New York City Draft Riots of 1863: Tension and Violence among Working Class and Black Population

Last Updated: 25 May 2023
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On July 13, 1863, the New York City under seize. The rioters burnt draft offices, railroad tracks and telegraph lines and even hunted the police and soldiers. The rioters action on the Black population and Black community in New York City. The disturbance also increased due to the establishment of the Conscription Act, 1863 and helped to create tension among the working class people. With this Act, the Black population only added to the growing bitterness.

The Act helped to create tension whereas division of two working class. The first group who were under 20-45 age single men and the second class who were married men within age of 20 to 35 years old. The second group would be given chance only when the first group was drafted or exempt from military service. Such system was created tension. The Black population worked for low wages even lower wages than larger than population of Irish and other local communities, which caused angriness on Black community.

The New York City Draft Riots of 1863 began in the early hours on Monday of July 13. The Riot began four hours before the Ninth District drafts commence which were scheduled 10.30 of that morning. The rioters began their march to the Nine District Draft Office. It was started during the business hours. The rioters began their devastation to the city. Looting, damaging telegraph lines and poles were happened. The Irish women also joined with the rioters.

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These rioters successfully managed to stop traffic on Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue. All worked met at vacant lot, which is east of Central Park before proceeding to the draft office. The afternoon of Monday July 13, the riots started a new direction by attacking both federal and municipal government, private property and assaulting of Black population. Then the attacks started on Republican property and factories throughout the week. Women rioters played a key role in purging the city of its Republican elements. The Irish Catholics were joined with riot group in the subsequent days.

Besides the riot groups have small number of artisans and Germans. After some days the riots entered into a new phase, which was more violent and destructive than the first day. Rioters still continued to destroy the property of prominent Republicans. Finally on July 14th Colonel O’Brien has been murdered. The women beat his face beyond recognition. The Colonel was dragged through the street to his own backyard. The rioter committed such violence on the body before the Colonel died.

The crowd of riot was so intent that they are ready to kill anybody who comes before them. It was also evidenced that when local druggist attempted to give water to the colonel for which the group of rioters immediately turned on him and destroyed his store. The group did not see the age of the people who wanted to help the colonel. A young girl tried and she was beaten and her home destroyed. The Rioters concentrated and made attacks on Black individuals, black community and their houses, children etc. Then the Rioters started to attacking the Blacks and started to destroy their physical property. The attacks made by Irish, which is violent where Abraham Franklin who was black man has been dragged to the street with amputation of the fingers and toes.

Conflict Resolution

Then the Federal Government made investigation the riots. But the government did not take action on findings. The names and identities of the men who started the riots were never disclosed to the public. It is also estimated that 50,000-70,000 have been participated in the riot, which included by men, women and even children. Out of them 443 arrested and 19 were only convicted. The so convicted men and women are not the leaders of riot and received 5 years average sentence.


The New York City Draft riots were a horrific time in American history. The riots were a revolt against living conditions of urban resident. It was happened because of combination of impoverished residents who were suffering economic hardship and inflation. It was also built up with the angriness to Irish people with the growing Black population and the Republican Party. The Rioters were not only just Irish heritage, but it was mix of the city’s population who sought their better life and they viewed that Black people and community are obstacles for their growth.



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New York City Draft Riots of 1863: Tension and Violence among Working Class and Black Population. (2017, May 16). Retrieved from

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