See Our Torn Flag Still Waving was written shortly after the Kensington, Pennsylvania Massacre of 1844. The bloody riot specifically targeted Irish Catholics and involved mostly Irish immigrants in opposition to American Nativists.The author is unknown by name and simply annotated as “A Native.” The piece was composed and arranged by James W. Porter and dedicated “respectfully to the American Republicans of the United States.The torn American Flag became the symbol of American Nativism and used by the American Republican party in its fight for immigration restriction.  An article in the Republic, a Nativists magazine, sites Irish carters for disturbing a meeting of the American Republicans and starting the riot.  The Catholic Herald presented a different perpsective. The May 9th article reported the meeting was assembled in order to discuss the disturbance from a prior meeting held by the Irish population. The riots were broken up by police and reconvened on May 3 and 6. Participation in the Kensington Riots involved several Irish fire departments.  Military intervention became necessary to bring an end to the violence on May 7th. The torn American flag was meant to symbolize the tearing apart of America by the influx of immigrants.

This piece of sheet music is part of the Lester S. Levy Collection at Johns Hopkins University.  Levy was an American born Jewish philanthropist from Baltimore, Maryland.  He assembled the collection of sheet music over a 55 year period. The uniqueness of the collection is reflected, not in the music itself but, in what each piece historically represents; celebrations, disasters, wars, as well as movements like abolition  and women’s sufferage.  Levy later concentrated on the illustrations from the covers of the sheet music as a separate historical representation.


Library of Congress. (accessed April 1, 2009)

Johns Hopkins University. Levy Sheet Music Collection (accessed April 19, 2009)

Patrick, Francis. “Riot.” (Philadelphia) Catholic Herald, May 9, 1844. (accessed April 19, 2009)

“Kensington Massacre.” The Republic, A Magazine for the Defence of Civil and Religious Liberty, No. 1 August 1845. (accessed April 19, 2009)

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