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Narrative - Essay Example

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The New York drafts riots also known as draft riots at that time, were a horrific episode, a three day string of violence that occurred from July 13th to July 16th in 1963 (Civil War Society). The violent disturbances were a consummation of discontent of the enactment of the…
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New York Draft Riots The New York drafts riots also known as draft riots at that time, were a horrific episode, a three day string of violence that occurred from July 13th to July 16th in 1963 (Civil War Society). The violent disturbances were a consummation of discontent of the enactment of the Enrollment Act (Civil War Society) in March 1963 by the American States Congress during the American Civil War. The controversial act legalized enrollment into the army of males in the age group of twenty to forty five years compulsory, including immigrants who had filed for citizenship. Federal agents had introduced regulations that required every constitutional district to provide a given number of men to join the federal government troops. Although we had skirmishes in other parts, the New York unrests were the most publicized due to the magnitude of the protests. The rioters were overwhelmingly working class men, angered by the selective application of the draft because wealthy men could pay a $300 communication fee to exclude them from its reach (Civil War Society).
Initially, the riots stemmed from an expression of anger at the law but later degraded into virtual racial pogrom. Blacks turned out to be the fall guys and the primary target of the protesters. Immigrants and the poor were for the opinion that the freed slaves (blacks) posed a threat to the already crowded job market. The rioters considered the blacks as the cause of the civil war and those who were unfortunate to come into contact with the rioters, faced the risk of encountering a harsh beating, torture and /or death. According to the Civil War Society, group of 400 rioters cornered a black man and stoned, whipped and hanged him on a tree before setting a blaze on him. In another incident, the police intervened early enough to prevent children in an orphanage from an attack by the marauding crowd.
According to the Civil War Society, the conditions in the city were disastrous such that Major General John E. Wool, proposed imposition of martial law though he did not have the power to enforce it. Having sent its militia to assist the Union troops in Pennsylvania, New York remained with the police as the only law enforcement agents. Following the unrests, Police Superintendent John Alexander Kennedy came to assess the situation while in civilian clothes. Unfortunately, the crowd noticed him and immediately attacked him living the Police Superintendent to be seriously wounded and nearly unconscious. In response to that incident, the police came angered like wounded lions, to combat the crowds. Armed with clubs and revolvers, they came to avenge the attack of their senior, but the crowds outnumbered them. They had to retreat although they managed to shield the Union Square in Lower Manhattan from the angry mob. However, the residents’ of seaport region mainly immigrants, avoided the draft riots. In the violence that ensued on the first day of the riots, Bull’s Hotel on 44th street was burnt down for allegedly refusing to provide alcohol. The Mayor’s residence on Fifth Street, the Eighth and Fifth police stations and some other buildings encountered a similar fate. Heavy rains poured down during the night of the first day of the attacks sending most of the rioters’ home and assisting to abate the fires.
However, the crowds returned the following day halting commerce in the city. On that day, the rioters rounded homes of Republicans including that of activist Abby H. Gibbons among others. Governor Horiator Seymour a former Democratic Party candidate, who had previously lost the election to a Republican candidate, tried to assuage the crowds at City Hall by terming the Act unconstitutional (Civil War Society).
General John E. Wool ordered the militia in the union army to return to New York. He also managed to bring 800 troops from forts in the New York Harbor and West Point. On the third day, the situation started to normalize when Brigadier General Robert Nugent, received word from his superior Colonel James Fry to suspend the draft. When the news appeared in the newspapers, some rioters stayed at home while the militia who had returned from the war used harsh measures to control the remaining crowds. The restoration of order allowed Archbishop Hughes to address a peaceful rally at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The final confrontation occurred near Gramercy Park on Thursday evening. The skirmishes that erupted during the confrontation between the police, army and the crowds; led to the death of twelve people including two soldiers, one African–American woman, two women and a bystander. According to the Civil War Society, close to 2000 people died while 8000 people picked injuries of various degrees and destruction of property worth $1-5$ million occurred.
Works Cited
Civil War Society. The Civil War Society’s Encyclopedia of Civil War. Florida: Wings Books, 1997.Print. Read More
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