Philadelphia Black Republicans

Men Of Color to Arms!  To Arms! (Philadelphia: U. S. Steam Power Book and Job Establishment, 1863).

            The signers of this dramatic call to arms represent the leadership of the Philadelphia black community – educators, clergymen, businessmen, and political activists – who were instrumental in getting out the black vote for the Republican Party.   Many were soon disillusioned as Republicans took them for granted, offered little in the way of patronage, and supported the interests of manufacturers who never hired black workers.  But the vast majority of Philadelphia blacks remained loyal to the party of emancipation, some even at the risk to their lives. White Democratic mobs attacked blacks to keep them from the polls, and in October 1871 murdered black educator and Republican activist Octavius Catto (above), one of the signers of this broadside, as he mobilized the black vote in a local election. The black community had long suffered from white mob violence and expected protection from such criminal elements by the powerful Republican machine that controlled the police.  Philadelphia African Americans were “law and order” voters.

Printed letter from the Adjutant General’s Office to Thomas Webster of Philadelphia, Washington, June 22d, 1863, authorizing the raising of “colored regiments” in Philadelphia.     

Octavius Catto, in Harper’s Weekly, October 28, 1871.