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New York City Draft Riots Of 1863

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The New York City draft riots of 1863 were the cause of a particular feeling among blacks that were recently freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Since, at the time, blacks were not considered citizens the lottery that was the draft itself did not include those that were not citizens. Btu since the blacks were free but not citizens then they were the spark of much hatred that was aroused by certain factors, particularly from the Irish and German immigrants. The press, fueled part of this hatred of the white community when they published ideas that were biased and led to more recognition on how the emancipation would be the end of the line for an immigrant making decent pay or wanting to stay home from the war.

The Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 topped off the work of the supporters of the emancipation that were primarily from New York City. Republicans tried to stop abolitionists from holding ground in high levels of politics in New York especially with the antislavery politics that rang through the city during the beginning of the war, but by that time the abolitionists had prevailed and spoke to large hordes of people both black and white on the current situation among the city's population. With the abolitionist's success in the city and their attempt to educate the people, there was also the counterpart of the white proslavery members, which mainly included the large number of immigrants from Ireland. With Lincoln speaking highly of the emancipation, the Democratic Party and their proslavery members had to watch out for the emancipation when it hit their city. When the emancipation hit the city it caused labor competition among the immigrants and the blacks, especially the blacks that were fleeing up from the southern states. The immigrant New Yorkers, as they had come to be known, had realized that with the emancipation in 1863 their fears had become a reality since the blacks were now free to flee north and settle in their city of New York. But not only with the emancipation did the white proslavery members worry; it was also with a new draft law that was being passed. "All male citizens between twenty and thirty-five and all unmarried men between thirty-five and forty-five years of age were subject to military duty... all eligible men into a lottery. Those who could afford to hire a substitute or pay the government three hundred dollars might avoid enlistment. Blacks, who were not considered citizens, were exempt from the draft" (Harris 281). This helped fuel the outrage and helped to start the series of violent attack that were lead by proslavery white men in NYC during the 1863 draft. On Saturday, July 11, 1863, the first lottery was drawn and the city went into a state of rest and depression to be only short lived since it lasted just a day. And on the following Monday, July 13, 1863, between 6 and 7 A.M., the five days of chaos that came to be known as the Civil War Draft Riots, commenced.

The rioters started with attacks on things that basically represented the unfairness of the draft and lottery itself. So therefore they initially started with government buildings or such things that represented authority that forced them into the war. But it did not take long for them to realize the other unfairness of the draft and the loophole which was the black community. Around noon on that first Monday there began attacks on the black community. The first of the attacks was said to be on a black fruit vendor in the city who was said to have been with a nine year old boy, also black, near Broadway Street. But the greatest and probably the largest attack was on the Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue between Forty-Third and Forty-Fourth Streets. "By the spring of 1863, the managers had built a home large enough to house over two hundred children. Financially stable and well-stocked with food, clothing, and other provisions, the four-story orphanage at its location on Fifth Avenue and Forty-Second Street was an imposing symbol of white charity toward blacks and black upward mobility" (283). At 4 P.M. on July 13, a mob of many thousands of people entered the building, ransacked the entire place, stole what they could and then set fire to the building with some people still inside. It took no more than twenty minutes for the mob to get in, get what they needed, get out and for the place to burn to the ground.,

But amidst the chaos that took over the city and the vast white majority of the people, some where able to look past the race and try to lend a hand to those in need. An Irish man spoke out for some of the children that had to flee the institution. But the mob was so out of control that they even sent their wrath upon him for sympathizing for the blacks. But that Irish man wasn't the only white person that infuriated the mob. In this time of the riots white rioters also attack man black supporters at the time and often killed women married to those men that were black. They attacked white sympathizers such as Ann Derrickson and Ann Martin, two women who were married to black men; and Mary Burke, a white prostitute who catered to black men.

Not only within the city, but near the shore, there were even greater battles taking place. In March of 1863, white employers hired blacks as longshoremen, but since the Irish were ignorant at the time they refused to work with the black men and therefore this lead to a battle that was eventually boiled over by the riots that were taking place. Over two hundred black docks men were attacked and battled with and other white men that were in search of the black longshoremen were sent inland, into the city to find more blacks to devour. Btu that was not enough for the white men since they wanted to erase any existence of the black man in their community by the docks. So they took to the bars and any other buildings that catered to the blacks and ransacked those just as the mob did in the black asylum and burned most of them to the ground.

Black men and women were attacked all the same but the mob seemed to take more interest in the involvement of the black men in the community. In such instances a man by the name of William Jones was hanged from a lamppost near the docks in front of a crowd of people and then his body was burned. But he was not the only one hanged since the mob also hanged Abraham Franklin after he was dragged from his house. In Abraham's case there was a crowd of men women and children, the entire white race, cheering for the mercilessness to continue on a stage and they all applauded when the job was done. They also cried out in the streets, "vengeance on every nigger in New York."

The Longshoreman's Association, a white labor union, kept control of the piers as they were given specific licenses that allowed for them to remove any black man from the docks or from any other place that



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