In 1776, Pennsylvania became the first state to pass a law for the abolishment of slavery, and under the constitution of 1790, Black men had the right to vote. As the population of Black Americans began to grow in Philadelphia, white people became more afraid that they would eventually outnumbering the white population.
On August 12, 1834, the “Flying Horse” riot started in Philadelphia, during which an African American was killed and several areas of the city destroyed. A mob consisting of over 100 white people attacked a building which housed a carousel machine known as the “Flying Horses,” which was popular for both African Americans and whites who lived in the neighborhood. The mob destroyed the building and overcame the resistance of any black person who dared to retaliate.
After the mob destroyed the “Flying Horses,” they moved over to the district of Moyamening, which was considered an impoverished area with a high concentration of Black residents. The rioting lasted for three nights, during which several people were injured. White people protected their homes during the incident by putting a lamp in the window to let others know that a white person owned the property. Approximately 37 houses were looted and destroyed and several hundred people were left without anywhere to go.
Rioters described their actions as “hunting the nigs.” Estimated damage caused as a result of the riot in 1834 was $4,000, a significant amount during the time. Although rioters were arrested, no one was ever charged with a crime. Four years after the riot, Pennsylvania’s state constitution alienated African American males from exercising their right to vote.