Tag Archives: Black History Month

Ku-Klux in Philadelphia: Death of Octavius V. Catto

Octavius Valentine Catto (February 22, 1839 – October 10, 1871) was a black educator, intellectual, and civil rights activist in Philadelphia. He became principal of male students at the Institute for Colored Youth, where he had also been educated. Born free in Charleston, South Carolina, in a prominent mixed-race family, he moved north as a boy with his family. He became educated and served as a teacher. As a man, he also became known as a top cricket and baseball player in 19th-century Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Coverage of his murder appeared in the October 21, 1871 issue of The National Standard: A Women’s Suffrage and Temperance Journal

Ku-Klux in Philadelphia: Death of Octavius V. Catto

(The National Standard, October 21, 1871) The death of Octavius V. Catto, one of the victims of the disgraceful riot in Philadelphia on the 10th inst., (the day of the State election in Pennsylvania), is an illustration of the caste spirit not prevailing in our midst, as virulent, if not as potent, as the murderous hatred animating the Ku-Klux banditti of the South. In the city of the North, the classic birth-place of Independence, the city the home of so many philanthropies, and owning so many of the illustrious, the benevolent and loyal-hearted as her children, in open day, guiltless of any offence save that he was of a despised race, a colored man, there was assassinated a patriot, a scholar, a Christian gentleman, whose life, character, and rareness of ability would have adorned any race or time.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).


Camp Sherman News - April 10, 1919

A Report on the First Negro Signal Corps (1919)

Prior to this great war there had never been a negro in the signal or engineer branches of the army. When the matter of a colored division came up, there was some doubt as to the ability of the negro to qualify for the highly specialized branches of the service that go to make up an army division.

Our collection, America and World War I: American Military Camp Newspapers, addresses a topic and period that continues to be of the widest interest and importance to scholars, students, and the general public – America in the World War I Era. Camp newspapers make important original source material—much of it written by soldiers for soldiers—readily available for research.


Frederick Douglass Paper 1852-02-12

Cassius M. Clay: “The Blacks Should Get Money”

The Free Negroes and Colonization

At the late Convention of colored people held in Cincinnati, the question of emigration was fully discussed, and a resolution passed against the plan of the African Colonization Society and in favor of emigration to some point on the American continent.

Various letters on this and on other topics of interest to the free blacks, were received from distinguished persons. Senator Wade, of Ohio, advised them to seek the elevation of their race by education, and engaging in respectable occupations. Hon. Horace Mann gave the same advice, and expressed his belief that their condition would one day be improved by the force of their developed capacity for acquiring the highest grades of education and for dignified employments.



Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman – Part 26

List of Subscribers to the Publishing Fund

Gerrit Smith — Peterboro, N. Y., — $25.00
Wendell Phillips — Boston, Mass., — $25.00
J. S. Seymour — Auburn, N. Y., — $25.00
D. M. Osborne — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
Chas. P. Wood — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
Wm. H. Seward, Jr. — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
J. N. Knapp — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
Rufus Sargent — Auburn, N. Y. — $25.00
H. Ivison — New York — $25.00
Timothy L. Barker — San Francisco, Cal., — $20.00
Wm. G. Wise — Auburn, N. Y., — $10.00
G. I. Letchworth — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
S. L. Bradley — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
I. F. Terrill. — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Abijah Fitch, — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
M. C./T. M. Pomeroy — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
F. L. Griswold — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Cyrenus Wheeler — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
John Chedell — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
David Wright — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Jo Iah Barber — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Geo. E. Barber — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
S. Willard, M. D. — Auburn, N. Y. — $10.00
Richard Steel, — Auburn, N. Y., — ‥ $5.00
C. H. Merriman, — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
J. Lewis Grant, — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
A. H. Goss — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
Christopher Morgan — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
J. M. Hurd — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
W. J. Sutton — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
Wm. A. Kirby — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
Thos. Mccrea — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
J. N. Starin — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00
C. P. Ford — Auburn, N. Y. — $5.00

Previously: An Essay on Woman Whipping — Part 4


Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman – Part 25

Woman-Whipping – Part Four

There is every reason to hope, therefore, that the Southern character, both male and female, will become gradually ameliorated by the changed condition under which it will hereafter be formed. It is a common error, one in which the Southern people themselves share, that there is something in their climate to nurse and to justify their “high spirit,” anglicé their quarrelsomeness and brutality of temper. It is very pleasant to lay off upon Nature or Providence what belongs only to will or institutions. A man indulges in violent passions with little restraint or remorse, so long as he can persuade himself he is merely what certain positive natural laws make him. What an opiate for a conscience defiled with lust and blood, to think that this is only natural to the “sunny South.” But in fact, the people of warm, temperate, and tropical regions are most commonly gentle of mood; the climate acts as an anodyne, and soothes them into a peaceful equilibrium of the passions. The negroes of the Southern States are not passionate or vindictive–well for their late masters and present persecutors that they are not! What they may become from the treatment they are experiencing from those preternatural and predestinated fools, is another question.

The only reason the “chivalry” are bad-tempered and quarrelsome, is found in that despotism in which they have been nursed, and which associates the idea of personal dignity with an instant resort to violence at any contradiction. But for slavery, the people of Mississippi would have been no more addicted to street fights, dueling, midnight assassinations, etc., than the people of Massachusetts. That the former have any advantage in respect to courage, has been sufficiently disproved by the rebellion. Whether the ex-Confederate ladies may or may not be able to “fire the Southern heart” for another attempt to overthrow the Government, it will at least never be done under the persuasion that one Southerner is equal to five or any other number above unity, of Yankees.

The traditions of slavery, indeed, will remain to keep alive among the late slaveholding caste, the insolent and unchristian temper on which they have prided themselves. But having no more helpless dependants to storm at and abuse, their valor will needs submit to gradual modifications. Some degree of self-government will become a necessity. It may require several generations; but institutions ceasing to corrupt them, the loss of wealth, the necessity of work and a new Gospel of peace, better than their old slaveholding Christianity, will gradually educate them into a law-abiding, orderly, and virtuous people.

The Southern woman will of course share early in this beneficent change–no longer perverted into a she-devil by the possession of unrestrained power, and paying just wages to servants, who, if not suited with their work, can leave without having to run off; her gentler virtues will have a chance to assert themselves: Her striking qualities will subside into a charming vivacity of temper. She will become a gracious and pious mater-familias; she will perhaps in time learn to apply to her own children a portion of that discipline of which her slaves enjoyed a monopoly. In short, there neither is nor ever was any reason, slavery excepted, why the Southern whites should not possess a character for industry, peacefulness, and religion, equal to that of the rural districts of New York and New England.

Thank God that we have lived to see such awful barbarisms extinct! In fifty years the last woman-whipper at the South will be as dead as Cleopatra; as dead as the pre-Adamite brute organizations. History will be ashamed to record their doings. The fictions in which they are enbalmed will be lost in the better coming era of morals and letters. By the time the South has been overflowed and regenerated by a beneficent inundation of Northern “carpet-baggers,” with Yankee capital and enterprise, it will be forgotten that a race capable of the crimes referred to in the preceding story, ever existed.


It is curiously illustrative of the mixed childishness and ferocity which characterizes the Southern civilization, that the Ku-Klux Klan — this secret association of ruffians, organized to terrorize the loyal South — styles itself by an absurd, misspelled name, and goes about on its nightly work of murder in harlequin costume, with one of its leaders acting the part of ghost, to frighten the superstitious blacks. Some more courageous freedman occasionally makes a bona fide ghost of this masquerade.

Previously: An Essay on Woman Whipping — Part 3
Next: List of Subscribers to the Publishing Fund

This is part of a multi-part series published to celebrate Black History Month in 2012. The list of published posts can be found at Book Directory: Scenes In The Life Of Harriet Tubman. Use the Stay In Touch box below to recieve e-mail notifications about new posts.

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