“A mob … broke the shutters and the glass of the windows”

Anna Rawle, the twenty-four-year-old daughter of Quaker Loyalists, recounted in a diary for her mother what happened in Philadelphia when the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown (19 October 1781) became known. She and her sister Margaret were living at the time with their grandmother on Arch Street, between Front and Second Streets.

October 22, 1781.—Second day. The first thing I heard this morning was that Lord Cornwallis had surrendered to the French and Americans— intelligence as surprising as vexatious. …

October 25.—Fifth day. I suppose, dear Mammy, thee would not have imagined this house to be illuminated last night, but it was. A mob surrounded it, broke the shutters and the glass of the windows, and were coming in, none but forlorn women here. We for a time listened for their attacks in fear and trembling till, finding them grow more loud and violent, not knowing what to do, we ran into the yard. … Coburn and Bob Shewell … called to us not to be frightened, and fixed light up at the windows, which pacified the mob, and after three huzzas they moved off. … French and J. B. nailed boards up at the broken pannels, or it would not have been safe to have gone to bed. … For two hours we had the disagreeable noise of stones banging about, glass crashing, and the tumultuous voices of a large body of men, as they were a long time at the different houses in the neighbourhood. At last they were victorious, and it was one general illumination throughout the town. … in short the sufferings of those they pleased to style Tories would fill a volume and shake the credulity of those who were not here on that memorable night

October 26.—Sixth day. It seems universally agreed that Philadelphia will not longer be that happy asylum for the Quakers that it once was. Those joyful days when all was prosperity and peace are gone, never to return. …

The excerpts are from In the Words of Women, page 155, and from The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, published by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Volume 16, 1892, “A Loyalist’s Account of Certain Occurrences in Philadelphia after Cornwallis’s Surrender at Yorktown,” pages 104-107. The image is from The Freeman’s Journal: or The North-American Intelligencer, Philadelphia, 31 October 1781,included in the National Humanities Center Resources Toolbox, Making the Revolution: America, 1763-1791.

posted July 5th, 2012 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Philadelphia, Violence

  1. Whar was the connection between the Cornwallis surrender and the attack of Quakers?

    Comment by Jean Perry — July 9, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  2. The people of Philadelphia (Patriots) placed candles in their windows to celebrate the surrender of Cornwallis. Some Quakers and Loyalists refused to do so and were threatened by mobs who smashed their windows.

    Comment by Janet — July 14, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

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