The Snow Riot: Riot and Lynch Mob Attack on Free Blacks in Washington DC

0 Posted by - April 22, 2018 - Black History, History, Injustices, LATEST POSTS

The Snow Riot occurred in August of 1835 in Washington, D.C. The riot and lynch mob was an attack on free blacks in the city by whites. Anything during that time pertaining to blacks, whites wreaked havoc for days by robbing and destroying all of their establishments. The name of the riot comes from one of the first destinations the mob attacked, the restaurant owned by a free black man, Beverly Snow’s Epicurean Eating House. After attacking the restaurant, the mob destroyed the school Arthur Bowen went to because he was suspected of being taught the abolition of slavery there.

The larger context of the attack on the school was the white working-class men’s frustration over free blacks’ ability to work, and their resentment of black competition for jobs. The clear result was the unleashing of white terror against blacks. The riot began on

August 12, 1835, and continued for days in the nation’s capital, and it was not until President Andrew Jackson intervened that it stopped. The Snow Riot was a critical event that occurred 25 years before the American Civil War. In 1835, the city of Washington was facing an unprecedented tension between abolitionists and slavery defenders. The tension was so high because the largest amount of fatalities caused by a slave uprising had occurred only a few years prior to the Snow Riot, with Nat Turner’s slave rebellion of 1831. Panic and fear had since spread across the States. Because of this, there were abolitionists flooding the city with extremely loud voices and protests for the removal of slaves in the nation’s capital. However, there were also a significant number of whites waiting for their moment to avenge the slave uprising of 1831.

The event that sparked the riots in 1835 was when an inebriated slave, Arthur Bowen, came into his mistress Anna Thorton’s bedroom with an ax. Bowen did not strike or attempt to strike his mistress. However, the sheer fact that a slave had the opportunity to rebel against slave owners and whites infuriated slavery defenders in the city. Bowen was ultimately taken into custody without harm, as this gave proslavery advocates an opportunity to go after the man leading the production and distribution of abolitionist material, Reuben Crandall.

The incident set off Washington’s first race riot. After attacking the restaurant, the mob destroyed the school, because he was suspected of teaching the abolition of slavery there. The larger context of the attack on the school was the white working-class men’s frustration over free blacks’ ability to work, and their resentment of black competition for jobs. The clear result was the unleashing of white terror against blacks. The riot continued for days in the nation’s capital, and it was not until President Andrew Jackson intervened that it stopped.

 

sources:

African American Registry

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