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The worst episode of large-scale urban violence in American history, the New York City draft riots were sparked by the passage of conscription laws which made thousands of male New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 45 eligible to be drafted into the Union Army. Poor and working-class New Yorkers, many of them Irish immigrants, were especially…

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Item Type: Article/Essay
Date: 2005

This account, originally published as a series of articles for the New York Times, details the activities of police in the 6th precinct during the 1863 Draft Riots. The 6th precinct was in the northern part of the 6th Ward, home of New York's "Five Points" neighborhood.

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Item Type: Book (excerpt)
Date: 1863

In this activity students examine sheet music and letters from draft rioters to examine Union attitudes about the military draft during the Civil War.

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Item Type: Teaching Activity
Date: 2008

In this cartoon from the weekly satirical magazine Vanity Fair, an Irish longshoreman tells a black worker seeking employment on New York's waterfront: "Well, ye may be and man and a brother, sure enough; but it's little hospitality ye'll get out of yer relations on this dock, me ould buck!" The sharp competition for unskilled jobs between Irish…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1862

Between July 13 and 16, 1863, the largest riots the United States had yet seen shook New York City. In the so-called Civil War draft riots, the city's poor white working people, many of them Irish immigrants, bloodily protested the federally-imposed draft requiring all men to enlist in the Union Army. The rioters took out their rage on their…

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Item Type: Laws/Court Cases
Date: 1863

On July 20, four days after federal troops put down the 1863 Draft Riot, a group of Wall Street businessmen formed a committee to aid New York's devastated black community. The Committee of Merchants for the Relief of Colored People Suffering from the Late Riots gathered and distributed funds, and collected the following testimony.

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Item Type: Pamphlet/Petition
Date: Circa 1863

In this activity students research roles as either Irish immigrants or African-American residents in the midst of the New York City Draft Riots that took place in July 1863. Students gather evidence from primary sources to develop their characters, based on actual census records, and then enact a role play debating whether to stay in the city or…

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Item Type: Teaching Activity
Date: 2008

In 1863, Congress issued a Conscription Act to draft more people into the army to fight the Civil War. The draft law also included a provision that allowed wealthy men to pay $300 to a substitute, thus avoiding military service. In response, in New York City protesters led four days of violent attacks against African Americans, draft officials,…

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1863

These worksheets help students prepare for role plays of black and Irish New Yorkers debating their actions during the New York City draft riots of 1863. The worksheets accompany the activity "The New York City Draft Riots: A Role Play."

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Item Type: Worksheet
Date: 2010