Stone-throwing and gunfire: A riot at a political meeting in Northeastern Pennsylvania in 1860

Wynning History

In the late summer and autumn of 1860, the looming election sparked heated political rhetoric, marches in support of political causes, and whispered talk of a coming civil war.

These feelings manifest themselves in a violent skirmish between Republicans and Democrats on the streets of a Wayne County community on September 28, 1860. The fight in Hawley, which started with shouted chants and ended with stone throwing and pistol shots, pitted the proto-military “Wide Awakes” of Honesdale in support of Abraham Lincoln against canal boatmen on the Delaware and Hudson Canal who supported Democratic candidate Stephen Douglas.

A map of Hawley, Wayne County from 1860 showing the railroads and canal that made this community hum with activity and made it politically important in that crucial election year.

The Wide Awake movement blasted into existence during the 1860 election and featured mostly young men marching late at night with torches and in pseudo-military uniform. Across the Coal Region…

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