The New York City Draft Riots

By | August 17, 2019

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Draft riots in New York, July 13-16, 1863. Source: (

Ten days after the Union’s famous victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, New York City erupted in one of the most violent and racially-charged civil disturbances in American history.

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Fernando Wood. (1812-1881)

New York City was never a whole-hearted supporter of the Union cause during the American Civil War. The South with its vast cotton production was a major trading partner of the city with one estimate showing that 40 percent of all goods shipped from New York before the Civil War were cotton. Also, the city was a “copperhead” stronghold, Northern democrats who were sympathetic to the South. To give you the idea, a former and notoriously corrupt mayor of the city, Fernando Wood, declared the “dissolution of the Union as inevitable” and that the “our aggrieved southern brethren of the slave states” were being subjected to the “fanatical spirit of New England.” He advocated that New York City should secede from the Union to become a “free city.”