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DRAFT RIOTS [1863]

On July 13, 1863, poor white laborers in New York City rioted in protest to the draft for the Union army (and especially the exemption of men able to pay $300 to hire substitutes). “The mob grew to thousands of angry, violent whites who attacked any black person or business in their path.” Violent rioters flooded the streets for four days, resulting in the lynching of eleven black men, with hundreds more African-Americans killed and injured.  On 5th Ave and 43rd Street, a shelter for 233 black children was attacked by a mob of several thousands, who looted the shelter for food and supplies and burned the building down because it was a “symbol of white charity to blacks and of black upward mobility.” The Draft Riots are widely considered to have fundamentally changed Manhattan’s demographics, driving many black residents out of Manhattan permanently. As the Equal Justice Initiative's "Lynching in America" project has shown, it is essential to face the brutal stories of racial terror if we want to address their legacy.