Four Days in May
In 1838, more than 2,000 people bought "shares" and raised $40,000 to build Pennsylvania Hall. It is a fundraising model similar to that of WHYY, which, by fate or coincidence, now occupies the site where Pennsylvania Hall once stood.
"I learnt with great satisfaction," wrote the former President John Quincy Adams for the Hall's dedication, that Philadelphians now had a place "wherein liberty and equality of civil rights can be freely discussed, and the evils of slavery fearlessly portrayed."
Adams' letter was read from the podium below the words "Virtue, Liberty and Independence." It was May 14, 1838. Three days later, in the midst of its dedication ceremonies, the building was gone, burned by an angry mob.
Joel Rose, Producer and Editor
Viet Le, Rachael Berenguer and Jennifer Lynn, Associate Producers
Elisabeth Perez-Luna, Executive Producer
Kenneth Finkel, Executive Director, Arts & Culture Service
Funding was provided by The William Penn Foundation.
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Marking Pennsylvania History
Philadelphia was a hub for the anti-slavery movement in the years before the Civil War. But many Philadelphians sympathized with neighboring slave states, and opposed abolition. WHYY's Jennifer Lynn has a the story of Pennsylvania Hall -- a short-lived haven for reformers. [Listen]
Back to Marking Pennsylvania History homepage.