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MINUTES OF THE PHILADELPHIA COUNCIL'S COMMITTEE ON POLICE

About the item

Small wallet-style leather notebook, 15 x 11 cm., approx. 48 pp. of brief manuscript notes, plus lists of the names of the committee and sub-committee members, a few newspaper clippings, and printed "watchman" or "almanac" calendars laid down. Also laid down, on the front endpaper, a small printed notice, 4 x 9 cm., on the "Regulation of the State House Bell in Case of Fire." Leather along one joint worn and splitting, some other rubbing, wallet flap present. Notes of minutes kept during occasional meetings of the Committee on Police, Charles A. Poulson, chairman, most from 1844-1846, including Feb. - May 1844, Nov. & Dec. 1845, Jan. - March, & Nov. 1846. Between 1847-1852 there is only a record of the names of the committee members, no other notes. The bulk of the material recorded here relates to activities of the committee regulating the police force, and contracting for city services related to safety between Feb. 1844 and Nov. 1846. The city was transitioning the street lamps from oil to gas, and a small newspaper clipping examines the relative costs of the two systems. The committee authorized drawing funds from the treasury for payment of the night watch, and for pilot cloth to furnish the men with "watch coats." Costs are recorded for repairing or constructing station houses, paying salaries of the night and day police, lighting Delaware Avenue with gas lamps, contracting for 100 gas lamp posts "of the most approved pattern," etc. Also discussed was the expedience of erecting alarm fire bells on the several station houses, ordinances to prevent the hanging of signs in certain places, setting aside a stand for market wagons on Delaware and 9th St., from Cedar to Chestnut, and from High to Vine Streets, and replacing two worn out lamps in front of Independence Hall. The committee contracted with Lewis Debozier to cast four fire alarm bells of not less than 500 lbs. each, and with the city carpenter for "constructing the necessary apparatus for ringing the same." Of particular note is a small section entitled "Riots," in the minutes for May 8, 1844. The Chairman was authorized to recommend to the City Council that an appropriation of $5000 be made to defray "any expenses for special police purposes." [This is a reference to the Philadelphia Nativist Riots which took place between May 6-8, an anti-Catholic, anti-Popery backlash directed at the Irish immigrant population in the city. Some Catholic churches were burned, and several protestors were killed]. In December 1845, the committee considered a proposal to supply the police with mace and rattles, and a note mentions Gen. Cadwalader and the Jefferson guards. There was also a mention of the need to provide $150 for transportation to Philadelphia for a prisoner being held in a Cincinnati jail on a murder charge.
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375 USD

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