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An unbreakable game: baseball and its inability to bring about equality during reconstruction.

ON 3 SEPTEMBER 1869, the all-black Pythian Base Ball Club of Philadelphia played the all-white Philadelphia Olympics, marking the first recorded interracial game in organized baseball history. Though the Olympics defeated the Pythian Club by a final score of 44-23, the New York Times reported that "the novelty of the affair drew an immense crowd of people, it being the first game played between a white and colored club." (1) Approximately 4,000 spectators, both black and white, attended the historic event. While fans were typically known to "holler a raucous or profane word" during games, this particular group of fans "minded its manners and showed its emotion with applause and hurrahs." (2) The Wilkes Spirit of the Times, another New York City based newspaper, boldly stated less than a week after the contest that "old-time prejudices are melting away in this country ... now [that] the prejudice has been broken through here, it will be entirely swept away." (3)

Despite their ability to break the color barrier in organized baseball, allowing some black teams in the country to pursue interracial games as well, the Pythians' attempt to fully integrate the game represents an utter failure, as evidenced by their denial for membership in the all-white National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) in 1868. One year later, the Pythians played the Olympics, but not as a participating member of the NABBP (as the Olympics were); rather, they played as outsiders with the ability to draw a crowd of intrigued spectators. Two decades later, the "gentlemen's agreement" of 1887 between white professional baseball teams excluded all black players from participation, leading to the eventual creation of the Negro Leagues. Rather than continuing racial progress after 1869, blacks went backwards in terms of equality in organized baseball.

The story of the Pythian Club exemplifies yet another example of how African-American dreams of equality were shattered and unfulfilled during the period of Reconstruction and afterwards in both the South and North. As Eric Foner notes in Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, reform may have been less successful for Northern blacks than for Southern blacks: "Despite the rapid toppling of traditional racial barriers, the North's racial Reconstruction proved in many respects less far-reaching than the South's." (4) Though typically known to be the pro-black political party, Republicans in the North lost interest in the well-being of the African-American population north of the Mason-Dixon line, choosing to focus instead on the "living issues of the Gilded Age," especially the interests of white laborers. (5) Organized baseball, meanwhile, had virtually no interest at any point during this period in helping blacks achieve integration. This can be more fully understood through the rise and fall of the Pythian Club.

Much of the historiography on this topic ignores or minimizes the larger context of the failures of the Pythian Club, especially with regard to its place during Reconstruction. Part of the reason that baseball historians have disregarded the significance of the team's disappointment in terms of Reconstruction has to do with the fact that baseball historians approach the game in a very narrow frame, and at times, miss the bigger picture. For instance, Michael Lomax studied the rise of black baseball during the mid-to-late ninteenth century through a business and economic history perspective. He argues that the Pythians opened the door to "a symbiotic business relationship between black and white clubs ... by 1871, the Pythians had reached their peak in popularity and success." (6) With regard to their ban by the NABBP, Lomax states that
   the ban was somewhat insignificant, owing to the internal problems
   the NABBP confronted that resulted in the association splitting
   into two factions, amateurs and professionals.... Smart individuals
   seized the opportunity to capitalize on the situation, and
   promoters converted the sport into an amusement business. (7)


Because of Lomax's focus on baseball "business," he ignores the difference between the game as a successful business, and the game as a successful means for civil rights. While the Pythians did financially benefit from the ticket sales generated from interracial games, Lomax's assertion that the NABBP denial "was somewhat insignificant" represents an oversight, neglecting to recognize its impact on the mission of the team's captain, Octavius Catto--to bring about equality through baseball.

John Shiffert focuses on the rise of baseball in Philadelphia during the nineteenth century in the hope of presenting information on the game in a city which has been overlooked during this period, especially in comparison to Boston and New York. (8) Shiffert addresses Lomax's point regarding the economic benefits of playing white teams, but explains that this aspect represents a secondary goal to Catto's pursuit of black equality: "Octavius Catto himself was trying to get Pythian into the NABBP, partly for economic reasons so they could play white teams for bigger gates, though financial concerns were hardly Catto's main reason for starting a baseball team--he was out to end Jim Crow." (9) Furthermore, he notes that, despite the interracial games which both the Pythians and other black clubs participated in during the 1870s, "African-American clubs were never allowed to join the NABBP, being treated more as curiosities than anything else ... a loss to society, in both Philadelphia and ultimately the nation." (10) Unlike Lomax, Shiffert recognizes the significance of the NABBP ban as having a lasting impact not just on baseball, but on black society throughout the country.

It is more difficult to trace sports' historiographical evolution than that of other historical topics. This seems linked to the ability of sports history to attract a wide range of scholars using a great variety of approaches. For instance, J. Thomas Jable examines African-American baseball in Philadelphia in a more profound analysis of the consequences of the NABBP ban than Shiffert's work, even though Jable wrote eleven years earlier. (11) While Shiffert's work covers a broad spectrum of baseball in Philadelphia during the nineteenth century, Jable hones in on the black community. He argues that sports "worked against them, serving as a conduit for separating the races and reinforcing segregation." (12) Jable, unlike Shiffert, advances the argument one step further regarding the significance of the NABBP denial by recognizing the impact it had on baseball for future black generations.

Daniel R. Biddle and Murray Dubin's Tasting Freedom relays a detailed account of Catto's life, and seems to dive deeper into the Pythians' place in Reconstruction history than other works. This can be attributed to the work not focusing exclusively on baseball history. Recognizing the growth of his popularity as a black activist and the potential for an increase in black equality throughout the country, Biddle and Dubin suggest that Catto believed that
   the club had to do something no colored club had ever done ... now
   was the time to seek a change. It was October 1867. Negroes were
   being elected to office in the South. The Pythians had played on
   the field of the Athletics, an association member and the top team
   in the state. (13)


Despite Catto's reasonable prediction, blacks' entrance into government positions in both regions did not trigger their acceptance as regular teammates or adversaries on the baseball diamond.

This essay will begin by briefly examining Catto's upbringing. In order to understand his political philosophy, this is followed by an exploration of his work as an activist on behalf of blacks in the army and the streetcars of Philadelphia. Subsequently, I will look at the rise of baseball to become the proverbial "national pastime" following the Civil War. Finally, an examination of the rise and fall of the Pythian Base Ball Club and its inability to accomplish Catto's aspirations will suggest that baseball actually set African Americans even further back in their pursuit for equality during Reconstruction, since it served as a constant reminder of the barriers towards full equality. Catto attempted to defeat segregation in baseball with the same strategy with which he overcame segregation in the army ranks during the Civil War or on the streetcars in Philadelphia: through persistence and an unwillingness to accept defeat. Unfortunately, his efforts failed in this instance. The NABBP denial crushed the Pythians' attempt to create civil rights in organized baseball, and unfortunately, set a precedent for the growth of segregation in the game over the next eighty years. Though the importance of the Pythians' ability to break the color barrier remains historic and triumphant to an extent, it did not end baseball's racism, as the Wilkes Spirit of the Times had predicted it would in 1869.

Besides being a star infielder for the Pythians during the late 1860s, Catto was an educator, politician, and staunch civil rights activist. As Roger Lane explains: "Catto's politics was the politics of race, or the organized pursuit of greater equality, opportunity, and recognition for the race as a whole." (14) Catto saw baseball as another avenue for civil-rights advocacy, a chance to provide proof that black players belonged on the same playing field as their white counterparts, just as they did in society at large. Following his tragic death in 1871, the Pythians abandoned his mission in the absence of anyone who could replace him, as Harry C. Silcox notes: "Catto's death brought to an end black militant behavior in nineteenth-century Philadelphia." (15)

Born on 22 February 1839 in Charleston, South Carolina, Octavius Catto appears to have been born free. At the age of five, he and his family moved to Philadelphia after his father, William, was called upon by the Presbyterian Church to lead their congregation. Silcox suggests that Catto was heavily influenced by his father, who instilled a discipline and work ethic into young Octavius based upon "intellectual curiosity and emphasis on scholarly pursuits." (16) William T. Catto firmly believed that higher education represented an attainable goal for all black Philadelphians, and noted that "the church has its aim and its end, it is an intelligent intellectual body ... ever growing, enlightening, civilizing and Christianizing." (17) One adage that William repeated to his audiences on numerous occasions seems to have spoken especially to Octavius in light of his civil-rights advocacy later on: "Every man, more or less, has some part to perform in the drama of life ... as individuals we must go forward and contribute our something toward the press of interest that impels forward; who moves not will be pushed aside; or irresistibly borne forward, uncared for and unhonored." (18)

Catto graduated at the top of his high-school class from the Institute of Colored Youth (I.C.Y.) in 1858. The school was modeled after the local Central High School, attended by whites only. Widely considered to be the hub of intellectual advancement for black youths in the city, the I.C.Y. offered a rigorous academic course load which allowed Catto to become far better schooled than black students in other parts of the country. As a member of the Banneker Debating Society, Catto often presented papers to the group for discussion, which Silcox points to as the "oratorical training ground" for the young man. (19) Principal Bassett applauded Catto's achievements at commencement, especially because of his "outstanding scholarly work, great energy, and perseverance in school matters." (20)

Only one year after graduation, Catto, at the age of twenty, was hired by the I.C.Y. as an English and mathematics teacher. The Weekly Anglo-African, located in New York, noted after Catto's hire "that the teachers of the Institute are all colored: that is, we have black men teaching black boys spherical trigonometry." (21) During his time as a teacher and lecturer, Catto gained notoriety for his temper. For instance, he canceled his lectures at Banneker on two occasions: once for not having adequate time to prepare a suitable speech (in his view), and the other because he felt the crowd size was too small. (22) In the classroom, Catto applied physical discipline, often striking his students for disobedience. One student noted in his diary: "Mr. Catto gives me a slap on my face with a book for giving impudence as he calls it." (23)

Catto's impatience reflected a desire for blacks to take themselves seriously in all pursuits for bettering their lives. It was not enough to simply go through the motions; they had to heighten the race now rather than later. Prior to the 1850s, Philadelphia had been primarily exposed to anti-slavery activism and anti-abolitionist riots. The local black population had risen drastically by 1830, increasing to a total of 15,624 between the city and local districts, which translated into a forty-eight percent increase since 1810. Nevertheless, the growth of white immigration in Philadelphia was no match for blacks. Numerous riots took place between 1829 and 1840, which W.E.B. DuBois explained was fueled by "the simultaneous influx of freedmen, fugitives and foreigners into a large city, and the resulting prejudice, lawlessness, crime and poverty." (24)

Understanding the history of black Philadelphia, Catto learned very quickly during his time as a teacher that education was but one mode for implementing change and that far more needed to be done. Black education could continue to strengthen only if African Americans could counter the restrictive laws that were placed on them. Even so, Catto's emergence as a leader was gradual; his caution may have been caused by a remembrance of the anti-abolitionist riots which took place in the city in 1833 and 1834. Following one episode of mob violence that spanned a three-day period, "thirty-one houses and two churches were destroyed and Stephen James, 'an honest, industrious colored man,' killed." (25)

Catto began his political career by joining a number of advocacy groups and organizations throughout the city in the hopes of accomplishing his goals. Silcox remarks that "these activities outside the classroom shaped his destiny." (26) In response to feelings of oppression by those within the black Philadelphia community, Catto co-led a rally consisting of Banneker Literary Institute constituents on 4 July 1859 at Independence Square. One literary member and future Pythian teammate, Jacob C. White, argued that the 4 July holiday had come to represent nothing but empty promises for black Americans, a life which could never ignore the hardships and alienation: "If we sit at home, we feel it--if we walk the streets, the influence of prejudice surrounds us at every step--if we sleep, our dreams are of the weight of oppression we are obliged to sustain." (27) The significance of the rally held on 4 July 1859 in the city of the country's founding was not the only highlight--whites had not attempted to break up the gathering in any way, to which the Weekly-Anglo African declared that "precedent was broken." (28) Interestingly enough, the Weekly-Anglo African also reported a story regarding the first baseball game played "between players of African descent." (29) At this point in Catto's life, however, baseball does not appear to have crossed his mind (just yet) as a means to fight for black equality.

Part of the reason why whites may not have broken up the 4 July rally may have been Catto's success at gaining support not just from the local black community, but also from the local white community: "His rapport with white leaders, especially politicians, made him one of the most renowned local blacks of his day." (30) Catto had not raised much controversy at this point in his life, unlike someone like Frederick Douglass, who was a nationally known abolitionist. As the Civil War quickly approached, however, Catto soon annoyed whites in both Philadelphia and other parts of the country.

Following the Emancipation Proclamation, new feelings of American black pride emerged, not in the least among black Philadelphians. During the summer of 1863, just as Confederate General Robert E. Lee was leading his army north towards Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Governor Andrew Curtin and Philadelphia Mayor Alexander Henry called for recruits to increase the ranks of the state militia. While many white Philadelphians ignored their requests, African Americans were keen to join and fight for their brethren who remained enslaved in the South. (31) Black churches held recruitment meetings, parades took place in the streets, and general feelings of patriotism were expressed openly. (32) The Weekly Anglo-African encouraged its black readers to join the war effort by posing the question: "Will you vindicate your manhood?" (33) Posters were hung throughout Philadelphia. (34)

Fifty-four black Philadelphians signed these broadsides, including Catto as well as Frederick Douglass, indicating their endorsement of the call for blacks to take up arms. (35) Those who signed the broadsides were viewed as "gentlemen of color" in the black community. (36) Emma Lapsansky-Werner also argues that these men were "race conscious," in that "they believed their own successes or failures influenced opportunities for others." (37) At the age of twenty-four, Catto understood his role in the black community to mean that if he could prove his own manhood, he could prove the manhood of all black Philadelphians. After Catto took the first step by volunteering and becoming the leader of a newly formed black militia, many of the students at the I.C.Y. joined the recruitment effort in full force, and left school to fight in the war under Catto's supervision. (38)

On 17 June 1863, 90 black teenagers and men boarded a train for Harrisburg to receive their orders. A large crowd surrounded the train in support of Catto's men. Emilie Davis, a student at the I.C.Y., wrote in her diary that the occasion was "the most exciting I ever witness ... [and we] went to see the boyes start for Harrisburg." (39) Upon arrival in Harrisburg, however, the regiment was not welcomed with such open arms. After being issued equipment, General Darius N. Couch rejected Catto's men from joining the state militia. Couch explained that he could not admit these black soldiers because Congress had decreed that the enlistment of black soldiers had to be for no less than three years. Since Catto's group from Philadelphia was technically an emergency militia, and would only serve for about three months, Couch concluded that they were not abiding by federal government policy. As a result, Catto and his men had no other option but to return to Philadelphia. (40)

After reading Couch's decision in the 18 June 1863 edition of the U.S. Gazette, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton sent a telegram to Couch indicating his displeasure: "You are authorized to receive into the service any volunteer troops that may be offered, without regard to color." (41) Approximately one week after his rejection at Harrisburg, Catto attended a meeting at Franklin Hall in Philadelphia to protest Couch's decision. Rather than denounce the country as a whole because of the Harrisburg incident, blacks led by Catto and others maintained their loyalty towards the United States. The general consensus demonstrated an offer to ignore "unpleasant memories of the past," and only asked that they be treated with the same fairness that whites received, especially because they too showed a "willingness and readiness to defend the union." (42)

Not long after this June meeting, a newly formed committee known as the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments helped create eleven regiments on behalf of Pennsylvania. By the end of 1863, all willing black Philadelphians were admitted into the Union Army. (43) Catto joined the first division of the Pennsylvania National Guard as a major and inspector for the fifth brigade. His commander, General Louis Wagner, applauded Catto's military ability, noting that he found him to be a "conscientious and faithful officer ... [who] labored effectively in the organization of the command ... [an] honored and respected soldier of the Commonwealth." (44) Catto had truly "proven his manhood" by refusing to give in to the rejection he and his black students encountered at Harrisburg, and continued to advocate for the raising of black troops. Thanks to Catto's persistence, perhaps the most central feature of his political philosophy, black Philadelphians played a part in the Union Army defeating the Confederacy.

As the conclusion to the Civil War approached, Catto's political involvement increased. After helping to obtain the right for blacks to fight in the Union Army, Catto showed his unwavering persistence. In November 1864, he helped found the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League, serving as the corresponding secretary. The League focused on "morality, education, temperance, frugality, industry, and prompt[ing] everything that pertains to a well ordered and dignified life and to obtain by appeals to the mind and conscience of the American people or by legal process a recognition of the rights of the colored people...." (45)

Supporting the League's adopted principle, Catto advocated fiercely for the right of black teachers to teach black students following protests by whites that black children should only be taught by white schoolteachers:
   Now, if white people of this country are so bitterly opposed to
   sending their children to school with the colored, why is it that
   they are so anxious to teach us? ... It must be the dollars and
   cents they are after and not the moral interest of our children....
   We are tired of white overseers, we got enough of them during the
   days of slavery. (46)


While Catto received overwhelming support from the black community, whites began to fear his political agenda after the Civil War. They had not seen Catto as a threat earlier in his career; however, his advocacy for black teachers to teach black students interfered with whites' desire to continue controlling blacks. (47)

Over the next several years, Catto continued to interfere with the white agenda of Philadelphia. Towards the end of 1865, just as Reconstruction was beginning to take form in the South, black Philadelphians expressed the desire to desegregate local streetcars. For years, Philadelphia streetcar companies refused to allow blacks to sit with whites, but claimed that their refusal did not represent discriminatory practices: "The owners said they were not prejudiced; they were merely sparing the feelings of white passengers." (48) Clearly, these companies were prejudiced against blacks. They were further influenced by racist periodicals such as The Age, which argued that "scientific" studies demonstrated "that if colored men sat beside white ladies in the cars, the inevitable result would be rape." (49)

After much debate within the black community regarding the proper course in defeating this outward discriminatory practice, Catto and his fellow black leaders chose not to attempt to convince the streetcar company owners to change their policies. (50) Instead, black leaders agreed that the best way to achieve their goals would be by convincing the state legislature to adopt a desegregation policy. This decision was heavily influenced by Senator Charles Sumner's call for Congress to end the Washington, DC, streetcar ban. Catto argued that undeniable evidence existed of the importance of black enlistment in helping to secure victory. As a result, the question for Catto was simple: "Men deemed citizen enough to fight for the nation but not to sit inside its streetcars?" (51)

Catto's political militancy, especially in the years following the Civil War, typifies the shift in politics in the North during Reconstruction. Foner explains that Republican political machines dominated cities like Philadelphia and Boston, whereby radical Republican politicians conceded to some black aspirations in an attempt to punish and weaken Democrats in the South. In addition, "the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and postwar amendments voided laws barring blacks from entering Northern states, testifying in court, and voting, and were successfully employed by individuals pressing damage claims against railroads and streetcars that excluded them altogether or barred them from first-class compartments." (52) In Catto's view, as well as those he was leading, politics was the best course for defeating leftover remnants of black slavery.

Appointed to direct a three-person committee by the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League, Catto traveled to Harrisburg (in a segregated car no less), the same city in which he had been initially rejected by the Union Army several years before, and advocated for the support of desegregation among state legislators. The task before Catto was not going to be easy; in fact, as Biddle and Dubin note, it seemed quite unlikely that the committee would be successful: "They needed to persuade the legislature to pass a law for constituents who could not vote--a legislature that had recently considered creating a registry to track the state's Negroes and had allotted monies for shipping them to Liberia." (53) Nevertheless, Catto spoke to rural audiences which included Congressmen Thaddeus Stevens and William Kelley to discuss the League's objectives in desegregating the streetcars for the state's blacks, as well as the accomplishments that they had already obtained. Catto's ability to speak intelligently and passionately about their cause drew significant attention and sympathy. One listener wrote that the audiences "were so roused and inspired by the practical advice, and eloquent arguments of the gentlemen from Philadelphia, whose province it is to inaugurate these auxiliary Leagues." (54)

Catto's committee proceeded to revise an older bill which State Senator Morrow Lowry of Erie had introduced to the state legislature. Lowry's desegregation bill had passed the state Senate in 1865, but had been rejected by the House. The revised bill asked for more punitive damages than Lowry's earlier version: It mandated that each black passenger be awarded five hundred dollars by the streetcar company or worker who banned passengers from riding "on account of color, or race, or who shall refuse to carry such person ... or who shall throw any car, or cars, from the track, thereby preventing persons from riding." (55) Lowry seemed confident that this bill would be accepted this time around, especially because Radical Republicans in Congress were on the verge of getting the Fourteenth Amendment passed, granting blacks full citizenship throughout the country. (56)

Despite Lowry's optimism, much doubt still loomed. (57) During the preliminary (and later) stages of Reconstruction, local and federal governments sided with railroad companies in virtually all matters, adhering to what had become a very "business-minded" nation. Foner notes that "the government awarded over 100 million acres of land and millions of dollars in direct aid to support railroad construction, mostly to help finance the transcontinental lines chartered during and after the Civil War" between 1862 and 1872. (58) Immense support for railroad and corporate business reflected the corruption that existed within the Republican Party. Taking advantage of their role in business operations throughout the country, Foner suggests, the federal government under President Ulysses S. Grant "preyed upon it, and many entrepreneurs resented a system that regularly required them to pay bribes to individuals and tribute to the party ... [n]obody 'owned' the Republican party, or, to put it another way, its first loyalty was always to itself." (59) In 1872, one freedman from Texas asked Charles Sumner in a letter why Congress poured oodles of money into land acquisitions for railroad construction while ignoring the plight of the manumitted slaves. (60)

Nevertheless, blacks began to protest while waiting to hear what the decision would be from Harrisburg. Black men and women regularly sneaked into white carriages. One white eyewitness wrote that "they (blacks) made organized effort to appear on every car that was on the street. They could not be excluded, as the cars were compelled to stop because white passengers were waiting." (61) Catto approved of such defiance, depicting the streetcar segregation as uncivilized. (62) Blacks placed their trust in Catto's guidance and advice, and truly believed that his militancy would lead to success.

On 5 February 1867, Lowry formally brought his new bill before the legislature. Under pressure from Radical Republicans to pass it, the legislature approved the bill by a vote of 50 to 27. On 22 March 1867, Governor John W. Geary signed the bill that officially desegregated the streetcars of Pennsylvania. The Christian Recorder proudly hypothesized that Democrats must be beside themselves at the thought "that a bill drafted by colored men passed the Legislature of the Keystone State." (63) Though some local observers believed that the bill had only passed in order to win over future black voters, Catto and his followers received praise throughout the city. (64)

The victory signified the Republican inclination to attempt to better the lives of Northern blacks. Republicans were heavily influenced by the pressure of black leaders such as Catto, "whose churches, newspapers, and state conventions pressed for the repeal of discriminatory laws, access to public facilities like schools and streetcars." (65) Even if eventually Republican leaders refused to cater to black organizations for their causes, this current gain was enormous for black Philadelphia. As he had successfully done in his fight for equality in the Union Army, his determination and an unwillingness to accept anything but victory caused Catto to win his case for desegregation on the streetcars.

In the background of Catto's political achievements and growing popularity, the game of baseball had gained acclaim as the country's proverbial "national pastime." Prior to the Civil War, baseball had already been integrated into American society during the 1840s and 1850s. Shiffert explains that the game as a pastime originated in the belief that it could be used as a means to literally pass the time. (66) As a result, typically the upper and middle classes were the only ones who had the time to play baseball because they were financially stable, and did not have to work nearly as much as the lower classes.

The game was most popular in New York, where white "professionals, primarily physicians and merchants, were gathering on a regular basis to play the new game" beginning in 1842. (67) These young professionals eventually formed the first known baseball team in 1845, known as the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. The club understood the game to be one that should be played for leisure and entertainment purposes as opposed to competitiveness. Within this "leisure" time, sports historian William J. Baker notes the selectivity of those who could participate within the club: "Common laborers, poor immigrants, or black Americans need not have applied for membership." (68) As "urban ethnics" such as the Irish and Germans began to participate and establish their own informal teams during the 1850s, however, so too did free blacks. Even so, black teams only played against other black teams. (69)

Baseball expanded towards the end of the 1850s to include cities such as Boston and Philadelphia. Its prominence continued to grow in conjunction with the press that it received, as well as the creation of the NABBP in 1857--a key organization in the eventual downfall of Catto's Pythians. Responsibilities of the NABBP "[were] crucial in baseball's history, launching an era in which players met annually to refine the rules, resolve disputes, and control the sport's development." (70) opment." (70) In 1859, the NABBP banned players who received compensation for their play, which the New York based Clipper newspaper believed represented "something of an aristocratic odor" within the Association, and displayed "a rather uncharitable disposition toward poor players." (71) Historian George B. Kirsch argues, however, that this ban demonstrates a desire to maintain the game as one of recreation as opposed to business and outright competition. (72) In the Civil War, soldiers played the game during their spare time, especially due to the long periods of dullness in their lives in between battles. (73) For once, lower-class citizens had the time and ability to be included in America's game. Kirsch explains that the meaning of the game changed dramatically in the war: "The game became a feature of military life, and it took on new meanings in the context of war[, with o]bservers of American sporting life stress[ing] the analogy between team sports and battle, urging the former as training for the latter." (74) Proving superiority, manhood, and belonging, the game far transcended mere recreation.

By the end of the Civil War, soldiers integrated this new competitive dimension of baseball back at home. Historian Peter Morris notes that post-Civil War baseball went through a difficult transition in which "competitiveness came out in the open to such an extent as to doom the gentlemanly way of playing." (75) Much of this stemmed from the increased tensions between the North and the South, which were especially heightened by the South's bitterness in losing the war. Though there were many Southern teams which joined the NABBP following the Civil War, many refused to play members in the North. In September 1866, the Union Club of Washington challenged several clubs from Virginia, but all refused. (76)

Despite such fierce words from some sectional clubs, baseball also united the country. As the popularity of the game continued to rise directly after the conclusion of the Civil War, nationally known politicians embraced baseball, recognizing its "major role in fostering nationalism in general and sectional reconciliation between North and South in particular during the years of Reconstruction." (77) While the defeated South attempted to reshape its society during Reconstruction with regard to social status of its citizens, so too did the triumphant North. (78) President Andrew Johnson "gave official presidential recognition to baseball in August 1865" when he welcomed a number of men who played for the Brooklyn Atlantics to the White House. (79) When the Atlantics returned to Washington the following summer, Johnson attended their match against the Washington Mutuals. Kirsch believes that the relationship between the Mutuals and Johnson may have been furthered by the team's support of Johnson's Reconstruction policies. (80) Kirsch's assumption reflects a broader issue of the white baseball brotherhood throughout the nation wishing to maintain black exclusion during Reconstruction.

Back in Philadelphia, blacks' interest in baseball soon boomed. Northern cities with the biggest concentration of African-American elites (such as Baltimore, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia) were home to all-black teams. Similar to their white counterparts, black elites controlled baseball because of the leisure time that they possessed. Lomax argues that black leaders believed that "the entire race must make itself respectable ... [and that] the sport was targeted as a vehicle to promote and instill values championed by the white middle class ... [, that] baseball would be a catalyst to elevate the race." (81) As the story of the Pythian Club demonstrates, they sought not only to elevate the race in the eyes of white America, but also to equalize the race.

Baseball's transformation from a game of recreation to one of competition and quest for victory following the Civil War gave Catto another opportunity to incorporate his political philosophy of persistence into an institution which had potential to further the cause of racial equality on a large scale. Unfortunately for Catto, however, this fight would prove unsuccessful. Rather than underline that blacks were equal to whites on the ball fields, the failures to achieve equality through baseball reflected the unfulfilled hopes of Reconstruction more generally.

Catto had played cricket during his years at the I.C.Y. Following the Civil War, like so many other Americans, Catto took up baseball. By 1866, Catto and members of the Banneker Institute and I.C.Y. formed the Pythian Club. (82) Lane observes that the Pythian lineups "amount to a kind of roll call of the leading black politicians, educators, and lawyers of the next thirty years." (83) With four different lineup rosters to choose from, Catto could have club members both play ball and deliver public speeches. (84)

The elite status of the Pythian Club reflects the make-up of Philadelphia during this time. As the foremost industrial hub of the country between 1850 and 1870, Philadelphia, like other major cities in the North, shifted its attention to big business and "the number of professional and white-collar workers grew dramatically." (85) Such growth of "professional and white-collar workers" affected black Philadelphians as well. The 22,000 Philadelphian blacks of 1860 formed the second largest African-American population among the Northern cities. Of them, only approximately 200 might be called upper class, but, as Lane explains, "[a]lthough their absolute numbers were tiny, never accounting for as much as one percent of the adult population, they were rising fast enough either to provide better service for their mostly all-black clientele or to make some inroads among their white competitors." (86) Despite their small number, as Lane points out, the black elite in Philadelphia was large in comparison to the rest of the North. Much of this can be attributed to the opportunities which were presented to them, especially with regard to professional training. African-American professionals were extremely isolated from the white population, who knew very little about their activities or intentions. (87)

Like any other social organization of the time, the Pythians held regular meetings to discuss upcoming challenges against other local and Northern black teams. In order to promote their team as one of gentlemen, a code of conduct was established which included a number of rules: "All spirituous liquors are positively excluded from this [meeting] room ... [while, for] unbecoming language or conduct ... bringing this association into disrepute, a member may be fined, suspended or expelled." (88) Even while establishing these guidelines, some members felt that baseball as a means to uplift the race seemed trivial. William Still, a well-known businessman who also participated in civil-rights advocacy, wrote a letter of resignation to the Pythian Club on the grounds that "our kin in the south famishing for knowledge have claims so great and pressing that I feel bound to give my means in this direction to the extent of my abilities [i]n preference to giving for frivolous amusements." (89) Though Still must have understood Catto's purpose of captaining the Pythian team, baseball still seemed like "an amusement" in comparison to the fight that was taking place in the South in the midst of Reconstruction.

In the meantime, Catto's team began to gain prominence throughout Philadelphia thanks to its excellent play. Eventually, they gained acclaim throughout the North as they played teams in major urban areas such as Washington, DC, and New York. Many of these matches were organized in response to formal challenges. In one letter, team secretary J.C. White wrote to a club requesting their attendance in Philadelphia:
   To the Offices and Members of the L'Ouverture Base Ball Club

   Gentlemen,

   The Pythian B.B.C. respectfully invite you to play a match game of
   base ball, and if convenient to yourselves we would suggest
   Wednesday the nineteenth or Friday the 21st of this month. An early
   answer is requested.

   Respectfully, J.C. White 713 Lombard Street (90)


Many of these engagements went well beyond game playing. Matches involved events within the community which lasted all day in some instances. For example, in one letter White wrote to the secretary of an unknown team, he explained that the Pythians would be late in arriving to their host team's city, because they wished to please the visiting team that they had recently played in Philadelphia:
   We have arranged to play the Alerts on the 29th and desire to be at
   their disposal during the entire day and evening. The ladies have
   made arrangements for a picnic on the 30th for which we have
   received and accepted an invitation. (91)


Games between Philadelphia and Washington drew the biggest crowds, particularly because they were considered to have the best African-American teams in the region. White baseball players stood in the stands, as well as black leaders from both cities, including Frederick Douglass, whose son Charles played for the Alerts. (92)

By the end of the 1867 season, the Pythians finished with a 9-1 record, "and the acclaim as the best colored team in the city and perhaps the nation." (93) Having proven their superiority amongst blacks, the Pythians, under Catto's leadership and political influence, believed that they deserved to be recognized just as any other white team would be by being admitted into the NABBP. In Catto's view, the time was now to make such a stride. His team shared the playing field of the white Philadelphia Athletics; perhaps the nicest field in the city, as he observed in a letter to one black team's captain. (94) Combined with his strong relationship with Athletics Vice-President E. Hicks Hayhurst, and the popularity the Pythians had drawn from the white community, Catto concluded that "there is considerable interest and no little anxiety among the White Fraternity concerning the game." (95) For Catto, the process by which he had won over white leaders during the Civil War and the streetcar controversy would translate into success for his new mission in integrating baseball.

Prior to the 1867 season, the NABBP had adopted the following principle to their newest constitution and bylaws: "The Objects of this Association shall be to improve, foster, and perpetuate the American Game of Base Ball, and to promote the cultivation of kindly feelings among the different members of Base Ball Clubs and State Base Ball Associations." (96) Though "kindly feelings" were clearly meant to be associated strictly with regard to white baseball teams, Catto interpreted this ambiguous phrase to mean one that supported his goals of integration. (97)

Rather than campaign or hold rallies as a way of gaining momentum for his cause, Catto chose to take the fight directly to those who had the power to make integration possible. In October 1867, approximately ten months after the adoption of the newest NABBP Constitution and by-laws, the Pennsylvania State Convention of Base Ball Players, a subsidiary of the NABBP, met in Harrisburg for its annual meeting. (98) Once again, Catto's pursuit of equality would be fought in Harrisburg. This time, however, he elected not to attend the meeting, and chose to send Pythian member Raymond Burr to Harrisburg to apply for membership to the Convention instead. Burr's presence made sense, for he was familiar with civil-rights advocacy and politics. Burr was the son of John P. Burr, supposedly himself the son of former Vice-President of the United States Aaron Burr. Burr also knew exactly what Catto expected of him, having been one of the ninety troops that had gone to Harrisburg several years earlier attempting to enlist in the Union Army.

Prior to Burr's arrival in Harrisburg, the Pythians knew that they had the support of Hayhurst and Representative Ellis of the Athletics, which they believed would serve them well in their plight to convince white committee members that the Pythians' admittance made sense for both races. (99) When Burr arrived in Harrisburg, however, before he even had the opportunity to make an argument, Hayhurst and Convention Secretary D.D. Domer informed him that an informal poll of committee members had revealed that white teams were almost unanimously opposed to the Pythians' admittance. In a letter to the Pythian Club, Burr describes this very interaction:
   [D]elegates clustered together in small groups to discuss what
   action might be taken on the admittance of the Pythians' delegate,
   and your delegate himself was waited on by Sec. Domer who stated
   that he and Mr. Hayhurst had been discussing the matter of our
   admittance, and canvassing the other delegates, and though they and
   the President were in favor of our acceptance, still the majority
   of the delegates were opposed to it and they would advise me to
   withdraw my application, as they thought it were better for us to
   withdraw than to have it on record that we were black balled. (100)


Burr explains that he rejected the committee's call for the Pythians to withdraw their application at first. (101) Nevertheless, the committee voted in favor of admitting 265 of the 266 applications which had come before them; the lone application which they refused to rule on remained the Pythians'. Hayhurst and several others convinced the committee to rule on the application the following morning. That morning, however, Burr was once again asked to withdraw the application; otherwise, they would have no choice but to rule against them. Burr proceeded to telegraph Catto for instructions, who asked him to persist. Ultimately, Burr concluded that there was no chance for success and departed. (102)

Biddle and Dubin correctly argue that the Pennsylvania Convention's refusal to rule on the Pythians may have been just as bad as rejecting them directly. (103) Though white society had reluctantly agreed to make concessions in the case of Catto's two previous victories, baseball represented something much bigger, and was unmoved by Catto's persistence. President Johnson's endorsement of baseball as the national pastime reflected indirect support of continued white supremacy, a microcosm of the belief during Reconstruction that whites still dominated America. Though African Americans made a few small gains, whites were not about to allow a major victory to take place in an area as dearly cherished as baseball already was. Silcox explains quite succinctly how Catto pushed for too much by asking for integration in the newly adopted national pastime:
   His aggressive nature and strivings for equality had again exceeded
   the role that whites expected of blacks. In this case he offended
   the lower classes of white society that enjoyed baseball. They
   intended to keep their teams and league white and they did. (104)


Catto had defeated heavy odds previously when it seemed as though there was no hope for progress, and baseball did not seem much different in that regard. Following the unofficial rejection in Harrisburg, Catto elected to apply for membership to the NABBP directly when they held their national meeting in Philadelphia in December 1867. Unlike the delegates in Harrisburg, the NABBP members had no problem with officially rejecting the Pythians. In a formal written explanation of the decision rendered by the NABBP, James Whyte Davis of the New York Knickerbockers argued that his organization wanted to stay out of politics and was worried that the admittance of black teams might cause harm. (105) Just in case anyone chose to argue that the ruling had been a bit ambiguous (i.e. Catto), the NABBP banned any "colored" player. (106) It was the first-ever official ban on blacks in baseball.

The NABBP ban demonstrates the exclusion of blacks from sects of society during Reconstruction. As the working class continued to grow throughout the country, labor unions similarly barred black membership. The National Labor Congresses took two stances on the issue: One view supported the creation of local segregated black unions, while the other dismissed blacks from the labor movement altogether, because it included "so much mystery, and upon it so wide diversity of opinion among our members" for there to be any real resolution. (107) Foner notes that while whites refused to work with blacks, whites ignored (or chose to ignore) that both races shared a similar struggle: "Thus, despite the parallels between blacks' quest for economic autonomy and its own hostility to 'wage slavery,' the Northern labor movement failed to identify its aspirations and interests with those of the former slaves." (108)

Symptomatic of the setbacks faced by African Americans during Reconstruction, Catto's streak of success thus ended. While the Pennsylvania Convention adopted an unwritten and unofficial ban on blacks in baseball, Catto's persistence inadvertently drove the NABBP to create an official written document outlining such a ban. Nevertheless, Catto's defeat received sympathy from several Northern newspapers. The New York Times declared that the ban was "inconsistent with the events of the past decade," while the New York Daily Tribune bluntly remarked that the decision was "cowardly." (109) Despite the support from some newspapers, the color line dashed Catto's hopes of moving toward greater equality through baseball.

Over the next three years, the Pythians continued to operate as a talented baseball team, but without the political agenda that it once had had. In 1868, the Pythians finished the season with only one loss, winning the "World's Colored Championship" against a team from Chicago. (110) Continuing to gain ground as a competitive team, the Pythians challenged the Athletics to an interracial "world's championship" on numerous occasions as more of a competition than an attempt to integrate. Even so, they were constantly rejected by NABBP affiliated teams because of the color barrier. An unknown writer who identified himself as "A Lover of the Game" sent a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia City Item, suggesting that an interracial game was a reasonable request for the Pythians to make:
   According to the laws of our last Convention, no association game
   could be played between such clubs; but, in view of the fact that
   our most prominent clubs are now frequently playing sociable and
   friendly games, and in view also of the serviceable practice the
   Pythians may afford, I have no doubt that such a game would be
   interesting and well patronized. I learn that the Pythians are
   composed of the most worthy young men among our colored population.
   Who will put the ball in motion? (111)


Over a month later, another published letter argued that the Athletics were scared by the prospect of losing to the Pythians:
   Why is it that the Athletics will not play the colored baseball
   club called the Pythians? Are they afraid of them? As I hear the
   Pythians are very strong. I think it is quite possible that the
   apprehension of being beaten by them is the real cause. Fie fie! I
   call on the Athletics Club to play the Pythians forthwith! (112)


Some debate arose as to whether these two letters were written by Catto, but this remains a mystery to date. (113)

The Athletics may not have felt the desire to live up to the challenge brought about in the City Item, but several other white teams did. The Masonic Club issued a statement announcing that they would play the Pythians as soon as they were challenged by Catto" "There is a desire on the part of a great majority of the admirers of the game of base ball to have some club, composed of players of the Caucasian race, play a game with the famous Pythian club, composed of colored gentlemen." (114) Biddle and Dubin explain, however, that these teams may have been talking about an interracial game, "but it was just talk[, since t]he momentum was there, but a colored-white game was a giant step for baseball ... no white club wanted to take the chance of being the first to lose to a colored team." (115)

Ultimately, the Olympics agreed to play the Pythians on 3 September 1869. (116) Though the Pythians lost, interracial games began to take place in several Northern locations thereafter. The Pythians participated in other interracial contests following their landmark game with the Olympics as well, including a 27-17 victory over the City Item Ball Club (owned by the newspaper) on 16 September 1869. A small number of interracial games emerged outside of Philadelphia as well, including a game in Boston in 1870 that resolved a dispute between an all-white team and an all-black team regarding the use of the same team name, "Resolutes." Ultimately, the "black Resolutes" won the game and kept their name.

These interracial exhibition games meant little to the cause of equality that Catto had sought. In his examination of the history of the NABBP, the historian Marshall D. Wright notes that while black teams such as the Pythians played NABBP teams, they would never be allowed admittance because "they were unfortunately looked at as curiosities rather than equals." (117) In spite of baseball's inability to bring about equality, Catto remained optimistic following the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in April 1870, which gave black men the right to vote

throughout the country. Determined to organize his fellow blacks to vote, Catto launched campaigns to make sure that African Americans voted Republican. Catto received a number of threatening letters, but was urged by his friend John Thomas Johnson to ignore "their authors or contents" and continue to organize, and Catto did as Johnson suggested. (118) By 1871, Catto traveled to Washington regularly in order to gain Republican support regarding a variety of issues, as well as to help push along the establishment of freedman schools. White Republicans noted that Catto "was prominent in politics, being looked up to and confided in by his people as a man of earnest convictions and judgments beyond his years." (119)

Catto's rising prominence throughout the country came to a tragic end on 10 October 1871. Despite being warned of the violent riots that were occurring throughout the city due to white agitation over blacks going to the election polls, Catto proceeded to go to the polls to exercise his right to vote as an American citizen. (120) On his way to vote, Catto was shot and killed by the vigilante Frank Kelly. Catto's murder must have reminded black Philadelphians of the violence that had ensued during the 1830s and 1840s, demonstrating that racial prejudice in the city remained deep even after the Civil War. Mourning among the nation's blacks was extensive, and thousands of white and black Philadelphians and people from outside the city attended Catto's funeral on 16 October 1871. (121)

Historians link the Pythians' demise in 1872 with the murder of their captain and leader. (122) As Lane observes, "the fortunes of Catto's beloved Pythians mirrored what was happening to his race." (123) Having lost their leader, and facing white violence throughout the country, the Pythians dismantled at the end of the 1871 season. According to the records, they played in only four games in 1871, with Catto making no appearances. While the Pythians could not go on without Catto's leadership, Catto seems to have lost the desire to pursue baseball even earlier, following the 1869 season. It seems that while the test of the nation watched interracial games with "curiosity," Catto by then understood that baseball was unwilling to challenge Reconstruction's racism and only confirmed it.

As Jim Crow intensified during the 1880s and 1890s, white press coverage of black baseball declined. Black baseball during this period still needs to be researched more extensively. Baseball the "business" grew during this era as well, and some black players were briefly able to play professionally. (124) This did not last long, however, as evidenced by the International League decision to adopt a written ban of blacks from its league, an identical stance to that which had been put in place by the NABBP twenty years earlier. In 1887, the major leagues adopted an unwritten "gentlemen's agreement" banning blacks as well. For the next sixty years, blacks were barred from the major leagues. During this period, virtually all professional black players were forced to play in the Negro Leagues. (125) At the very least, the Negro Leagues represent a black institution which remained financially lucrative in comparison to many other black enterprises of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nevertheless, this did nothing to legitimize black baseball in the ways that Catto had hoped. White spectators respected their ability to play, but black players remained unable to play against whites.

The story of Catto and the Pythian Club of Philadelphia demonstrates the limits of success through black civil-rights advocacy during Reconstruction in the North. Though Catto's accomplishments in gaining rights for African Americans in the army and on the streetcars of Philadelphia were remarkable for the era, the ultimate goal and test was through the Pythians. Due to their inability to integrate baseball, the Pythians provided further proof of the failures of the North as a whole to bring about civic equality that blacks had supposedly gained following the Civil War. DuBois described his frustration at the end of the nineteenth century regarding the feelings of disappointment within black Philadelphia:
   It cannot be denied that the main results of the development of the
   Philadelphia Negro since the war have on the whole disappointed his
   well-wishers. They do not pretend that he has not made great
   advance in certain lines, or even that in general he is not better
   off to-day than formerly. They do not even profess to know just
   what his condition to-day is, and yet there is a widespread feeling
   that more might reasonably have been expected in the line of social
   and moral development than apparently has been accomplished....
   [T]hose who, for one purpose and another, are anxiously watching
   the development of the American Negro desire to know first how far
   these general impressions are true, what the real condition of the
   Negro is and what movement would best be undertaken to improve the
   present situation. (126)


The Pythians learned quickly what the "real condition of the Negro" was. Blacks were only to receive certain rights enjoyed by white society during Reconstruction, while reformers in the federal government stood by a "growing insensitivity to the egalitarian aspirations of the former slaves." (127) Typically, the journalist E.L. Godkin suggested that blacks should simply pack their bags and move to states where governments still honored their rights. (128) In other words, whites had grown tired of assisting blacks in their right for equality.

Baseball, in the eyes of white America, could not give blacks the rights that they sought, because the implications were simply too great. Baseball had perhaps become "America's game" following the Civil War, but it reflected the country's racial divide. Between 1887 and 1947, organized black baseball continued to bespeak the principle of a country divided in "separate but equal" races. In practice, of course, whites were rather more equal than African Americans. Lynchings in the South became a regular spectacle, and black voters were met with hostility. Not until after the conclusion of the Second World War were blacks granted the right to join the previously all-white institution of baseball.

(1.) "A Novel Game in Philadelphia--A Negro Club in the Field--The White Club Victorious," New York Times, 5 September 1869, 1.

(2.) Daniel R. Biddle and Murray Dubin, Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America, Philadelphia, PA: Temple UP, 2010, 374.

(3.) Wilkes Spirit of the Times, 11 September 1869, 55.

(4.) Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, 471.

(5.) Ibid., 497.

(6.) Michael Lomax, Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1860-1901: Operating By Any Means Necessary, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP, 2003, 29.

(7.) Ibid., 27.

(8.) John Shiffert, Base Ball in Philadelphia: A History of the Early Game, 1831-1900, Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2006, 5.

(9.) Ibid., 57.

(10.) Ibid., 61.

(11.) J. Thomas Jable, "Sport in Philadelphia's African-American Community, 1865-1900," in George Eisen and David K. Wiggins, eds, Ethnicity and Sport in North American History and Culture, Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995: 157-176.

(12.) Ibid., 158.

(13.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 365.

(14.) Roger Lane, Roots of Violence in Black Philadelphia, 1860-1900, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1986, 47.

(15.) Harry C. Silcox, "Nineteenth Century Philadelphia Black Militant: Octavius V. Catto (1839-1871)," Pennsylvania History 1, 1977, 52-76: 75; Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 365, 376; Lomax, Black, 29-30.

(16.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 54.

(17.) William T. Catto, A Semi-Centenary Discourse Delivered in the First African Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, on the Fourth Sabbath of May, 1857, Philadelphia, PA, May 1857, 10; Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 54.

(18.) Catto, Semi-Centenary Discourse, 7.

(19.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 56.

(20.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 57. For Catto's involvement in the Banneker Debating Society, see "MS Banneker Institute Minutes 1855-1859," Leon Gardiner Collection of American Negro Historical Society Records, 1790-1905 (microfilm) [From here: Gardiner Collection], Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

(21.) As quoted in Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 203; Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 57.

(22.) Darlene Hine and Earnestine Jenkins, eds, A Question of Manhood, vol. 2: From Emancipation to Jim Crow, Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1999, 409; Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 203.

(23.) Adelaide M. Cromwell, Unveiled Voices, Unvarnished Memories: The Cromwell Family in Slavery and Segregation, 1692-1972, Columbia, MI: U. of Missouri P., 2006, 97.

(24.) W.E.B. DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro, New York: Schocken Books, 1899, 26-7.

(25.) Ibid., 27-8.

(26.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 58-9.

(27.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 224-5. Prior to the 4 July 1859 rally in Philadelphia, Biddle and Dubin note that most blacks in the city celebrated America's Independence Day

on 5 July or 1 August partly because of the danger of white hostility, but also in protest to slavery. Many black leaders and intellectuals lived by the motto "no celebration until emancipation." Catto, however, "had made no such pledge" (Biddle and Dubin Tasting Freedom, 224).

(28.) Ibid., 226.

(29.) Ibid.

(30.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 57.

(31.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 59; Philadelphia Inquirer, 1 June 1863, 1; Russell E Weigley, "The Border City in Civil War, 1854-1865," in Philadelphia: A Three-Hundred-Year History, New York: Norton, 1982, 363-416: 408-9. Philadelphia whites did not share the same patriotic enthusiasm as their black counterparts because the Confederate Army had already entered Pennsylvania, and many white Philadelphians were tired of war. Instead of electing to join the ranks as Curtin and Henry called for, whites generally "went about their business, some going to the race tracks at Point Breeze and Suffolk Park" (Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 288). Many felt that peace should be made between the Union and Confederacy at whatever cost.

(32.) Frederick M. Binder, "Pennsylvania Negro Regiments in the Civil War," Journal of Negro History 37, October 1952: 383-417.

(33.) For the quotation from Weekly Anglo-African, see Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 283.

(34.) For one such telling poster, Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 290.

(35.) Ibid., 291.

(36.) Ibid.

(37.) For this use of Lapsansky-Werner's theory, see Ibid. See for instance Emily Lapsansky-Werner, "Teamed Up With the PAS: Images of Black Philadelphia," Pennsylvania Legacies November 2005, 11-15: 13.

(38.) Ibid.; Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 59.

(39.) As quoted in Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 292.

(40.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 59; Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 292. Silcox concludes that "considering the dire state of the nation, Couch's view indicates his prejudice" (Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 59).

(41.) The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, vol. 27, part 3, 203.

(42.) As quoted in Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 60.

(43.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 61; Binder, "Pennsylvania," 389-90.

(44.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 61.

(45.) As quoted in Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 62.

(46.) As quoted in Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 64.

(47.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 64-5.

(48.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 324.

(49.) Ibid.

(50.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 325-6.

(51.) Ibid.

(52.) Foner, Reconstruction, 469, 471.

(53.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 333-5; Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 65.

(54.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 342.

(55.) Ibid., 346.

(56.) Ibid.

(57.) Philip S. Foner, "The Battle to End Discrimination Against Negroes on Philadelphia Streetcars: (Part II) The Victory," Pennsylvania History 40, 1973, 355-79: 366-7.

(58.) Foner, Reconstruction, 467.

(59.) Ibid., 486-7.

(60.) Foner, Reconstruction, 467.

(61.) Alexander K. McClure, Old Time Notes of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA: John C. Winston, 1905, 596; Lane, Roots of Violence, 50; Christian Recorder, 30 June 1866, 1.

(62.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 350.

(63.) For the Christian Recorder quotation, see William Still, A Brief Narrative of the Struggle for the Rights of the Colored people of Philadelphia in the City Railway cars, and a Defence of William Still ... 1867, Philadelphia, PA: Rhistoric Publications, 1969, 2, 23, 374; Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 351; Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 65.

(64.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 353-4. State legislators anticipated that blacks would soon be allowed to vote, especially because Radical Republicans in Congress were advocating relentlessly for the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment.

(65.) Foner, Reconstruction, 470-1.

(66.) Shiffert, Base Ball, 37.

(67.) William J. Ryczek, When Johnny Came Sliding Home: The Post-Civil War Baseball Boom, 1865-1870, London: McFarland & Company, 1998, 1, 11.

(68.) William J. Baker, Jesse Owens: An American Life, New York: Free Press, 1986, 139; Ryczek, When Johnny, 11.

(69.) Arthur R. Ashe, Jr., A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, 1619-1918, New York: Warner Books, 1988, 69.

(70.) George B. Kirsch, Baseball in Blue and Gray: The National Pastime during the Civil War, Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2003, 14.

(71.) Ibid., 16.

(72.) Ibid., 15.

(73.) Ryczek, When Johnny, 15.

(74.) Kirsch, Baseball, 28.

(75.) Peter Morris, But Didn't We Have Fun? An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843-1870, Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee, 2008, 161.

(76.) Ryczek, When Johnny, 88.

(77.) Kirsch, Baseball, 115.

(78.) Foner, Reconstruction, 460.

(79.) Kitsch, Baseball, 115.

(80.) Kirsch, Baseball, 115-16. For an examination of President Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction policies, see Michael Les Benedict, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson, New York: W.W. Norton, 1973; Eric L. McKitrick, Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction, Chicago, IL: U. of Chicago P., 1960. It became quite clear in 1865 that federal intervention was absolutely necessary to rebuild the South, but Johnson's belief in establishing a firm stance on states' rights and Southern sympathy eventually became a growing problem in the start of and continuation of Reconstruction during Johnson's presidency.

(81.) Lomax, Black, 11-13.

(82.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 66.

(83.) Lane, Roots, 29, 52.

(84.) "The Papers of the Pythian Club of Philadelphia, 1867-1870," Gardiner Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

(85.) Foner, Reconstruction, 460, 464.

(86.) Lane, Roots, 34; Lomax, Black, 11. The highest population of blacks in the North during the early 1860s was in Baltimore where there were 25,600.

(87.) Lane, Roots, 25, 27.

(88.) Anthony G. DiFiore, "Shadow Game-The Philadelphia Pythians and 19th Century African American Baseball," Media, PA: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2007, 2.

(89.) As quoted in Lomax, Black, 19.

(90.) "The Papers of the Pythian Club," 15 June 1867.

(91.) "The Papers of the Pythian Club," 22 August 1867; Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 66.

(92.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 363.

(93.) Ibid., 364.

(94.) "The Papers of the Pythian Club," 30 June 1867; Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 365.

(95.) "The Papers of the Pythian Club," 30 June 1867.

(96.) "Article II," Constitution and By-Laws of the National Association of Base Ball Players with the Rules and Regulations of the Game of Base Ball, New York: Ames, Macfarlane & Co., Printers, 1867, 10.

(97.) Catto may have been the first black politician to use baseball as a means for civil rights during the nineteenth century, but he was not the first politician to promote equality between the races through the game. Ohio Congressman Joshua R. Giddings, a well-known abolitionist, reportedly participated in the first game played between blacks (see George W. Julian, The Life of Joshua R. Giddings, Chicago: A.C. McGlurg, 1892, 399). The only white participant that day, Giddings was known to play "without distinction as to race, color, or previous condition of servitude" (ibid.). Catto's call for equality through baseball may have been much more direct than that of Giddings, but their messages were certainly similar.

(98.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 364-5.

(99.) Ibid.

(100.) See "Letter to President & Members Pythian B.B.C.," 18 December 1867, "Exploring Diversity in Pennsylvania History: Philadelphia's Pythian Base Ball Club," Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Institute for Ethnic Studies, 1 (available at: hsp.org/sites/default/ files/attachments/1867report.pdf, accessed 21 May 2012); Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 365-6.

(101.) "Letter to President," 1-2.

(102.) Ibid., 2.

(103.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 367.

(104.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 68.

(105.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 367; Shiffert, Base Ball, 57.

(106.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 367.

(107.) Foner, Reconstruction, 479.

(108.) Ibid., 480.

(109.) As quoted by Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 368.

(110.) Shiffert, Base Ball, 60; Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 370-371.

(111.) As quoted in Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 371.

(112.) Ibid., 371.

(113.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 371.

(114.) As quoted in Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 373.

(115.) Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 373.

(116.) Jerrold Casway, "Octavius Catto and the Pythians of Philadelphia," Pennsylvania Legacies 1, 2007, 5-9; New York Clipper 18, 8 October 1870, 213; Lomax, Black, 29.

(117.) Marshall D. Wright, The National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870, London: McFarland & Company, 2000, 141.

(118.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 71-2.

(119.) Ibid., 72; Philadelphia Press, 14 October 1871.

(120.) Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 72-3.

(121.) As quoted in Biddle and Dubin, Tasting Freedom, 431-2; Silcox, "Nineteenth Century," 73-4; DuBois, Philadelphia Negro, 39-40.

(122.) Lomax, Black, 30; Jable, "Sport," 165; Shiffert, Base Ball, 61.

(123.) Lane, Roots, 54; Casway, "Octavius Catto," 9.

(124.) Jable, "Sport," 165; Lomax, Black, 30. The first player to integrate the major leagues following this "gentlemen's agreement" was Jackie Robinson when he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

(125.) For works regarding the Negro Leagues, see Neil Lanctot, Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution, Philadelphia, PA: U. of Pennsylvania P., 2004; Lawrence D. Hogan, Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball, Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2006.

(126.) DuBois, Philadelpbia Negro, 43.

(127.) Foner, Reconstruction, 498.

(128.) William M. Armstrong, ed., The Gilded Age Letters of E.L. Godkin, Albany, NY: SUNY P., 1974, 75.

Stephen Segal is a M.A. graduate in U.S. History from Clark University (Worcester, MA), and this article was written during his time as a M.A. student. This is his first published work. Mr. Segal is currently a law student at the University of Maine School of Law. He would like to thank the Clark University History Department, and give a special thanks to Professor Janette Greenwood and Professor Doug Little for advising him on this project.
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Date:Sep 22, 2012
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