draft riots

draft riots,

in the American Civil War, mob action to protest unfair Union conscription. The Union Conscription Act of Mar. 3, 1863, provided that all able-bodied males between the ages of 20 and 45 were liable to military service, but a drafted man who furnished an acceptable substitute or paid the government $300 was excused. A defective piece of legislation enforced amid great unpopularity, it provoked nationwide disturbances that were most serious in New York City, where for four days (July 13–16, 1863) there occurred large-scale, bloody riots. Many elements in New York sympathized with the South, and the war had aggravated long-standing economic and social grievances. Aroused by the statements of Gov. Horatio SeymourSeymour, Horatio
, 1810–86, American politician, b. Pompey Hill, N.Y. He studied law at Utica, N.Y. and was admitted to the bar in 1832. A Democrat, he was military secretary to Gov. William L.
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 and other Democratic leaders that the conscription act was unconstitutional, the populace was incited to action. Laborers, mostly Irish-Americans, made up the bulk of a tremendous mob that overpowered the police and militia, attacked and seized the Second Ave. armory containing rifles and guns, and set fire to buildings. Abolitionists and blacks were especially singled out for attack. Many blacks were beaten to death, and a black orphanage was burned, leaving hundreds of children homeless. Business ceased, and robbing and looting flourished. Since the conscription provision that allowed the rich to buy exemption was especially resented, the Tammany city government voted to pay the necessary $300 for anyone who might be drafted. Meanwhile, New York troops (including the famous 7th Regiment, which had been sent to the front for the Gettysburg campaign) were rushed back, and with the aid of the police, militia, naval forces, and cadets from West Point, they succeeded in restoring order. President Lincoln supported a Democratic-dominated commission that investigated the draft in New York, while Gov. Seymour urged both adherence to the conscription act and a court test of its constitutionality (which never came about). In August the draft was peacefully resumed. The privilege of buying one's way out of service was limited (1864) to conscientious objectors. The riots had inflicted property damage of $1.5 million to $2 million, and it has been estimated that total casualties ran as high as 1,000.


See B. L. Lee, Discontent in New York City, 1861–1865 (1943); I. Werstein, July, 1863 (1957, repr. 1971); J. McCague, Second Rebellion: The Story of the New York City Draft Riots (1968); A. Cook, The Armies of the Streets (1974); I. Bernstein, The New York City Draft Riots (1989).

References in periodicals archive ?
The report also mentioned about homicide cases in the year of 1863 when NYC was plagued by the Draft Riots which were aimed at the then-new Civil War drafting laws.
Under the guidance of Monroe, Owen and a group of other teenagers go into a memory they all share within their DNA: the 1863 Draft Riots in New York City.
He argues that the draft riots had their source in Democratic Party politics, not trade unionism, pointing out that many ethnic trade unions had denounced slavery and secession.
The same was true for the Draft Riots of 1863, which heavily influenced the political and social views of Nast.
In her reading of Dickinson's "Color--Caste--Denomination," for example, Barrett introduces the Irish draft riots, the death of Colonel Shaw of Massachusetts, and the ethnic "counting" behind draft quotas as a grim context for Dickinson's wordplay.
In fact, at 53 dead it was the deadliest riot in America since the so-called New York Draft riots of 1863, during the Civil War, when between 100 and 200 died and when thousands of Irish immigrants, loyal to the Democratic Party, ran wild, lynching free blacks and burning down the black children's orphanage, beating the children with sticks and stones.
2) The mob was part of several days of explosive violence that came to be known as the New York City Draft Riots.
Exploring conflict in many and varied forms, from Indian wars, to colonial take-overs, to draft riots and 9/11, the work discusses the unique character of New York and the actions and perspectives of its citizens in times of conflict.
The poem's apparent criticism of the rioters--"rats" who engage in "Arson"--and its "Hail" to "Wise Draco," who "redeems" the city and earns its "thanks," have led a number of readers to conclude, as Iver Bernstein does, that Melville "celebrated the military suppression of the draft riots as a simple victory for the forces of order" (71).
Fueled by anger over the first federal conscription act and hardships caused by the Civil War, the Draft Riots brought days of rioting, looting and arson.
Following the news that only $300 could buy your way out of President Lincoln's conscription draft, there was a horrific four-day bloodbath in 1863 called the Draft Riots, the worst in New York's history.
The New York City Draft Riots: Their significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War tells the story of the New York City draft riots, following their participants and their underlying importance to the overall social concerns of the times.

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