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Congress Issues the Conscription Act
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 [...]
Who Fought for the Union?
In this activity students examine sheet music and letters from draft rioters to examine Union attitudes about the military draft during the Civil War.
A New York Rioter Explains His Opposition to the Draft
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 [...]
African-American Victims Describe the New York City Draft Riots
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 [...]
Background Essay on the New York City Draft Riots
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 [...]
Background Essay on Why They Fought
This essay explores the motivations of soldiers on both sides of the U.S. Civil War.
The New York City Draft Riots: A Role Play
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, [...]