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The New York Draft Riots

The Streets of New York City Erupted in Violence in July 1863


In July 1863, at the height of the Civil War, and within days of the conclusion of the Battle of Gettysburg, the streets of Manhattan suddenly erupted in violence.

The poorer classes of the city, mainly Irish immigrants, resented the institution of a draft to conscript soldiers for duty in the Civil War.

The riots turned into pitched battles in some spots in the city, with mobs battling New York Police and even federal troops. By the time it was over, buildings had been burned and hundreds of people had been wounded or killed.

The nation, which had been following news of Civil War battles for two years, was stunned to be reading about mobs battling police and soldiers in the streets of America's biggest city. This gallery of vintage images, most of them from magazines of the day, provide a taste of how the news was relayed across the country.

For permission to use many of these images, gratitude is extended to the New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Images 1-11 of 11
Pearl and Chatham Streets, 1861Chatham and Pearl Streets69th Regiment ParadesNew York Celebrated as the 69th Regiment Left for War69th New York Boards a ShipThe 69th Regiment Sailed from New York to VirginiaProvost Marshal's Office BurnsRioting Mobs Burned Federal Offices During the New York Draft Riots
Battle on Second AvenueA Battle Broke Out on Second Avenue in New York CityBattle on First AvenueRioting Mobs Obtained Weapons and Fired Upon PoliceLynching on Clarkson StreetThe 1863 Draft Riots Were Fueled by Racial ResentmentBurning of the Colored Orphan's AsylumThe Rioting Mobs Burned the Colored Orphan's Asylum
Mob Attacks the New York TribuneThe New York Tribune was Attacked by Rioters in 1863Morgue Following the Draft RiotsThe Draft Riots May Have Cost Hundreds of LivesLincoln by Alexander Gardner, 1863Lincoln Defended the Draft Following the Riots in New York
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