Friends of the Black Man Up North
From New York in 1712 (an era when blacks were burned at the stake there) to Cincinnati in 1841, the worst race riots and murders of black persons were committed north of Mason and Dixon’s Line—not in the American South. A pertinent question to ask today along with “why were Jim Crow laws found necessary,” is why black persons (below) were to not reenter Cincinnati unless white persons agreed to be answerable for their conduct.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Friends of the Black Man Up North:
“There was an abolition mob in Cincinnati a fortnight before my arrival, and the excitement had hardly subsided then. Let it be remembered, Ohio is a non-slave State. Two boys were playing near the canal, and bothering a Negro man, who got into a passion and stabbed one of them with a knife. The Negro was apprehended; but the citizens were so indignant at the outrage that they determined to hunt the Negroes out of the town altogether. For this purpose, they met at Fifth Street Market, some thousands strong, with rifles and two fieldpieces, and marched in regular order to the district of the city where the Negroes principally resided.
The blacks were numerous, and rumor said they were to show fight. Many of them had arms. Some said they fired on the citizens, and others not. There was some firing; but I could not ascertain if any of the blacks were killed, the accounts were so various. The end of the matter was, that they hounded them out of the town, and not a Negro durst show his black face in the town for a week. Many of them fled to the authorities of the town for protection; and the jail-yard was crowded with the poor creatures who had fled for their lives.
An arrangement was immediately come to, between the authorities and the citizens; to the effect that no Negro should be allowed to live in the city who could not find a white man to become his security, and be answerable for his conduct. There were two days of mobbing. The second day they gutted an abolition establishment, and sunk the press in the middle of the Ohio River, where it now lies…”
(Lynch Law—North and South, William Thomson, The Leaven of Democracy, Clement Eaton, editor, Braziller Press, 1963, page 424)