Item/Auction Attributes

printed silk,
Circa 1844.
Very good overall condition with minor scattered discoloration. Several small areas of loss, larger loss to upper corner of fly edge. Not examined out of frame.
18 1/2" x 27" object, 22 1/2" x 31 1/4" OA.
Provenance: The Important Americana Collection of Barbara M. and the late Charlie Hunter, Staunton, VA. Cowan's Auctions, 5/20/2004, lot 581.
Catalogue Note: The present flag banner was created to commemorate the Kensington Riots in Philadelphia and promote the agenda of the "Native American" party. In early May of 1844, sporadic episodes of violence between Protestant and Catholic working class laborers erupted in the Kensington neighborhood of present-day Philadelphia. Tension had been building in the city for years prior as large numbers of Irish Catholic immigrants had been pouring into the area, fleeing famine and/or persecution in their homeland overseas. Arriving to a tight labor market and a country struggling through an economic depression, Irish laborers were viewed with disdain by so-called native Protestant workers because of the former group's perceived willingness to work for lower wages and because of longstanding American cultural prejudice against Catholics and Catholicism in general. The violence in Kensington in early May of 1844 led to the deaths of at least twelve citizens, and nearly 200 homes and Catholic churches were destroyed by the time order was restored. Several of those killed, including George Shiffler, whose name appears first on the column depicted on the present flag, were members of a nascent political party known as the "American" party, or the "Native American" party, later referred to as "Know Nothings" by the opposition. The Native American party supported a staunchly anti-immigration platform, even proposing that immigrants coming to the United States who did qualify for admittance must wait 21 years before receiving citizenship (see the slogan inscribed on the canton for the preceding lot). On July 4, 1844, the Native American party held a large parade in Philadelphia to commemorate the events in Kensington two months before. It is believed the marchers numbered in excess of 3,000 with some 70,000 onlookers present. The current flag banner, an incredibly rare survivor given its fragile silk composition, was likely used in conjunction with this parade.