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New York City Draft Riots by Irish Immigrants.


Boy M5

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I'm watching Ken Burns' the Civil War at present. It just highlighted an event I'd never heard of the 1863 NYC draft riots.

Lincoln introduced the draft for able bodied men up to age 44. However, if you were able to pay a fee you could avoid it and find a substitute.

On the day the List of the Dead of Gettysburg was posted in July 1863 the first draftees were similarly listed and posted in New York City.

A mainly Irish mob rioted and took over the East Side killing some Blacks (and whites including Irish who tried to defend them) They were fearful of the blacks as both groupings were competing for the same, lower paid, jobs and some Democratic politicians fomented dissent / fear mongered - freed blacks would supposedly flood the NYC labour market.

Eventually order was reinstated 3 days later - by units returning from Gettysburg


The New York City Draft Riots of 1863

New York City draft riots - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aplogies to McTell who I just spotted posted the wiki link on another thread (Irish at Fredericksburg)

http://www.politics.ie/forum/history/202359-day-irish-history-13-december-1862-irish-brigade-fredericksburg-3.html
 

owedtojoy

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Feb 27, 2010
Messages
45,449
I'm watching Ken Burns' the Civil War at present. It just highlighted an event I'd never heard of the 1863 NYC draft riots.

Lincoln introduced the draft for able bodied men up to age 44. However, if you were able to pay a fee you could avoid it and find a substitute.

On the day the List of the Dead of Gettysburg was posted in July 1863 the first draftees were similarly listed and posted in New York City.

A mainly Irish mob rioted and took over the East Side killing some Blacks (and whites including Irish who tried to defend them) They were fearful of the blacks as both groupings were competing for the same, lower paid, jobs and some Democratic politicians fomented dissent / fear mongered - freed blacks would supposedly flood the NYC labour market.

Eventually order was reinstated 3 days later - by units returning from Gettysburg


The New York City Draft Riots of 1863

New York City draft riots - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aplogies to McTell who I just spotted posted the wiki link on another thread (Irish at Fredericksburg)

http://www.politics.ie/forum/history/202359-day-irish-history-13-december-1862-irish-brigade-fredericksburg-3.html
I once wrote an article about these riots so went over most of the accounts.

My conclusion is that we mis-read this as primarily a race riot. That is projecting our own concerns back into the past. New York did not have a large black population and (at that point) there was not the major jobs rivalry that came later. There was strikebreaking, but more by invalided veterans than by blacks.

In fact, the riots were a revolt pure and simple against the Lincoln Government and all its works - blacks were attacked as beneficiaries of the Government, rather than in purely racial terms - though race did have its place in the ugly events, like the burning of an orphanage for black children, and the murder and castration of a black man.

However, army officers in uniform were also attacked, as were wealthy people (judged by their clothes) and the homes of journalists like Horace Greeley, who were Republican supporters.

The rioters were mainly Irish, and it began with the attack on a draft office by group of fire-fighters who claimed they should not be eligible to be drafted. These were not Irish, but on a day of protest against the draft, the demonstrations spilled over into overt lawlessness, looting and murder.

Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York is not an accurate historical account of the riots. This novel is very good, but also with some (minor) inaccuracies. It gives a flavour of life for the New York Irish in 1863.

Amazon.com: The Banished Children of EveA Novel of Civil War New York: Peter Quinn: Books

The New York draft riots of 1863: an Irish civil war? / Features / Issue 2 (Summer 2003) / Volume 11 / historyireland.com
 

Catalpast

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The wonder is there were not more Draft riots

Lincoln ruled with an Iron Hand
 

Boy M5

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In Burns' series the contemporary American tunes are used, in the past 10 minutes the Foggy Dew and Dear Old Donegal have been blasting out.

I wonder if these were tunes we got from the US or vice versa (travelled over with Scots Irish)?
 

owedtojoy

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The wonder is there were not more Draft riots

Lincoln ruled with an Iron Hand
There were other draft riots.

But your second statement is completely untrue.

Compared to the civil rights American had under Wilson, Roosevelt, under every Cold War President, and under George Bush II, Lincoln's administration ran the country with a relatively light touch.
 

blokesbloke

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This was all the fault of the British and their West Brit allies.
 

JohnD66

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Depicted with I don't-know-what degree of accuracy in Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York.

[video=youtube;x5kil3Pfkng]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5kil3Pfkng[/video]
 

owedtojoy

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Feb 27, 2010
Messages
45,449
Depicted with I don't-know-what degree of accuracy in Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York.

[video=youtube;x5kil3Pfkng]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5kil3Pfkng[/video]
The accuracy is very poor.

It depicts riots in the Five Points district, the "red light" area. In fact, that district was quiet during the riot.

It depicts soldiers' coffins being unloaded at the quays, filled with dead bodies, while other Irishmen enlist. That was stupid - bodies began to rot straightaway in the summer heat (this was July), and they were buried on the battlefield. The Union would not have wasted resources transporting dead bodies back to the North.

It depicted a gunboat firing at rioters. There was a gunboat in the harbour but it never fired a shot.

The history of the Irish "Dead Rabbits" gang was completely bastardised. Many of the "Dead Rabbits" joined the Union army after Fort Sumter, and it never suffered the defeat in street fighting depicted in the film.

There was no historical figure corresponding to the maniacal Bill the Butcher, played by Daniel Day Lewis in the film. There was a completely different criminal called Bill the Butcher, and they stole his name.

Worst of all, the riots was depicted as a gang fight between the Dead Rabbit and American nativists, which was about 10 years out of date.

Lastly, who on earth could take seriously an Irishman called "Amsterdam Vallon", as Leonardo di Caprio is called in the film.

You can enjoy Gangs of New York as fiction (I did!), but not as history.
 
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