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The White Citizens of Columbia Attempt to Buy Out Columbia's African American Property Holders

The following article was published in Samuel Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania, in September 1834.

Public Meeting At Columbia

At an adjourned meeting of the citizens of Columbia, convened at the Town Hall on Monday evening, Sept. 1st 1834, to receive the report of the committees appointed to inquire into the state of the coloured population and to negotiate with them on the subject of a sale of their property, the officers of the former meeting resumed their seats.

The committee having made report, it was on motion

Resolved, That these reports be remanded to the committees who offered them for the purpose of having resolutions attached to them, and that this meeting do adjourn until Wednesday evening next.

On Wednesday evening, September 3d, the meeting convened pursuant to adjournment.

The committee appointed to inquire into the state of the coloured population of the borough, presented the following report and recommendation which were adopted:

Number of the black population found in Columbia August 28th, 1834:--214 men, 171 women, 264 children--Total 649.

It is supposed that a good number have left the place within a few days, and that a number were scattered through the town that were not seen by the committee. Among the above men, the committee consider the following named persons as vagrants: Wm. Rockoway, Henry Holland, Wash. Butler, Charles Butler, Jacob Courtney, Joe Dellum, James Larrett, Joseph Hughes, Abraham Waters, William Malston, Jr., Lloyd Murray.

A house occupied by John Scott and Wm. Stockes, is considered by the committee as a house of ill fame; it is rented by Joshua P. B. Eddy to them.

James Collins,
Wm. Atkins
John McMullin,
J. F. Markley,
Peter Haldeman, Committee.

The committee respectfully recommended the attention of the proper authorities to the above named vagrants and nuisances as early as practicable.

The committee appointed to negotiate with the blacks on the subject of a sale of their property, reported as follows:

The committee appointed at your first meeting according to the second resolution adopted at that meeting--Beg leave to report.

That they have endeavored to give that attention to the subject which its importance justly demands.

They have in the first place ascertained as nearly as possible the name and number of colored freeholders in this borough, which according to the best information they could obtain they lay before you as follows, viz:--

Henry Burney, Wm. Brown, Aaron Brown, James Burrell, Michael Dellam, Charles Dellam, Joshua Eddy, Walter Green, John Green, George Hayden, Widow Hayden, James Hollingsworth, ___ Henderson, Glascow Mature, Edward Miller, Wm. Pearl, Nicholas Pleasants, Philip Pleasants, Jacob Dickinson, John Johnson, Ephraim Malson, Sawney Alexander, Robert Patterson, Stephen Smith, Peter Swails, John Thomas, James Richards, Betsey Dean (formerly Roatch) George Taylor, Geo. Young, Stephen Wilts, Eliza Park, Thomas Waters, Samuel Wilson, and Patrick , John and Washington Vincent--making in all thirty-seven.

They have called on most of them in person and think the disposition manifested by most of them decidedly favorable to the object of the committee. Some of them are anxious, many willing to sell at once provided a reasonable price were offered--others would dispose of their property as soon as they could find any other eligible situation.

All to whom your committee spoke on the subject of harboring strange persons among them seemed disposed to give the proper attention to the subject. Your committee deem the result of their observations decidedly satisfactory.

In presenting this report your committee would respectfully call your attention to the impropriety of futher urging the colored freeholders to sell until some provisions are made to buy such as may be offered, lest they should be led to consider it all the work of a few excited individuals, and not the deliberate decision of peaceful citizens. They therefore recommend the subject to the attention of capitalists; having no doubt that, independent of every other consideration, the lots in question would be a very profitable investment of their funds, and that if a commencement were once made nearly all of the colored freeholders of the borough would sell as fast as funds could be raised to meet the purchases. Your committee would further remark if every thing was in readiness, considerable time would be required to effect the object, they would therefore recommend caution and deliberation in everything in relation to this important object.

In conclusion your committee offer the following resolution:

Resolved, That an association be formed for the purpose of raising funds for the purchase of the property of the blacks in this borough.

Robert Spear,
H. Brimner,
Jas. H. Mifflin,

On motion, the report was adopted.

On motion, the resolution attached thereto was adopted; and a committee of five gentlemen was appointed to form an association for the purpose of purchasing the property of the blacks in this borough.

The following gentlemen were appointed the committee: Messrs. Joseph Cottrell, Dominick Eagle, John Cooper, Robert Spear and Jacob F. Markley.

On motion, it was Resolved, That these proceedings be published in the Spy, and that the minutes of the meeting be referred to the committee named above.

On motion, the meeting adjourned.

James Given, Chairman.
Thos. E. Cochran, Sec'ry.

Sources and Additional Information

Source: Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania, Vol. XIV, No. 11 (13 September 1834), p 171-172.

See accounts of the white violence against the Black community that initiated this meeting: Columbia Riots


Covering the history of African Americans in central Pennsylvania from the colonial era through the Civil War.

Support the Afrolumens Project. Read the books:

The Year of Jubilee, Volume One: Men of God, Volume Two: Men of Muscle




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