New York Draft Riots Facts

New York Draft Riots Facts
With the Civil War dragging on and losing support in the north in early 1863, Congress passed the Enrollment Act on March 3, 1863, which required all male citizens and immigrants who had applied for citizenship between the ages of twenty and forty-five to enroll in the army. It was essentially a draft. The act was met with protest in many places throughout the north and became a flashpoint for class and race struggle. When the act was finally put into practice in July 1863 it was met with protests and violence in several cities, most notably Manhattan in New York. Many of Manhattan's working class men rejected the idea of the draft because wealthier citizens were allowed to pay a $300 fee for a replacement, while the poor were forced to fight. The primarily Irish and German immigrants were also often opposed to the war in the first place, seeing it as a fight on behalf of blacks, whom they viewed with suspicion and hatred due to having to compete with them for work. Also, the population of Manhattan was primarily affiliated with the Democrat Party, which for the most part opposed the war and President Lincoln.
Interesting New York Draft Riots Facts:
The riots began on Monday July 13, two days after the draft began in Manhattan.
A volunteer fire company started the violence by attacking a draft board office with bricks and cutting telegraph lines.
Early targets on the first day of the riot were primarily political - the mayor's residence was burned along with several police stations and draft board offices - but by the afternoon and evening the mob began attacking random black residents.
Several thousand rioters descended on the Colored Orphan Asylum at the corner of 43rd Street and Fifth Avenue late in the afternoon on July 13. The police were able to evacuate the children residents before the rioters looted the building and burned it to the ground.
Newspapers sympathetic to President Lincoln and the Republican Party, such as the Tribune, were attacked.
Due to heavy rains, the rioting was subdued on the second day, although there were numerous acts of violence directed against individual blacks and whites believed to have been sympathetic to them.
On the third day it was announced that the draft was suspended, which placated many of the rioters, although violence continued through Thursday.
Many women were among the rioters, especially during the first day.
About 120 people were killed in the violence, most of them black.
The rioters caused up to $5 million in damages, which would be about $99 million today when adjusted for inflation.
Some media outlets blamed the violence on Copperhead propaganda.
Irish, German, and native American street gangs were also blamed for fomenting much of the violence.
Rioting lasted until July 16 when several units from the New York state militia and the Union Army took control of the streets.
As a result of the violence it encountered during the riots, a large percentage of the black community relocated to Brooklyn.
The 2002 fictional film, The Gangs of New York, chronicles many of the issues leading to the Draft Riots, with the last scene of the movie taking place during the riots.


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