On Friday, August 18th, 1871, “The Riot at Ogdensburg” was the New-York Tribune’s title for its detailed overview on the speedy rise of an Irish mob three days earlier – which the paper labeled “a formidable riotous factor” – within the small, quiet port of Ogdensburg on the St. Lawrence River.
For 2 days, the mob’s menace of violence, and violence itself, was so intense that the mayor deputized practically 100 males to revive legislation and order.
The rioters had been incensed by the contentious content material of a touring speaker who rented the town’s Lyceum Corridor for 2 nights, and of their view freedom of speech was voided by the speaker’s dissection of Catholicism. Circulars had been distributed which described the lectures’ inevitable anti-Catholic theme.
The circulars additionally asserted that the lecturer was a former priest however this was broadly disputed, and analysis has not provided a solution if he was or was not an ex-clergyman. His title was Andre Massena however within the 1850s when he spoke within the British Isles he adopted an expert, or stage title, Baron de Camin. Even earlier than emigrating within the 1860s to Canada and America, he generated a fiery anti-Catholic, anti-Irish posture and status.
Just lately, two researchers have broadened the understanding of progress of Irish immigration to the Empire State. John Warren’s insightful three half collection within the New York Almanack in 2021 examined the expansion and unfold of anti-Irish sentiment that arose by the 1830s. On the Frederick Remington Artwork Museum in 2018 in Ogdensburg, SUNY Canton Professor Sean O’Brien participated within the annual Artwork Highlights and Tea lecture collection by presenting “Irish Settlement Roads: Nineteenth-Century Tales of Migration to the North Nation.” The enlargement of Irish settlers into the St. Lawrence Valley offered de Camin with an acceptable setting for anti-Catholic diatribes. Though no proof has been discovered that de Camin selected Ogdensburg on account of its non secular and ethnic demographics, these components resulted in the neighborhood confrontation.
Even earlier than de Camin’s arrival, preparations had been formulated based mostly on his lengthy status of denouncing Popery and nativism towards Irish-People. The town’s two Catholic clergymen knew what to anticipate from the Baron — nonstop poisoned insults. Throughout their Sunday companies, Father Mackey of St. Mary’s Irish Catholic Church and Father Jannotte of the French Catholic Church endorsed members of their respective congregations to avoid the Baron’s lecture, and, in line with The Ogdensburgh Republican on August twenty second, “in each approach chorus from something that ought to are inclined to disturb or intrude together with his assembly. The recommendation of each was very correct and commendable.”
The press mentioned little concerning the Baron’s arrival on the venue, or his opening remarks. “Tuesday night the speaker went to the Corridor and commenced his lecture,” was all of the Watertown Day by day Instances wrote the next day. However quickly the quiet setting would change. There was no revealed estimate on the dimensions of the viewers however all of a sudden, and dramatically, it elevated by practically three dozen boisterous Irishmen who sat the entrance row seats. After briefly stomping their ft, they charged de Camin whereas yelling threats on his life.
The New York Instances aptly and succinctly pictured the fast paced scenario in its problem on August seventeenth. The Baron’s “remarks being offensive to Roman Catholics current, he was vioently assaulted and the assembly damaged up. He was carried away in a carriage guarded by Police.” Quickly the Mayor was referred to as to the scene to revive order. As well as, there was extra for legislation enforcement to do – three rioters had been arrested and later indicted together with the alleged planner and chief, Thomas Daly together with Edward Cunningham and Patrick O’Reilly. They waived examination, and had been held for a courtroom look a couple of days later. Total, the newspaper reportage on the disposition of their circumstances differs. Nevertheless, the Utica Day by day Observer on August twenty eighth listed $30o fines for O’Reilly and Cunningham, and a $5,000 effective for Daly (an immense sum for riotous habits on the time).
There was a extra compelling results of the riot which might influence occasions the next day when the Baron was scheduled on the Lyceum for his second lecture. The Tribune described this lead to a abstract article on August nineteenth that centered on the growing scenario instantly after the riot as a result of it “created the best diploma of pleasure among the many Protestant portion of the group, and a whole bunch who wouldn’t in any other case have given the Baron an ear, decided to attend the second lecture, if for no different objective than to vindicate the proper of free speech.”
Ogdensburg was changing into religiously divisible, and the Baron’s subsequent choice didn’t loosen up it. De Camin issued a handbill addressed “To The Protestant Residents of Ogdensburg” (as reprinted in The New York Instances, August, seventeenth) by which he strongly said, “… on this nation, the place liberty of speech is assured …. however I used to be prevented from delivering final evening [the 15th] by a mob, who broke up my assembly and personally assaulted me…. As I’m to lecture once more this night in Lyceum Corridor, I attraction to you as residents of the USA and Protestants of Ogdensburg… that I shall not be robbed of my liberty.” Nevertheless, not solely did he not communicate at Lyceum, however he didn’t deal with any viewers in any respect.
On August 18th, The Instances reported that de Camin didn’t communicate as scheduled on the Corridor as a result of “a formidable riotous factor” of Irish awaiting his arrival. As well as, the Supervisor of Lyceum wouldn’t unlock the doorways, out of concern of harm ensuing from one other riot. For the second day in a row, de Camin was once more taken to Police Headquarters the place one other giant mob assembled. Instantly, authorities referred to as for volunteers which spurred numerous Protestants to reply to police headquarters the place they had been sworn in as particular policemen. The improved police pressure – later decided to be 130 – cleared the streets sufficient to return the Baron safely to his boarding home. Wednesday the sixteenth ended quietly however what would happen the following day?
In contrast with the earlier two days, the seventeenth developed with out fury and anger, and by the tip of the day, the Baron would current his second lecture which might vindicate the proper of free speech. In his dramatic Proclamation, Mayor William Proctor assured that freedom of speech can be secured, and the Frequent Council promised that the militia can be referred to as upon as wanted. The Baron circulated uneventfully all through the downtown — no mob assembled to confront him, and at one level he requested if the Mayor if he may lecture at Metropolis Corridor however this request was turned down.
Finally, he organized to talk on the metropolis skating rink to roughly 200 listeners, lots of whom requested him to delay his departure in order that he may lecture once more. The Mayor’s reply was unfavourable. However in 1871, extremism examined freedom of speech. Fanaticism was protected in a small metropolis on the St. Lawrence River, though the riot impacted not less than one future lecture collection.
The Troy Day by day Instances famous this influence on Friday, August, twenty second observing that “de Camin gained such notoriety by stirring up an Irish riot in Ogdensburgh that he drew an viewers of twenty-nine souls at his lecture in Syracuse Wednesday night.”
Picture: Andre Massena Baron De Camin article from the Ogdensburg Day by day Journal, August nineteenth, 1871.