The Hard Scrabble Riot of 1824 sparked after a group of African men refused to give up the “inside walk” to a group of white men in Providence. On October 18, 1824, violence broke out when a mob of white residents from Providence attacked a section of North Main Street.
Reports estimate that around twenty homes belonging to blacks were destroyed. A few days before the riot was sparked Chief Justice William Spear contributed to an editorial piece to the Providence Beacon. He commented that black people were “naturally vicious and wicked.” Even before the riot took place the city was deemed as being plagued with criminals.
Although Rhode Island contained one of the highest percentages of free blacks throughout the U.S., there was still a significant racial divide, and at the time of the riot, suffrage was only allowed to white male land owners. Only four rioters were ever tried for the Hard Scrabble incident, and all but one was acquitted.
After the riot, the mistreatment of blacks did not stop. African Americans were still assaulted and often mistreated at the hands of white citizens. It was not long before another racial riot known as the “Snow Town Riot, “took place. The town was an integrated working-class community that was assaulted by white rioters in 1831. However, during this particular riot, a white man was killed by a black resident for throwing stones at his home.