July 7 - 1834 - The New York Anti-Abolitionist Riots
New York in the 1830s was divided along a variety of ethnic, political, and economic lines. It was also a boom town experiencing a tremendous amount of immigration. So when anti-abolitionists went after the Chatham Street Chapel, which was hosting a congregation of African-Americans, many people joined the riot. The Chatham Street Chapel was not just any church, but the home congregation of famous evangelist Charles Grandison Finney funded by the notable abolitionist merchants Arthur and Lewis Tappan. This made it target number one for people angered by the increasing number of freedmen in New York and their abolitionist allies. There were also rumors of black gangs roaming the streets, although this was based on essentially nothing. Eventually, the chaotic nature of New York, plagued by gang violence and lack of law and order, made attacks on abolitionists into a full scale riot. These riots would be calmed down, but they would also make Charles Finney leave New York and harm the reputation of the Tappans. Really, it was a symbol of New York's shocking tendency to violence in the era.