New York Draft Riots "Four Days Of Terror" July 13-16, 1863
"Willing to fight for Uncle Sam", but not "for Uncle Sambo", said one Pennsylvania newspaper. First Lincoln freed the slaves and now he was conscripting Northern men into the army and forcing them to fight and die to make his proclamation a reality. Thus reasoned many white workers in the North who were concerned about free blacks competing for their jobs. The unfair draft laws caused deep resentment throughout the North, and in the summer of 1863 protests and outbreaks of violence were common in virtually every Northern state. Secret societies were formed to organize resistance to the draft, and draft officers were assaulted.
Nowhere was opposition to the draft more vocal than in New York, where Lincoln was despised by the hard-line members of the Democratic party, who were openly critical of the administration's policies. The working-class Irish in New York City were particularly resentful of the draft policies that allowed the wealthy to buy their way out the draft, and they were hostile toward blacks, some of whom had recently been used to replace striking Irish longshoremen.
On Monday morning, July 13, 1863, the draft office at 3rd Ave. and 46th Street was resuming the drawing of names of draftees from the lottery wheel when a mob of men armed with clubs arrived and burned the place down. The burning of the draft office was the beginning of a four-day spree of looting, burning, and murder that singled out the city's black population as the scapegoat for the country's ills. The mob of rioters burned and pillaged their way down 3rd Ave. en route to an armory at 2nd and 21st, where they swarmed inside and started grabbing the 1,000 rifles stored there. At the same time another mob was over at 5th Ave. and 43rd Street, attacking an orphanage where 237 black children under the age of 12 lived.
Fascinating Fact: Frenzied rioters attacked all blacks they encountered. Families were chased down and killed; helpless blacks were lynched. A Mohawk Indian was beaten to death because the mob believed he was black.
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