me of Ann Coulter’s debate with some girl from the Young Turks where she pointed out that African Americans are especially hurt by illegal immigration. (If you don’t have time to hear the whole thing go to 1:55, or even 3:20).

Read the entire Inquirer article.

(By the way, if it matters to anyone, I would guess that I have Irish ancestors.)

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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