The New York Draft Riots

Did you know that the biggest riots in this nation’s history took place in New York City to protest the Draft then taking place for compulsory military service in the 1861-1865 war? This is one story that the mass media and government schools virtually never tell us about. But we will be telling you about it today.

To begin, it is important that we understand that the 1861-1865 war in America — the war that was so carefully promoted, nurtured and developed — was not a civil war. Lincoln started the war without a declaration of Congress, a gross violation of the Constitution. It was an economic war, just as were all our wars since the War of 1812 [Gordon comments: this was the last war ever fought in the true sovereign interests of the United States]. The dominant financial powers of the day, having gained monetary, media and political dominance over the Northeastern states, sought to use the resources of those states (including the people) to expand their power over the others.

In the South, the local autonomy of smaller jurisdictions, such as those of county and state governments (commonplace in a healthy Constitutional Republic), was obstructing the interests of these large financial powers. Thus, a plan was contrived to absorb these smaller jurisdictions into one large jurisdiction which was easier to infiltrate manipulate and control. Indeed, by consolidating all this power within the federal government, these major financial interests could more effectively plunder the people. However, these wealthy Southern states would not yield without a fight.

Therefore, it was necessary to have a war. Thus, it was a war between states, or ‘War Between The States.’ Volumes have been written about the causes of this war, much of it credible; and so we will refer you to those for further information on this point.

New York, the greatest port in this nation, was the gathering place for those newly immigrated. In 1863, the third year of the War, half of the city’s population was foreign born, and of that number, half were Irish. And, naturally, when you have peoples of different cultures packed into such a small place, you have competing interests, which oftentimes resulted in riots. In the 1830’s and 1840’s, for instance, there were the Bread Riots, the Anti-Immigration Riots, election riots, etc. And the Irish too, were no strangers to rioting. In fact, ‘Irish Confetti’ was the term for cobblestones the Irishmen would throw off rooftops onto the streets.

New York, a city run by Democrats, did not favor going to war, if only for economic reasons. Indeed, with about half of the South’s exports going through New York, Mayor Fernando Wood even suggested seceding from the union to protect this trade.

In 1862, with the war going badly for Mr. Lincoln, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation so as to destroy the economic foundation of the South.

Only slaves in Southern states were allegedly freed, excepting about a million in sympathetic Southern states. Mrs. Lincoln’s slaves also were not freed. Many Irish objected to this Executive Order, because they believed the result would be a flood of Blacks into New York to take their jobs. Remember, for the New York Irishmen, jobs were hard to come by, due to discrimination. For hire signs typically stated, ‘Irish need not apply.’

But the fact remained: Lincoln’s army needed bodies. Soldiers were deserting the Union Army in droves. Many joined the Southern Army. Lincoln was so desperate, that he sent his agents to Germany and enlisted 200,000 Germans who could not speak a word of English and had no idea what the war was all about.

To meet their enlistment quotas, Lincoln imposed on the states, many states offered bonuses of hundreds of dollars to those who would enlist. But after awhile, even money could not entice them to join.

On March 5, 1863, Congress, though it could not convene with a quorum, passed the Conscription Act (draft). However, any draftee could be exempted if he paid $300 to the government; or hired a paid substitute. $300 was more than the average worker in New York made in a year; so the Irishmen, who could barely afford to feed their families, were compelled to go south and fight Confederates. Governor Horatio Seymour, assuring the draftees, said that the draft was unconstitutional, and would surely be challenged in the courts. But there wasn’t time for this.

When the first lottery took place on Saturday, July 11, 1863, Lincoln, anticipating problems, was going to send federal troops to New York to keep order, but changed his mind when Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee broke through Union lines into Pennsylvania, headed for Harrisburg. From Harrisburg, it would be a short trip south to Washington D.C.; and so the federal troops were sent to counter Lee instead.

On that Saturday, with much lively discussion of the draft taking place in the taverns frequented by Irishmen, a rally was planned that night at Central Park. Among those at the rally were Irish firemen who demanded exemptions from the draft, as was the custom of Militiamen of years past. When the lottery resumed on Monday however, several Irish firemen were drafted anyway. These volunteer firemen also knew how to set fires, it seems, as was evidenced by their torching the draft offices. Within minutes, the entire block was on fire. Throughout New York, dozens of buildings were set on fire that Monday.

Upon receiving reports of the incident, New York Police Superintendent John Kennedy headed uptown to visit the scene. When stepping from his carriage, he was grabbed and beaten so severely, that he was left for dead. Police Commissioner Thomas Acton then took the lead over his 800 men on duty to fend off a mob that ultimately numbered about 50,000 people. Acton struck back on the rioters ruthlessly.

Building to its crescendo, the rioters then began to tear up railroad tracks, telegraph lines, and the homes and businesses of republicans (including the New York Tribune, a newspaper with Republican sympathies); and began not only to assail policemen, but even gentlemen and Blacks.

Finally, federal troops, under the command of Henry O’Brien arrived, shooting many dozen civilians. O’Brien, later spotted by a crowd, was beaten to death and dragged through the streets.

Rioting became even more intense on Tuesday. In his efforts to calm the mobs, from the steps of city hall that noon, Governor Seymour told the crowd: ‘My friends, I am sent my adjutant general to Washington to confer with authorities there, and have this draft suspended. I will do all that I can, to see that there is no inequality and no wrong done to anyone.’ This speech did not sit well with the Republicans and Lincoln. However, Lincoln resisted declaring martial law for fear it might inflame the situation; and left it up to local authorities to handle the problem.

On Wednesday, the city’s Board of Aldermen and Common Counsel passed an emergency ordinance appropriating 2.5 million dollars to pay the exemptions of every worker who was drafted.

That Wednesday afternoon, a crowd of 10,000, gathering in the vicinity of Gramercy Park and Stuyevesant Square, and were met by a small federal army detachment and artillery unit, commanded by Edward Gardine. However, when the civilian snipers cut his troops to pieces, the soldiers fled, leaving Gardine and the other dead and wounded, behind.

The riots were finally quelled on Friday. Many attribute this to the address of Catholic Archbishop John Hughs, to the rioters from the balcony of his home on Madison Avenue. His Excellency said that there was no need to conduct a revolution in the streets of New York because there was a revolution at the ballot box every four years. And so ended the Draft Riots of New York.

The official death toll was 119, but it was surely in the thousands. One of the more astonishing things was the numbers of bodies found floating in New York’s rivers. Nevertheless, Lincoln was still determined for the draft to proceed. Needing more bodies, he ordered the draft to proceed in New York, unabated; but this time, with large numbers of federal troops. There were no riots this time. Few draftees had to go, however. They were merely replaced by substitutes paid for by the Common Counsel’s 2.5 billion dollar appropriation. Of the 80,000 draftees, only 2,300 ended up in Lincoln’s army. The rest hired substitutes, paid their exemption fees, or got medical excuses.

Now let us turn our attention to how what we have been taught by the mass media and government schools contrasts with the truth. We have been told to believe that Abraham Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents and the ‘Great Emancipator.’ Saying anything to the contrary is deemed blasphemy by the politically correct. However, facts are stubborn things, be they ‘blasphemous’ or not. The fact is, Lincoln was a bigot and racist, as the following quotes demonstrate:

‘I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to inter-marry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.’

Then we have Lincoln’s Notes for Speeches, September 1859, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 399:

‘Negro equality! Fudge! How long, in the government of a God great enough to make and maintain the Universe, shall there continue knaves to vend, and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagoguism as this?’

>From Abraham Lincoln’s Address on Colonization to a Deputation of Negroes in Washington , D.C. on August 14, 1862 (Collected Works, Vol. V, p. 371) we have:

‘See our present condition — the country engaged in war! — our White men cutting one another’s throats … and then consider what we know to be truth. * * * But for your race among us there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other … It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. * * * You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffers from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.’

I bet you never heard those quotes from Lincoln last President’s Day.

So, in this article, we have seen that Lincoln was not able to ‘fool all the people all the time’ in his day, hence all the riots, from Ohio to Massachusetts. The fact is, right or wrong, many people did not want to participate in what they viewed as an unjust war.