Is Philly’s Octavius Catto Monument a Warning?

1.pngDespite being oversaturated with historic monuments, murals, structures, and artifacts in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and specifically the city of Philadelphia, it is endlessly troubling how detached our citizens seem to be from that history.

Recently, a small, but nevertheless obnoxious, group of individuals led by Councilwoman-at-Large and Asian spirit who kills you seven days after seeing her face, Helen Gym, has been raising a stink about the existence of a monument for former Mayor Frank Rizzo. Largely due to these (pardon the expression) “bitch-fits”, Philadelphia has taken a larger initiative in generating more progressive and social-justice oriented statues around the city.

Recently a new monument was unveiled on the south side of City Hall featuring a large statue of Civil War Era Philadelphia resident, Octavius Catto. The monument reads:

“There must come a change which shall force upon this nation that course which providence seems wisely to be directing for the mutual benefit of peoples.”

Nothing confusing about that…

1The monument is also titled A Quest for Parity, which is clearly an attempt to find a suitable synonym for “equality” that went horribly awry. Almost everything about this monument is a slap in the face both to the intellectually honest and, most hilariously, to the government of the City of Philadelphia.

So, who is Octavius Catto? Good question, because no one in this city seems to have any idea.

Octavius Catto was a mixed-race free man from South Carolina who moved out of the slave state as a child with his family to Baltimore, then Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, he became a teacher and began to organize other free black men to fight for the Union war effort.

Although he was commissioned to be a major in the Union Army, he did not join–as a 2013 Philadelphia memorial placard would have us believe.

He was a celebrated community organizer who fought against segregation and spoke on behalf of racial progress; specifically encouraging the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870. He accomplished a lot, succeeded in his goals, made a significant impact on the city, state, and nation. So why don’t we hear more about him?

Well, that’s the sticky wicket…see…Octavius Catto was a Republican, as many of the privileged classes in the North were. The lower immigrant classes, however, were Democrats–notably, the Irish–who would consistently clash with black voters and other Republicans in the streets of Philadelphia. These clashes led to further reasons for educated black men like Catto to defend themselves. Unfortunately for him, he was shot and killed by an Irish Democrat on Election Day, one year after the nation ratified the 15th Amendment, enshrining his right to vote.

Catto_shooting

To put things in historical perspective, the Democratic Party was the party of slavery, anti-reconstruction, segregation, the KKK, and continued to be so through voting against all civil rights acts through the 1960s. Today, every major city run by Democrats experiences intense crime and destitute minority populations caused by (and perpetuated by) debilitating policies of constant welfare. The Democratic Party has never wavered in their attempts to keep black populations in the hole; they just gained power in the major cities and changed their tactics.

Octavius Catto is a martyr to the black Republican cause; not the first “woke” black man, but one among many who escaped the proverbial and literal “Democrat Plantation.”

One would need to look no further than a famous quote by Democratic hero and possible worst President ever, LBJ:

“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”

This quote is often confused with the more notable LBJ quote (but less corroborated): “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for 200 years.”

1
Octavius Catto Sculptor Branly Cadet works on a Jackie Robinson design.

The Democratic Party tends to get very touchy when their motivations and history are put into perspective; which ultimately caused me to question the installation of this monument. After all, they wanted to tear down statues of other notable Democrats from history: Robert E. Lee…Frank Rizzo…

So, why would an almost entirely Democratic City commission and raise a monument to a Republican Martyr? Pure incompetence? Arrogance?

Or is it something more sinister?

Perhaps the Octavius Catto statue isn’t meant as a memorial to the accomplishments of a particular champion for civil rights and Negro League Baseball…but as a warning to the city’s minority population from Democratic Leadership; reminding them what happens when they step out of line.

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9 Replies to “Is Philly’s Octavius Catto Monument a Warning?”

  1. What are your thoughts on the ideals switch in the Democratic and Republican parties that occurred in the 1800’s and 1900’s? It seems like you’re misrepresenting the truth by leaving out how fluid the beliefs and policies of the parties have been over the last 200 years.

  2. There wasn’t an ideals switch. And I proved that point above. The only policy switch that occurred was a concentration on states rights from the Republican Party because the populations shifted and they lost power in major cities. You’re mistaken

  3. I thought you wanted a legit discussion about a serious issue in our city. What you want is to write clickbait fluff. Hopefully other people do their own research.

  4. That is an excellent article. I have lived in California for almost 50 years but, when I was a boy, I walked through Philadelphia’s City Hall every day to catch my bus home from high school. I remember walking between the equestrian statues of Generals Reynolds and McClellan. This monument to Octavius Catto is a very appropriate addition. The older I become, the more grateful I am for my youth in Philadelphia.

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