Thursday, September 26, 2013



From Lincoln in Caricature (1903) by Rufus Rockwell Wilson  --  The cartoon, “Rowdy” Notions of Emancipation appeared in London Punch on August 8, 1863, prompted by the Draft Riots which in the previous month dismayed and disgraced America’s chief city.

At the left of the cartoon Mr. Lincoln stands with folded arms gazing gloomily into space while in the foreground white ruffians assail unoffending Negroes and beat or stamp them into insensibility. All of which failed to place where it properly belonged the blame for a wanton and tragic breach of law and order. A federal draft law which went into effect on July 1, 1863, unwisely exempted from its operation all who should pay into the federal treasury the sum of $300. The discontent, thus produced was fomented in New York City by pothouse politicians, who declared the draft unconstitutional, and that it bore with unjust severity on the poor man.

Many vowed resistance and, borrowing courage from the fact that the city, to repel Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania, had been practically denuded of troops, made plans to attack the drafting officers. No trouble occurred on the first day of the draft, July 11, but on the second, Monday, July 13, an organized mob attacked and wrecked the provost marshal’s office at the corner of Third Avenue and Forty-sixth Street. Then inspired by animosity towards the Negro race, the rioters raided a colored orphan asylum in Fifth Avenue above Forty-third Street and burned it to the ground.

A cry now went up to kill the police, and soon 500 rioters were marching down Broadway bent upon the destruction of police headquarters in Mulberry Street, but 100 policemen, ably led, barred their advance and a short and decisive fight cleared Broadway, except the rioters who with shattered pates strewed the pavement. Routed at one point, however, the mob rallied at another, and a few hours later, under cover of darkness, a determined attempt was made to sack and burn the office of the Tribune in Park Row. Again the police drove the rioters from the field with a heavy loss in killed and wounded; but it was now clear that the police force was too few in numbers to restore order, and all of the New York regiments were ordered to repair to the city.

During Tuesday and Wednesday, July 14 and 15, the mob continued to fire and loot property, and to maltreat and murder Negroes, but on the evening of the latter day the returning regiments began to arrive in the city. Bullets and bayonets now took the place of policemen’s clubs, and on Friday, July 17, the mayor was able to announce the complete restoration of order. It became clear ere long that a lamentable affair had been mainly due to the timidity and hesitation of Horatio Seymour, the Democratic governor of New York, who sought to conciliate instead of sternly suppressing the rioters, and so permitted them to get out of bounds. When Seymour sought reelection as governor in 1864 he was beaten by a decisive majority.  (source:  Lincoln in Caricature (1903) by Rufus Rockwell Wilson)

1 comment:

  1. Just happened to come across your blog - thank you!



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