Pope Night (also called Pope's Night, Pope Day, or Pope's Day) was a holiday celebrated annually on November 5 in the colonial United States. It evolved from the British Guy Fawkes Night, which commemorates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Pope Night was most popular in the seaport towns of New England, especially in Boston, where it was an occasion for drinking, rioting, and anti-elite protest by the working class.
Gang violence became part of the tradition in the 1740s, with residents of different Boston neighborhoods battling for the honor of burning the pope's effigy. By the mid-1760s these riots had subsided, and as colonial America moved towards the American Revolution (1765-1783), the class rivalries of Pope Night gave way to anti-British sentiment. Under the leadership of Pope Night organizer Ebenezer Mackintosh, Boston's North and South End gangs united in protest against the Stamp Act of 1765.
Local authorities made several attempts to crack down on the festivities. In 1775, to avoid offending Canadian allies, George Washington issued an order forbidding any troops under his command from participating. The last known Pope Night celebration in Boston took place in 1776, though the tradition continued in other towns well into the 19th century.
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