BLACK WOMEN’S ECONOMIC POWER: VISUALIZING DOMESTIC SPACES IN THE 1830s
REBECCA AND CHARLES SHORT
Charles and Rebecca Short’s tavern, Union Hotel, is also listed as a place where tickets could be had for Whipper’s Reading Room address. Whipper clearly approached many businesses in the area to garner support for the Reading Room Society. The availability of Whipper’s Reading Room tickets, at a space devoted to socializing and entertainment, demonstrate the practical ways African-American intellectual discourse was developed in the nineteenth century. The hotel was conveniently located across the street from Bethel AME Church and Wesley Church, places where the conventions were held.
Charles Short was an honorary member of the very first convention, the 1830 Constitution of the American Society of Free Persons of Colour. The Shorts were well off and respected in the community. They were also acquainted with John C. Bowers and Stephen H. Gloucester, who were both active in the Colored Conventions movement. Charles Short was also one of the earliest public advocates and patron of the short-lived newspaper Rights of All founded by Samuel E. Cornish. In October 1829, members of Philadelphia’s Black elite met at Wesley Church at Lombard St. “to ascertain how far the public department of ‘Rights of All,’ is conducted, and if approved of, to devise measures for the increasing patronage of the Paper.”1 Short was part of the committee that approved general patronage and continued support for Cornish’s paper.
After her husband’s death, Rebecca Short had to put up notices letting debtors know where and with whom to settle monies owed to her late husband. The Shorts were wealthy enough to lend money to numerous individuals. Rebecca Short moved to Salem, Massachusetts, where she continued to generously share her time and money. When she died in 1846, reports of her death in newspapers extolled many of her virtues, emphasizing her piety and willingness to help the sick and the poor.