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This Day in Black History: July 13, 1863

The New York City Draft riots began on July 13, 1863.

On the morning of July 13, 1863, the New York Draft riots broke out as working class white New Yorkers protested being drafted into the Civil War. A group broke off from the government protesters and attacked African-Americans who they felt threatened their employment opportunities.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted in January 1863, Irish New Yorkers who were pro-slavery felt they would face labor competition with African-Americans who would flee from the South to the North.  

Also, the only way to avoid the draft was to pay $300, which many poor New Yorkers, many who were Irish, could not afford. Blacks were exempt from the draft because they were not considered citizens.

On the day of the riot, participants attacked government buildings at first. But then Black businesses were destroyed and a Black orphanage was set on fire. Some Black men were hung and their bodies were burnt. Eleven black men were lynched over the five days of attacks and the riots forced hundreds of Blacks out of the city.

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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Public Domain)

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