new-york-draft-riots

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July 13th 1863: New York Draft Riots begin

On this day in 1863, riots broke out in New York City in protest of Congress’ passage of a conscription law to enlist all men aged between 20 and 45 to fight in the Union army during the Civil War. Violence began on the second day of military officers randomly selecting names for the draft, when a notoriously aggressive volunteer fire department arrived and began a brawl. The majority of rioters were poor members of the working classes, as they were particularly aggrieved by the law’s $300 commutation clause which allowed richer men to pay their way out of enlistment. Over the following days, the riot became less about the draft and more about general grievances, and many of the initial rioters backed away from the ugly turn the revolt had taken. Anger at the Republican government was expressed though attacks on symbols of their power like railroads and telegraph lines and the headquarters of Republican newspaper the New York Tribune. This led some contemporary observers, like diarist George Templeton Strong, to see the riot as a pro-Confederate plot. Racial tensions also came to the surface as Irish workers, who had long competed with African-Americans for jobs, took out their anger by attacking black citizens and burning a black orphanage. The riot only ended on July 16th when federal troops, many fresh from the fields of Gettysburg, intervened and quashed the riot; the riots remain the largest civilian insurrection in American history, bar the Civil War itself.

We are the poor rabble, and the rich rabble is our enemy by this law. Therefore we will give our enemy battle right here, and ask no quarter. Although we got hard fists, and are dirty without, we have soft hearts, and have clean consciences within”
- a letter from one of the rioters, published in the New York Times

New York, July 13, 1863

Colonel James B. Fry
Provost Marshal General
Washington, DC

My Head Quarters are destroyed and the draft in the Ninth district of this state is temporarily suspended.  My lists etc are I think preserved in the safe.

I opened my Head Quarters this morning at 7.15 o clock and soon after began to receive reports from my special officers who are well acquainted with the district and which satisfied me that an attempt would be made to stop the draft.  They were trustworthy men and I was obliged to believe the reports.  I at once sent a request to AAPM G Nugent to detail for my support a sergeant two …

Letter from Charles Jenkins to Provost Marshal General James Fry, 07/13/1863

July 13th, marks the 150th anniversary of the New York City Draft Riots, violent protests against the Civil War draft that lasted four days and resulted in over 1,000 casualties and millions of dollars of property destruction. 

This document provides an eyewitness account from the Ninth District Provost Marshal office.  Located on the corner of Third Avenue and 46th Street, the Ninth District office was chosen to begin the draft on July 11th because it was in a less densely populated part of 19th century Manhattan; Provost Marshal General James Fry elected to stagger the draft process to subdue potential rebellion.  Within a half hour of resuming the draft lottery on July 13th, the building was overtaken by hundreds of people and burned to the ground.  At the time this letter was written, the full extent of damage was still unknown.  Similar acts of vandalism and destruction were reported throughout the city as the riots spread.  The mobs initially targeted government buildings and representatives before focusing their violence towards the African-American community. 

via the National Archives at New York on Facebook

On this date, July 13, in 1863, the New York Draft Riots occurred. This has been described as Four Days Of Terror centered on racism over the Civil War.

Lincoln had freed the slaves and now he was recruiting Northern men into the army and forcing them to fight and die to make his proclamation a reality. As a result, many white workers in the North reasoned that free Blacks would be competing for their jobs. The unfair draft laws caused deep resentment throughout the North, and in the summer of 1863, protests and outbreaks of violence were common in virtually every Northern state.  [Continue reading at the African American Registry.]

For further reading and research, see also:

The Devil’s Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America

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by Barnet Schecter. [book link
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The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War

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by Iver Bernstein. [book link
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The Draft Riots in New York, July, 1863 (Civil War)

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by David Barnes. [book link
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The Armies of the Streets: The New York City Draft Riots of 1863

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by Adrian Cook. [book link
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Irish anger at the New York City draft led to the New York Draft Riots of 1863
The New York City draft riots (July 13 to July 16, 1863; known at the time as Draft Week) were violent disturbances in New York City that were the culmination of working-class discontent with new laws passed by Congress that year to draft men to fight in the ongoing American Civil War. The riots were the largest civil insurrection in American history.

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$300 Man. Live, in a laundry mat…

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“…the news from New York City indicates that both mail & telegraphic communications are interrupted with Washington…”

Letter to Captain John Godfrey Calling for the Postponement New Hampshire Draft because of Draft Riots in New York, 07/14/1863

July 13th marks the 150th anniversary of the New York City Draft Riots, violent protests against the Civil War draft that lasted four days and resulted in over 1,000 casualties and millions of dollars of property destruction.  This letter from New Hampshire on July 14th indicates the widespread effects and alarm raised by the riots.

Jay Lynwood This is being made for all the assholes who are trying to claim white Americans have never had riots out of anger. So here’s a list of my favorite American made riots. Enjoy! Black wall street, Chicago Race Riots, Greenwood, Knoxville, New York City Draft Riot, red summer, Rosewood Massacre, Tennessee Race Riots , The East St. Louis Massacre, Tulsa Oklahoma bombing, Washington D.C. Race Riots GREENWOOD, OKLA.: THE BLACK WALL STREET: In the early 1900s, African Americans settled in Oklahoma, seeking employment and other opportunities in the rich oil fields. Greenwood, part of Tulsa, became home to thriving black businesses – decades later earning it the moniker “Black Wall Street.” But in May 1921, Greenwood faced escalating racial unrest after a young white woman accused a black man of rape. The man wasn’t charged, but that didn’t stop a white mob from burning down Greenwood, the site of the worst race riot in U.S. history. ROSEWOOD, FLA.: A MASSACRE THAT WON’T BE FORGOTTEN: Rosewood, established in 1870, was the site of what could be considered one of the worst race riots in U.S. history. By 1915 it was a small, predominantly black town – with a population of just slightly more than 300. On New Year’s Day in 1923, a young white woman claimed that a black man sexually assaulted her; Rosewood was destroyed by a band of white men searching for the alleged suspect. The number of those killed is still unknown. THE East St. LOUIS MASSACRE: In 1917, Roving mobs rampaged through the city for a day and a night, burning the homes and businesses of African Americans, stopping street cars to pull their victims into the street, and assaulting and murdering men, women, and children who they happened to encounter. A memorial petition to the U.S. Congress, sent by a citizen committee from East St. Louis described it as “a very orgy of inhuman butchery during which more than fifty colored men, women and children were beaten with bludgeons, stoned, shot, drowned, hanged or burned to death—all without any effective interference on the part of the police, sheriff or military authorities.” In fact, estimates of the number of people killed ranged from 40 to more than 150. Six thousand people fled from their homes in the city, either out of fear for their lives or because mobs had burned their houses

The next person who claims only Black people riot is going to make me scream. Ferguson is not even close to the worst race related riots we have seen in this country. Before you start spouting bullshit claims, educate yourself on the following two events: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 and the New York City Draft Riots of 1863, not to mention the White people who flood into the streets after football and Hockey games and set the streets on fire. Ignorance may be bliss, but there is no excuse for it. Instead of using your time to post satire articles you think are real about President Obama being from Kenya, maybe you should do some actual research and learn some things. Seriously… Google those two riots right now and compare it to Ferguson.

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“Whereas there appears to be much opposition to the operations of the act of enrollment and such opposition seems likely to result in a demonstration which may endanger the safety of the property now occupied by the Provost Marshall’s Office, and the buildings adjoining, which are private property, and are likely to be destroyed or injured to a great extent in case of a disturbance,–

We the undersigned Citizens of Tarrytown do hereby respectfully suggest and ask the removal of said office and for the adoption of such other precautionary measures by the Provost Marshall, as shall tend to secure the safety and tranquility of all concerned.”

Petition from Citizens of Tarrytown to Captain Moses G. Leonard, 07/16/1863

From the series Letters Received (1863-1865) from the Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau

July 13th, marked the 150th anniversary of the New York City Draft Riots, violent protests against the Civil War draft that lasted four days and resulted in over 1,000 casualties and millions of dollars of property destruction.   Acts of vandalism and destruction were reported throughout the city as the riots spread.  The mobs initially targeted government buildings and representatives before focusing their violence towards the African-American community. 

via the National Archives at New York on Facebook

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Gangs of New York | Johnny Dombrowski | Upper Deck

The draft riots in 1863 marked the end of Bill the Butcher’s reign in the Five Points and New York. It was his city and Gangs of New York is his film. Though it’s the eyes of Amsterdam that look out for revenge, it’s that glass eye that stares back. My goal was to emote posters and election fliers from the 1800’s and coat them with as much red white and blue as I could. Likeness rights tend to be a bit tricky but fortunately, after a few stages, I was able to get an approval to have Daniel Day Lewis as the center of the image. A few touch ups here and there and the illustration was finished. It only made sense to destroy it for the variant. The Dead Rabbits just wouldn’t stand for it.

Available for Sale at Upper Deck. 24x36, Standard is an edition of 250, Variant is an edition of 100.

“Warned by the fearful riots in N.York. I hope this District will be well guarded…" 

Letter from Hoboken Mayor L.W. Elder to Provost Marshall E.N. Miller, 07/13/1863

July 13th, marks the 150th anniversary of the New York City Draft Riots, violent protests against the Civil War draft that lasted four days and resulted in over 1,000 casualties and millions of dollars of property destruction.   Acts of vandalism and destruction were reported throughout the city as the riots spread.  The mobs initially targeted government buildings and representatives before focusing their violence towards the African-American community. 

via the National Archives at New York on Facebook

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“…The Enrollment is complete except in one sub-district, located in the mining districts where the population consists mostly of Irish & under the excitement of the past week, it would have been indiscreet to have attempted to proceed – it shall be completed however as soon as possible…”

“…Precautionary measures have been taken by this board since the outbreak in New York.  To prevent similar recurrences in this district special Watchmen + scouts have been employed.  Scouts to bring information from the sections which seemed most turbulent + the Watchmen to gaurd [sic] the office Building, wherein the clothing is stored.  Threats have reached me that this Office together with Enrollment + clothing would be destroyed.  The danger seemed imminent and the utmost vigilance was required.”

Tri-monthly Reports from James Brown to Provost Marshal General James Fry, 07/20/1863

This report reflects the concern and issues raised a week following the  the New York City Draft Riots Violent protests against the Civil War draft, the riots lasted four days and resulted in over 1,000 casualties and millions of dollars of property destruction.   Acts of vandalism and destruction were reported throughout the city as the riots spread.  The mobs initially targeted government buildings and representatives before focusing their violence towards the African-American community. 

via the National Archives at New York on Facebook