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New York Civil War Draft Riots

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Ross Barber

on 7 January 2013

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Transcript of New York Civil War Draft Riots

New York Draft Riots
By Ross Barber In September of 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This meant that all slaves fighting against the union were free. This document was a breakthrough for all abolitionists. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, was becoming scared of the support for the abolitionists and Emancipation Proclamation. One of the especially frightened groups within the Democratic Party was the Irish. (10) Most of the Irish had migrated to America in the mid 1800s. The Irish had started at the bottom of the working-class and, like most immigrants had, began to work their way up the economic ladder. When they learned that the Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves, they feared that they would be in much fiercer competition for their jobs.They feared that everything that they had done to come to America and try to scrape out a living was at risk. This caused lots of tension to arise between the Irish and African Americans. (9) To make matters worse, in 1863 the draft law was initiated. It stated that unless a man could pay the toll of 300 dollars or have another man stand in his place, then he would enter a lottery. If your name was pulled from the lottery, then you would be required to serve in the military as long as necessary. However, since African Americans were not entirely considered citizens of the United States, their names were not entered. The Irish felt that this was a personal attack on them and all other working-class and lower-class citizens. (1) Soon, however, the rioters started to destroy other government and military buildings. Unfortunately, the destruction of these buildings was not sufficient enough to calm their rage. By the afternoon, they began to attack buildings that were important to African Americans in any way. They destroyed anything of social, political, and economic importance to the African Americans. The rioters even began attacking any person that stood between them and their next target. (10) The rioters still weren't satisfied. They began attacking African Americans and any buildings that they were associated with them at all. First, they attacked a local fruit vendor and a nine year-old boy. They then proceeded to go to the Colored Orphan Asylum. (5) While the rioters advanced on the orphanage, the matron and superintendent of the orphanage took the children out of the orphanage. Surprisingly, the rioters did not touch any of the children as the superintendent and matron led them away. However, the same can not be said for observers who attempted to stop the rioters from demolishing the building. (1) At that point, the rioters had made their message clear. However, they still didn't stop. Throughout the rest of the week, they terrorized African Americans to absolute extremes. They even started attacking people that seemed overly sympathetic to African Americans. They destroyed anything that catered to African Americans. Near the end of the week, federal troops arrived and fought against the rioters. (10) Even though federal troops arrived, it took them almost two days to restore peace. This gave the rioters a longer amount of time to cause mayhem and disorder throughout the city. The rioters last major targets were the docks. In the March of 1863, white employers had started hiring African Americans as longshoremen. White longshoremen had refused to work with them, but the African Americans also refused to leave. During the riot, Irish dockworkers attacked over 200 African Americans and destroyed any evidence that the African Americans had ever been at the docks. (1) Throughout the next two days, rioters destroyed property of African Americans, abolitionists, government officials, and anyone that seemed overly sympathetic of African Americans. They harassed African American men, women, and even children. The federal soldiers dispersed the rioters wherever they could find them, which did reduce the violence until the riots were completely done. (8) Anyone who tried to resist or fight the rioters were singled out for special harassment. Sometimes, African Americans were killed by the rioters. The rioters would then hang the bodies from lampposts, throw the bodies in the river, or even mutilate the dead bodies. At one point in the riot, rioters started a bonfire and threw the deceased African Americans in it. (8) Surprisingly, the rioters never attacked any African Americans in Five Points. Many historians believe that the rioters completely skipped this section of New York because it was the section of New York City that happened to have the most Irish activity. (11) By the end of the week, the rioters had killed over twenty African Americans. They had destroyed countless numbers of houses and other forms of property for having even the slightest of relations with African Americans or the federal government. African Americans, in the scores, fled the city during the riots. However, even after the riots, most of them remained where they were after the riots had long passed. (1) The Irish had had enough. On Monday, July 13, 1863, Irish workers met and, together, started one of the biggest riots in history, if not the most memorable in all of America's history. At first, the riot was directed only at the destruction of the drafting buildings. (5) After dealing with this nuisance, the rioters continued with their task. They raided the orphanage and took almost anything of value that they could before setting it on fire. Despite the efforts of the New York firefighters, the building burned to the ground in twenty minutes. (6) (2) (3) (4) (5) (8) (6) (1) (7) (5) (5) (8) (8) (12) (13) (1) 1) Harris, Leslie. "The New York City Draft Riots of 1863." www.presuchicago.edu. University of Chicago. 2003. Web. December 13, 2012.

2) McMillan, Peter. "Irish Immigration." http://www.spartacusschoolnet.co.uk/USAEireland.htm. Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd. 1997 Web. 12/13/12

3) Watkins, Tate. "Low Skilled Immigration and the Working Class." tatewatkins.com Disqus Inc. February 13, 2012. Web. December 19, 2012.

4) Paul. "Resumption of the Draft." http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation.civil-war/1863/semptember/new-york-draft.htm.
Son of the South Inc. 2003. Web. December 19, 2012.

5) O'Blivion. "July 13: New York Draft Riots." pogues.com.
The Pogues Forums Inc. July 13, 2012. Web. 12/19/12

6) Brown Peter. "The Lighted Fuse" riotrelieffund.org. Riot Relief Fund Inc. 2005. Web. 12/19/12.

7) New York Public Library Picture Collection (No Author). "Dining Rooms New York State New York" digitalgallery.nypl.org. New York Public Library. 10/27/05. Web. 12/19/12.

8) Sheryl. "On This Day: New York City Draft Riots." gvshp.org Off The Grid Inc. July 13, 2011. Web. 12/19/12.

9) Kinsella, Clan. "Irish Immigrants in America During The 19th Century." www.kinsella.org. Kinsella International Registry Inc. August, 2008. Web. 12/19/12.

10) Miller, Laura. "New York City Draft Riots of 1863." newyorkdraftriot.blogspot.com. Blogspot Inc. April 17, 2009. Web. 12/19/12.

11) McNamara, Robert. "The Five Points, New York's Most Notorious Neighborhood." history1800s.about.com 1800s History About.com Corporation. 2012. Web. 12/19/12.

12) Owner: Etsy Inc. "Brewery Five Points New York City c. 1853 Wood Engraving." etsy.com Etsy Inc. 2012. Web. 12/19/12.

13) Mangello, Jim. "Race and The North After the Civil War." remybumppofieldguide.org Remy Bumppo Theatre Company. 2012. Web. 12/19/12.

14) No Author. "Gangs of New York (11/12) Movie Clip - The Draft Riots (2002) HD" Movie Clips Inc. September 28, 2011. Web. 12/19/12. (14) (2) (6) (6)
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