Causes of the 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...
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