Gothamist: In the midst of the Civil War, Congress passed a law to draft men to fight in the conflict. While the wealthy could pay $300 to hire a substitute to fight instead, New York's Irish working class, many of them already worried about competition from black laborers, was left to face the prospect of going into the battle. And then tensions boiled over into what ultimately became New York City's deadliest clash." /> Gothamist: In the midst of the Civil War, Congress passed a law to draft men to fight in the conflict. While the wealthy could pay $300 to hire a substitute to fight instead, New York's Irish working class, many of them already worried about competition from black laborers, was left to face the prospect of going into the battle. And then tensions boiled over into what ultimately became New York City's deadliest clash.">

GOTHAMIST: NYC’s Deadliest Riot Happened Nearly 150 Years Ago

From our partners at Gothamist: In the midst of the Civil War, Congress passed a law to draft men to fight in the conflict. While the wealthy could pay $300 to hire a substitute to fight instead, New York’s Irish working class, many of them already worried about competition from black laborers, was left to face the prospect of going into the battle. And then tensions boiled over into what ultimately became New York City’s deadliest clash.

The Civil War’s long shadow looms in BBC America’s Copper, a gripping new cop-drama series set in 1860s New York City from Academy Award®-winner Barry Levinson and Emmy® Award-winner Tom Fontana. While New York was in the Union, not all city residents were happy about that: With the population growing by leaps and bounds, thanks to immigrants and newly freed slaves, people struggled to coexist in the crowded, cutthroat city. Read on for more details of the bloody days that rocked the city.

“The Burning of the Provost Marshal’s Office”

New York was already a center of industry for the war—factories made uniforms, the Brooklyn Navy Yard built warships, Wall Street financed the war—but a drafty lottery on July 13 became a flashpoint. A crowd of 500 threw bricks at a draft location—Third Avenue and 47th Street—and set fire to the building. Stores were ransacked, and riots spread. Police officers were beaten, including police superintendent John Kennedy, who was only saved when someone said he was dead—he actually had 20 wounds and over 70 bruises.

By the afternoon, blacks started to become targets—the Colored Orphan Asylum (Fifth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets) was looted and burned down by thousands of angry men and women. Two hundred thirty-three orphans, who were essentially unharmed, were moved to the 35th Street Police Station, and they were lucky—many blacks (including children) were beaten and eleven were killed, including a disabled black man who was beaten, hanged and then dragged through the mud and a seven-year-old who was caught while trying to flee a fire and beaten to death. Tenements occupied by blacks were set on fire.

Over the course of the riots, mobs also attacked those who supported the Union, like Republicans or those who they believed to be Republican, and ransacked stores frequented by the wealthy, like Brooks Brothers (which also made uniforms for NY’s troops). They also burned down the offices of the New York Daily Tribune, which was led by pro-Republican Horace Greeley. Whites who gave shelter to blacks or tried to stop the riots were assaulted; brothels who had mixed-race clientele were also targeted. The city’s Board of Aldermen and Common Counsel passed a resolution to pay $2.5 million for exemptions for workers.

By the fourth day, July 16, Governor Seymore asked Archbishop John Hughes to help calm down rioters, and Hughes, Irish himself (and who had published racist diatribes), appealed to thousands, “I have been hurt by the report that you were rioters. You cannot imagine that I could hear these things without being grievously pained.” On that very day, four thousand federal troops arrived from Gettysburg and the riots ended the next day.

The official death toll was 119, but it’s believed as many as two thousand could have been killed while thousands were injured. One result of the violence was that some blacks moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and New Jersey.

“The rioters dragging Col. O’Brien’s body through the street.” O’Brien, who commanded the 11th Regiment of NY Volunteers, was brutally beaten and kicked and dragged through the streets at 34th and Second Avenue

New York was already a center of industry for the war—factories made uniforms, the Brooklyn Navy Yard built warships, Wall Street financed the war—but a drafty lottery on July 13 became a flashpoint. A crowd of 500 threw bricks at a draft location—Third Avenue and 47th Street—and set fire to the building. Stores were ransacked, and riots spread. Police officers were beaten, including police superintendent John Kennedy, who was only saved when someone said he was dead—he actually had 20 wounds and over 70 bruises.

By the afternoon, blacks started to become targets—the Colored Orphan Asylum (Fifth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets) was looted and burned down by thousands of angry men and women. Two hundred thirty-three orphans, who were essentially unharmed, were moved to the 35th Street Police Station, and they were lucky—many blacks (including children) were beaten and eleven were killed, including a disabled black man who was beaten, hanged and then dragged through the mud and a seven-year-old who was caught while trying to flee a fire and beaten to death. Tenements occupied by blacks were set on fire.

Over the course of the riots, mobs also attacked those who supported the Union, like Republicans or those who they believed to be Republican, and ransacked stores frequented by the wealthy, like Brooks Brothers (which also made uniforms for NY’s troops). They also burned down the offices of the New York Daily Tribune, which was led by pro-Republican Horace Greeley. Whites who gave shelter to blacks or tried to stop the riots were assaulted; brothels who had mixed-race clientele were also targeted. The city’s Board of Aldermen and Common Counsel passed a resolution to pay $2.5 million for exemptions for workers.

By the fourth day, July 16, Governor Seymore asked Archbishop John Hughes to help calm down rioters, and Hughes, Irish himself (and who had published racist diatribes), appealed to thousands, “I have been hurt by the report that you were rioters. You cannot imagine that I could hear these things without being grievously pained.” On that very day, four thousand federal troops arrived from Gettysburg and the riots ended the next day.

The official death toll was 119, but it’s believed as many as two thousand could have been killed while thousands were injured. One result of the violence was that some blacks moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and New Jersey.

Read more at Gothamist: NYC’s Deadliest Riot Happened Nearly 150 Years Ago