The Draft and Draft Riots in New York during the Civil War. The latter battle, which became known as the New York Draft Riots, was not a fight between Union and Confederate troops, however. . Nonetheless, two years later … By the start of the Civil War in April 1861, New York City, New York Mayor Fernando Wood called for the city to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy, but the response from most New Yorkers was unenthusiastic. In July of 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, Americans were fighting on battlefields across the country—Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and New York City. The authorities responded with police and army forces to quell the riots. New York City Draft Riots (July 11-13, 1863) "The nation is at this time in a state of Revolution, North, South, East, and West," wrote the Washington Times during the often violent protests that occurred after Abraham Lincoln issued the March 3, 1863, Enrollment Act of Conscription. From July 13 to July 17, 1863, mobs of mostly Irish-born rioters in Manhattan vented their opposition to being … The draft riots in July, 1863 illustrate how racial, social and economic differences came to a head in New York City. In July 1863, about 1,200 to 1,500 men, mostly Irish dockworkers, rioted against the Civil War draft in New York City in a four-day upheaval, targeting black workers and citizens. The Civil War and the rise of the Republican Party and Lincoln to power indicated to New York's largely Democratic white workers a reversal of power in the nation; black labor competition indicated a reversal of fortunes in New York City itself. By Monday, July 13, Manhattan was in turmoil; and on Tuesday and Wednesday, violence and rioting were severe. Implementation of the draft began in New York on Saturday, July 11, 1863. The New York City Draft Riots remain today the single largest urban civilian insurrection in United States history. Finally, and most simply, white workers asserted their superiority over blacks through the riots. Lasting nearly a week, the riots were the largest civil insurrection in U.S. history besides the Civil War itself. Further reading: T. Anbinder, Five Points (New York, 2001). M ost people who are passingly familiar with the Civil War or who have seen the film Gangs of New York likely know that Irish immigrants were the chief culprits in one of the most infamous incidents in that conflict: the New York City Draft Riots. Toby Joyce is an engineer with a lifelong interest in the history of nineteenth-century Irish-America. For four days, from 13-16 July 1863, the New York City draft riots raged in the city’s streets. On this anniversary of the New York City Draft Riots and Massacre, July 13 – 16, 1863, we share a teaching activity that helps students explore what Howard Zinn described as the most destructive period of civil violence in U.S. history. 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