As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it's important to note that Philadelphians at the time had differing political and ideological opinions about the war. Though most officials and residents of the City of Brotherly Love were pro-Union, there were Copperheads, or pro-Southern residents, here as well.

At the end of the Civil War, a purported plot was uncovered (or at least widely rumored in private journals and the press) that Confederate sympathizers planned to set fire to the city. Sidney George Fisher, a resident of Philadelphia, recorded in his diary on May 3, 1865, how "the government has discovered a plot to burn Phila. . . . It was discovered by means of a letter dropped by a suspected person while pursued by police. This city was to have been burned on Monday last. It is believed that 800 persons are concerned in the plot and that it originated with rebel refugees in Canada & was approved in the South."

Whether the plot was more rumor than reality, the story continued in the news for days. Newspapers had no shortage of theories as to its origin and the identity of the would-be arsonists. The Daily Age advocated that "the alarm was entirely a scheme of certain prizefighters and their friends to engage the police in guarding the city so earnestly" that they would thus be less inclined to observe their lawless activities.