Irish Immigrants and the New York Draft Riots of 1863

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The New York Draft Riots of 1863 In the summer of 1863 New York experienced one of the most violent protests in the American history. The riots were mainly in reaction to the Union draft for the Civil War, which Abraham Lincoln enacted when volunteers began to run out. The riots lasted for five days, and the mob consisted of almost 50,000 angry men who opposed to the Civil War, draft and Emancipation Proclamation. This paper will discuss how the Irish immigrants in New York affected the draft riots of 1863, and the reason behind their participation, exploring specifically the social, class and racial issues the Irish immigrants faced. The United States saw an influx of Irish immigrants due to the Great Famine (potatoes) in Ireland.…show more content…
An article in the Journal of Negro History explains the opposition to the draft perfectly, “it seemed that the act bore especially heavily upon the poor…and it would force white workers to fight to free the slaves who would soon become rivals for employment.” This caused Irish to attack specifically the military forces, the wealthy, and the blacks in New York. The riots lasted for five days, beginning on July 13 until July 17 when Lincoln had to send extra police and regiments of soldiers from Pennsylvania to bring the mobs under control. McPherson describes, on the first day of the riot, “mobs of Irish workers roamed the streets, burned the draft office, sack and burned the homes of prominent Republicans and tried to unsuccessfully demolish the New York Tribune building.” As time went on the riots got worse, by the end of the first day they were attaching any black people on the street, anyone who tried to calm them and even white employers who hired black workers. As the mob moved through the city, intensifying their actions, they burned down the Colored Orphan Asylum. One account stated that,
“the children numbering 233, were quietly seated in their school rooms… when an infuriated mob, consisting of several thousand men, women and children armed with clubs, brick bats etc. advanced upon the Institution. The crowd took as much of the bedding,
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