New York City Draft Riot (1863)
The Draft Riot of 1863 was a four-day eruption of violence in New York City during the Civil War stemming from deep worker discontent with the inequities of the first federally mandated conscription laws.
In addition, the white working class feared that emancipation of enslaved Blacks would cause an influx of African-American workers from the South. In many instances, employers used Black workers as strike-breakers during this period. Thus, the white rioters eventually turned their wrath on the homes and businesses of innocent African-Americans and anything else symbolic of their growing political, economic and social power.
On July 13, 1863, organized opposition broke out across the city. The protests soon morphed into a violent uprising against the city’s wealthy elite and its African-American residents.
The four-day draft riot was finally quelled by police cooperating with the 7th New York Regiment. Estimates vary greatly on the number of people killed, though most historians believe around 115 people lost their lives, including nearly a dozen Black men who were lynched after they were brutally beaten. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed causing millions of dollars in damage. Up to 50 of the damaged buildings had been burned to the ground by rioters, including the Colored Orphan Asylum, which housed more than 230 Black children.