New York City Draft Riots of 1863

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New York City Draft Riots of 1863

In September of 1862, President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation. This was to take effect on January 1, 1863; this document was what freed the slaves in states that were still in rebellion with the Union. At the time the Emancipation Proclamation was not what New Yorkers wanted to see embraced. In March of 1863, a form of a stricter draft law was formed. The law required all male citizens between twenty and thirty-five and all unmarried men between thirty-five and forty-five years of age were required to join the military. A system was set up by the federal government that entered all the eligible men into a lottery. But there were ways of getting out of the lottery pick, either you could pay a fee of three hundred dollars which was an extremely large amount at that time, or you could pay a substitute to take your place. Blacks, who were not considered citizens, were exempt from the draft.

A month after the lottery system had been set up for selecting eligible men, an antiwar newspaper article was published on the draft law. The newspaper editors criticized the federal government for targeting the white working class. This enraged the white working class; they started comparing their value to the southern slaves saying that they were being sold for only three hundred dollars. The white working class started to believe that there economic status was declining while the blacks appeared to be gaining in power. That is what sent the white working class over the edge. Then on a Saturday, July 11, 1863 the first conscription law was held. Then on July 13, the Civil War Draft Riots began, the five days of mayhem and bloodshed began.

At first the rioters targeted the military and buildings that the government had control of only because they thought they were extremely unfair with how they were holding the drafts. But the riot only began with the burning of a draft office....
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