The New York City Draft Riots

In New York City, the Irish rioted against African-Americans and were shot by the Union Army
American North

Does the American North have a racial tradition? Of course.

Northern racialists were concentrated in the Democratic Party which was dominated by White Southerners. “The Democracy” was known at the time as the “White Man’s Party.”

Abraham Lincoln, for example, had been defeated by Stephen Douglas in the Illinois Senate race for being unsound on the racial question. The Republicans were always on the defensive on the race issue because of the strong appeal of white supremacy to Democratic voters.

In the Antebellum era, Northern racialists had enjoyed a lot of success in the Lower North. In 1821, New York effectively abolished black suffrage. In 1838, Pennsylvania abolished black suffrage. Free negroes were banned from settling in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Oregon.

In 1860, “African-Americans” could only vote in five New England states: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Elsewhere, Yankees had to coexist with other European ethnic groups like the Scots-Irish, Irish Catholics, the Germans, and Scandinavians, who did not share the Yankee enthusiasm for utopian social reform movements like abolitionism and temperance.

What happened? The Yankee dominated Republican Party triumphed in the North and fomented a war against the South that resulted in the destruction of the Northern black codes:

“Nonetheless, the national convention galvanized a black assault upon the Northern color line that, in the war’s final months, won some modest but impressive victories. In February 1865, John S. Rock of Boston became the first black lawyer admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court. (Only eight years earlier, in the Dred Scott case, the Court had denied that any black person could be a citizen of the United States.)

Slowly, the North’s racial barriers began to fall. In 1863, California for the first time permitted blacks to testify in criminal cases; early in 1865 Illinois repealed its law barring blacks from entering the state, serving on juries, or testifying in court, while Ohio eliminated the last of its discriminatory “black laws.” And in May 1865, Massachusetts passed the first comprehensive public accommodations law in American history.

In January, 1865, the issue of segregated transport became a national cause celebre when Robert Smalls, a black war hero, was ejected from a Philadelphia streetcar and forced to walk several miles to the navy yard where the Planter, the ship he had spirited from Charleston harbor nearly three years earlier, was undergoing repairs. Despite concerted pressure by the city’s black and white allies, including banker Jay Cooke, integration did not come to Philadelphia transport until 1867, but New York City, San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Cleveland all desegregated their streetcars during the war.”

Who were the Northern Democrats? They tended to be Scots-Irish and Irish Catholics:

“Its greatest strength lay in areas like the “butternut” farming regions of the Ohio Valley, closely tied to the South and bypassed by wartime economic expansion, and among urban Catholic immigrants and other voters hostile to the perfectionist reform tradition, with its impulse toward cultural homogeneity.” …

The Emancipation Proclamation provoked lurid Democratic descriptions of an impending black inudation of the Midwest. In Indiana, one group of Democratic women paraded before an election with banners emblazoned: ” Fathers, save us from nigger husbands.”

Aside from the War Between the States, the New York City Draft Riots of 1863 was the largest civil insurrection in American history. The Irish rose up against the Yankee Republicans and their “African-American” allies and were only put down by Union troops who had just arrived from Gettysburg:

“Exposing the class and racial tensions lying just beneath the surface of the city’s life and exacerbated by the war experience, the draft riot haunted New York’s elite long after its suppression, serving as a reminder of the threat posed by a “dangerous class” whose existence could no longer be denied. It spurred efforts by the Union League and other elite organizations to reform city government and strengthen the forces of order, and to improve the conditions of New York’s black population. A number of firms publicly announced their intention to replace Irish workers with blacks, the Union League succeeded in integrating the city’s streetcars, and in March 1864 a massive reception was organized for New York’s black soldiers, an “astonishing” change, observed the New York Times, from the time eight months earlier when “the African race in this city were literally hunted like wild beasts.”

New York City was integrated by the Union League.

The Irish draft riots against “African-Americans” in New York City would later be repeated in New Orleans and Memphis during Reconstruction. In Gangs of New York, you can see the scene below where the Irish are shot down by the Union Army.

Note: According to Eric Foner, 1/5th of the adult black male population of the United States was armed by Yankees and mobilized to serve in the Union Army. This was America before the Jews started arriving en masse in the 1890s.

About Hunter Wallace 12381 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. There was draft resistance in the coal mining regions
    of Pennsylvania, one of the main reasons, though it is
    seldom mentioned, for the harassment, imprisonments
    and executions of the Irish called Molly Maguires in the
    sixties and seventies. The Irish in our region have been
    traditional Democrats ever since.

  2. Mr. Wallace, I’m not sure what your counterfactual is. Do you think the North should have-

    -Not opposed slavery at all, but let slaveowners migrate with slaves where they wanted. This was the legal situation more or less after Dred Scott.

    -Not opposed the secession, but accept the CSA as an adjacent nation where slavery was practiced, while outlawing it in the remaining USA.

    -In the event of the CSA winning the war, accepted the same situation.

    Northerners as a whole were not capable of accepting the first situation. Southerners were not prepared to accept the limitation of slavery to the CSA states, whether or not secession had been acceded to or the CSA achieved victory.

  3. Yankees were “not capable” of accepting the first situation because their intention was always subvert the Constitution in order to dominate and control the federal government and remake the entire country in the image of their “Shining City on a Hill.”

    That is why Yankees opposed the Louisiana Purchase, opposed the admission of Missouri and Louisiana to the Union, opposed the annexation of Texas, and opposed the Mexican War and the Mexican Cession. They always consistently opposed the expansion of the South.

    After Southerners had fought and won the Mexican War, Yankees demanded that Southerners be excluded from the territories. It didn’t bother them in the slightest that the Missouri Compromise had ceded the vast majority of the Louisiana Purchase to their labor system. It didn’t bother them either that the Northwest had also been ceded to them after Polk had settled the Oregon question with Britain.

    Southerners naively assumed that the national territories were the common property of all citizens and should be open to everyone. Yankees believed that Southerners should be excluded from the territories.

    The worst mistake the South ever made was joining the United States.

  4. Interestingly enough, Ulysses S. Grant attempted to annex the Dominican Republic to the United States only to be thwarted by the liberal Charles Sumner who opposed annexation on the grounds that it posed a threat to Haitian Independence.

    Yankees who opposed the annexation of Texas thought that annexing the Dominican Republic and Hawaii and later Cuba and Puerto Rico was a good idea.

  5. Hunter- OK, I get that my Irish Catholic forebears who emigrated to the US during the Potato Famine era, didn’t cotton much to Negroes: both because of the difference in race, but also from the fact that the Irish were the ‘no niggers wanted’ of the North (too close to the Cromwellian disdain for the Irish, only removed two hundred years- isn’t it amazing that long-held ethnic prejudices erupt time and time again?).

    But what I still don’t get, is where the Calvinists degenerated from being at least orthodox Augustinians, holding up the Ecumenical Councils, etc. to becoming the Unitarian Transcendentalists, the Finneys, the Jos. Smiths, etc. I’ve read Dallimore’s book on the Great Awakening, and found Geo. Whitefield a marvel of a man, and even Wesley Bros. to be worthy of a nod, even though they departed from apostolic praxis in their ‘ordaining’ ministers.

    But where did the Yankee evolve from the (once) Christian protestant? And why does it seem to happen, in every generation – witness the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (the OPC) having concerns only for Calvinist Orthodoxy in the 1930’s under Machen, van Til, etc. to becoming the namby-pamby racial fornicators in the PCA in the late 1990’s?

    Or where the Anglo-Catholic Anglicans became in one generation (1940-1976) the sort that would steer ECUSA (the Episcopal Church) to Pike, Spong, and egalitarian social consciousness transplanting a Nashotah sentiment redolent of Gore, the theologian? Two widely different ecclesial traditions, yet both have capitulated to the ‘spirit of the age,’ seemingly overnight. But where did it all start IN AMERICA? THAT’s what I’ve yet to figure out…..

  6. “….Or where the Anglo-Catholic Anglicans became in one generation (1940-1976) the sort that would steer ECUSA (the Episcopal Church) to Pike, Spong, and egalitarian social consciousness transplanting a Nashotah sentiment redolent of Gore, the theologian? Two widely different ecclesial traditions, yet both have capitulated to the ‘spirit of the age,’ seemingly overnight. But where did it all start IN AMERICA? THAT’s what I’ve yet to figure out…..”

    In our Episcopal Church, the main thing was Vatican II. Suddenly, the parents had to go off to these ‘ecumenical’ meetings at the Catholic church, and they came back with this “we’re all people here” message. We were supposed to answer questions about what parts of catholicism we could accept and what parts we would reject. My mother, I know, said she just couldn’t get past the transubstantiation. She could think in terms of symbols and was fine with that, not the mystery of drinking real blood and eating bodies. That was the only catholic thing she really had a problem with, she told the catholic representatives she went to see. Personally, the attention to the ‘dead’ as opposed to ‘living’ Jesus was what I reported as a kid. Anyway, Vat II was a really big deal in the protestant community where I was.

    From there it was female ministers and then, much later, gays. It took exactly 30 years for a church that had supported a couple hundred families to shut its doors forever.

    The other thing that happened was typical for 1965 in a small town (there was no “private” schools or need— and only a small jew and catholic population, and so, 2 very small schools to support them, since they wouldn’t use the public schools despite how good the public schools were at that time, the best in the world, due to religious differences—). So, when the shtf (Vatican II, the death of JFK, RK, MLK, rioting, and the whole era)— there was no quick fix and protestants were sent to catholic schools where they got an earful about what the catholics really thought of them.

    Within ten years that would change, since it was not going to work out, and so “Home School” and other alternatives (now charter schools, etc.) had to be created. Now, the protestant kids in rural areas tend to bypass the trip so many had in the 60s to catholic schools (the endless tirades about how they ruined America, how catholics do the only things ever good, how the protestants are evil heretics, etc. (Really wish there was something else to report on the experience).

    THEN —after all that— those protestants felt very BETRAYED by their own people. Why had they sold out to the pope?— who was a big globalist, who did not have their interests at heart, etc. And THEN they refused as teens to go back to the Episcopal church. Nor were they going to become catholic after all that, either.

    IMO— it was the swing toward catholicism during the initial violence of the 60s (the pope’s imposition of VAT II on a largely protestant and traditionally protestant country, demographically, and that had a constitution that fit very well with its religion)— that helped produce the current “zionist christianity’ among the protestants.

    While it helps the previously ron-paulish population (previously middle American National sovereignty types) FIT with the O’Reilly/ Hannity/ Coulter Militarist-Corporitist-Romanist “get them moo slims” mentality—- it is also tied to the 60s experience American protestant had with the Catholics— shoving VAT II and a bunch of Kennedys down their throats.

    It’s that thing where all the Hannitys and Kennedys start actually making commie jews look good.

    Just 2 cents. VAT II really sucked if you weren’t catholics. (They always act as if it was something in their church, not something imposed on others.) It had a lot of reverberations— one of which was its presumable real goal— destroying the Episcopalian church (and by extension government ideas underwritten by protestant faith)— the main winner of the current system has been catholicism, to be sure. (Demographically, by importing mexico, it has become a Romanized country, in many ways—and the Welfare State-warfare state system reflects a European way that departs from American.

    Anyway, our Episcopal church closed after VAT II was imposed. That was the first pawn out.

  7. Anatevka, Anatevka.
    Underfed, overworked Anatevka.
    Where else could Sabbath be so sweet?

    Anatevka, Anatevka.
    Intimate, obstinate Anatevka.

    Oy vey!

  8. I came away from reading this article wondering why the nigger-haters in New York didn’t just eliminate the Union League.

    Then I quickly realized that I shouldn’t fault them for not taking that action because we have many equivalents of the Union League operating today and I am not personally willing to be the first to start the wet work.

    It appears that there has always been a serious shortage of Anders Breviks in the world.

  9. Legal and political issues aside, you had two groups of people who wanted different things and were not going to be able to share the same continent without bloodshed.

    My ultimate counterfactual is that had not Southerners brought large numbers of Africans into North America, it would be a lot nicer and a lot of trouble would have been saved.

    I understand it is difficult, but you are using the term “Yankees” or abolitionists to refer to all people in the North. Social equality for blacks was never envisioned by any significant number of people in the North at that time and did not occur until a century later, driven by different forces.

    I’m a bit taken aback you use the phrase “their labor system” to refer to a society of only free whites. I think “a significant improvement on European society, with all the art, culture, technology, craftmanship, industry, science, and philosophy, but without monarchy and hereditary privilege.” A society of black slavery is not just a degeneration from that, but a degeneration from ancient European slave society.

  10. Dixiegirl, what on earth are you rambling on about? Vatican II was only imposed on Catholics, not non-Catholics. In fact, Vatican II made the Catholic Church more Protestant which annoyed so many devout Catholics that church attendance went into a decline that has continued until the present day.

  11. Dixiegirl said: “Anyway, our Episcopal church closed after VAT II was imposed”

    Please explain how Vatican II caused the closure of a Protestant church.

  12. Dixiegirl said: “shoving VAT II and a bunch of Kennedys down their throats”

    How were the Kennedys shoved down Protestant throats? Are you saying that only Protestants should have the right to run for public office? Are you some Jew trying to make white Protestants look like fools?

  13. Joe- I think Dixiegirl’s comments came from my question. I do know that all of the ‘liturgical revisionism’ of every single Protestant denomination followed close on the heels of the wake of Vatican II. One need only look at timetables to see that this was true. Conversely, one need only read books like Day’s “Why Catholics can’t sing” to see that there was a huge Anti-ANGLO bias in the American RC hierarchy, that wouldn’t even deem the lovely prose and cadential patterns of the historic BCP and the KJV, that gave us ‘feed box’ theology in the first attempts at liturgics in English from the American RC’s- that ony NOW, forty-plus years later, is finally being rectified, and yet STILL avoides the ‘Thee-Yo, God” distinction which is a fundamental factor in liturgical Language.

    But I do not think Vatican II did all this, either Dixiegirl. It may have “appeared” to be so, but in actuality, it was going on long before 1960. And that is the thrust of my original question. Where did this rot set in BEFORE it bloomed like some ‘Feed me, Seymour!’ plant? That was what I was asking Mr. Wallace when I posed my question.

  14. Name an Irish Roman Catholic politician who isn’t kissing Jew, non-White or homosexual ass.

    Pat Buchanan doesn’t count because he has never been elected to anything!

    You Catholics are politically delusional.

  15. Why do people like Thrasymachus Go on about what if scenarios? It’s too late to go back now and the ghost of the civil war will destroy the United States. No union and no confederacy.

  16. No more Ransome money—RIOTS! There should be only one Peoples Bank run by Government. If Government Bank Workers or Politicians or any Government Official tries to do a sham or scheme and is caught in act, will be put in front of Firing Squad! Wall Street people like Greenburg and Corzine need justice! Does anyone have comments on these Bankers?

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