Learning Target: I can explain how the economics of slavery affected the history of New York City.

  1. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Do Now: In general, where did slavery exist in the United States (before the Civil War)?
Why was it important to certain states' economy?

The city's slave market on the East River, which stood at what is today the corner of Wall and Pearl Streets

The Market on Wall Street

City to Acknowledge It Operated a Slave Market for More Than 50 Years

Walk down the canyon of Wall Street and you'll come across several of Lower Manhattan's 38 historical markers, most of them celebrating achievements in fields like finance and skyscraper-building. But soon a new marker will raise a more ominous subject: how, for centuries, New York City was built on the backs of slaves.

The New York Draft Riots of 1863

Black citizens and institutions were attacked in the worst mob violence in American history. During four days of rioting, about 120 people were killed as mobs lynched at least a dozen African American men, destroyed draft offices, and burned and looted black neighborhoods and the homes of leading Republicans and abolitionists.

Why did whites in New York City, mostly Irish immigrants, go on a rampage and murder hundreds of people in July 1863?

Many men were killed and thrown into rivers, a great number hung to trees and lampposts, numbers shot down; no black person could show their heads but what they were hunted like wolves. These scenes continued for four days. Hundreds of our people are in stationhouses, in the woods, and on Blackwell’s Island. Over three thousand are today homeless and destitute, without means of support for their families. It is truly a day of distress to our race in this section

In Brooklyn we have not had any great trouble, but many of our people have been compelled to leave their houses and flee for refuge. The Irish have become so brutish that it is unsafe for families to live near them, and while I write, there are many now in the stations and country hiding from violence

From The Christian Recorder in Marching Toward Freedom, James McPherson, 1965

Draft Riot Mystery

  • The Irish had a long tradition of being oppressed. Their land was taken over by wealthy British landlords. By 1700, only 14 percent of Ireland was owned by the Irish.
  • Between 1820 and 1840, British landlords in Ireland evicted Irish peasants from the land. Landlords decided they could make more profit raising cattle than allowing peasants to farm the land.
  • To escape terrible poverty, in the early 1800s thousands upon thousands of people from Ireland came to the United States. Between 1815 and 1840, one million Irish came to this country.
  • The potato was the main crop for most Irish peasants. A potato famine began in Ireland in 1845. Between 1845 and 1855 about a million people in Ireland starved to death.
  • Even though people starved during the Irish potato famine, British landlords continued to export grain and cattle to sell in Great Britain.
  • One and a half million people emigrated from Ireland to the United States during the potato famine.
  • Almost all the Irish who immigrated to the United States were Catholic.
  • The Irish who came to the United States got the worst and lowest paid jobs. The men worked in mines, dug canals, worked on the railroads, and did other hard, poorly paid labor. These jobs were extremely dangerous. The women worked in the mills or as domestic workers.
  • Irish women competed with black women for jobs as domestics. In 1830, a majority of the servants in New York City were black. By the 1850s, 80 percent of the servants were Irish.
  • Many Irish men and women believed that if they traveled to America they would not be poor.
  • Many native-born white Americans, who tended to have more money, looked down on the Irish. The Irish were often put down with names like “mick”: “Mick, do this, Mick, do that.”
  • Many Irish people had been living in the United States a very short time when the Civil War broke out in 1861.
  • Many blacks in the North resented the new people who came from Ireland and appeared to think that because they had white skin, they had more rights to jobs than did the blacks. As the black abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote: “Every hour sees us elbowed out of some employment to make room perhaps for some newly arrived immigrants ...”
  • Because of their poverty, many of the Irish lived in terrible conditions in the United States. As one immigrant said, they treated us like “dogs.”
  • At times, employers brought in Chinese or black workers to break the strikes of Irish workers.
  • At times, blacks in the North made fun of the Irish or criticized them as “the scum of European society.”
  • Conflicts over religious instruction in school led some native-born white American Protestants to burn down Irish Catholic churches.
  • In the South, at times the Irish would be hired to do the most dangerous jobs. Slave owners would prefer to lose a temporary Irish worker than a permanent black slave, whom they saw as their property
  • Irish workers saw that Northern businessmen were becoming rich off the Civil War. Contractors sold defective guns to the U.S. army; manufacturers sold cheaply made uniforms at a hefty profit; merchants sold sand as sugar.
  • In the north, the Irish competed with blacks for jobs like waiters, coachmen, and longshoremen. The Irish constantly worried about this job competition.
  • On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Many people in the North believed this meant that the Civil War was now being fought to free black slaves.
  • Democrats who opposed the Civil War owned many newspapers in the North. Some newspapers even supported the South. The papers wrote that whites in the North would be drafted to free black slaves.
  • If the slaves were freed, many Irish believed that they would move North. This is what the Democratic-owned newspapers wrote.
  • During the Civil War, many black refugees from the South came north to the cities.
  • In the summer of 1863, 3,000 mostly white longshoremen in New York City went on strike. Most of the strikers were Irish immigrants. Employers brought in black workers, under police protection, to break the strike
  • During the Civil War, very few black people in the United States were Catholic.
  • In March 1863, a draft law was passed. It made all white men, age 20 to 45 liable for military service.
  • If someone was drafted into the military and didn’t want to go, he could pay the government $300—if he could afford it. For that amount he wouldn’t have to join the military. Or, if a man was drafted, his family could hire a substitute to fight in his place.
  • For many white soldiers, the Civil War was very unpopular. In 1862, in one month alone, more than 2,500 deserters were returned to the Union army in just one city.
  • Many of the first people in the North who were drafted to fight in the Civil War were poor Irishmen.
  • Answer the following questions as a group using the clues that you have. Remember: you may say your clue aloud but you may not show it to anyone else. Question #3 is an opinion question. You won’t need specific clues to answer this one.

    1. What events or conditions made the Irish angry?
    2. What problems did Irish immigrants in the U.S. face for which they might have blamed black Americans?
    3. Who or what should the Irish have blamed for these problems?
    4. In a paragraph, summarize the causes of the Draft Riots of 1863.