The same mindset counseled sympathetic understanding for labor's rabid anti-Asian racism in the West in the late Nineteenth Century, and tolerated the New York draft riot
of 1863, anti-feminist and anti-abortion activism, and whites' anti-busing riots.
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.
In language that could as easily be applied to the New York draft riots
, Thucydides writes that "human nature, always ready to offend even where laws exist, showed itself proudly in its true colours, as something incapable of controlling passion, insubordinate to the idea of justice, the enemy of anything superior to itself" (111.
The New York draft riots
were initially the work of skilled as well as unskilled workers, Irish and non-Irish alike, but quickly became an uprising of unskilled Irish laborers; they exemplified the degree to which Irish men and women had come to regard the war with disdain and the draft with undying hatred.
A few examples are the New York Draft Riots
of 1863, the rise of a new industrial and urban economy in which New York City played a central role, the dominance of New York politicians as Democratic Party candidates throughout Reconstruction, and the city's support of public funding for Catholic schools that called forth a Republican reaction on both national and local levels.
Although sparked by the Union military draft, the predominantly Irish immigrant participants in New York draft riots
(called "the devil's own work" by poet Walt Whitman) quickly turned much of their wrath upon the city's African American population, but to call the affair simply a race riot would perhaps over-simplify the political, ethnic, class, and other social conflicts that played out in the riots and their aftermath.
Ric Burns, New York: A Documentary Film: Order and Disorder: Episode Two (PBS Home Video, 2001), as quoted in Alex Blankfein, The Causes and Effects of the New York Draft Riots
Jim is thereby launched on a performance career that features, among many other events, dance contests against whites such as Jack Diamond (who was indeed Juba's sparring partner), run-ins with white mobs upset by the excellence of Jim's dancing and his refusal to wear blackface make-up, secret meetings with slaves to discuss abolitionist ideas and with Juba himself, a harrowing encounter with the 1863 New York Draft Riots
, and, after manumission, a long stint with a women-led mixed-race minstrel troupe known as the Featherstone Traveling Theatre.