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The New York Draft Riots Essay

979 words - 4 pages

During the nineteenth century, the nativists and many of the native inhabitants of New York looked down upon the Irish immigrants because of their poverty and large numbers. The Irish symbolized destitution and desperation and stereotyped them as criminals. Their poverty-stricken appearance caused many people especially those who agreed with the nativist ideology to look at them with distaste. Furthermore, the New York Draft riots in 1863 did little to help with the public’s opinion of the Irish. Feeling bitter about the unfairness of the new draft laws the rioters took desperate measures. The rioters were predominately Irish and they participated in the burning and looting of several buildings. The rioters caused mayhem leader to several death and injuries from July 13 to 16. An article in Harper’s Weekly featured several drawings that depicted the madness. The images featured violent fights with the police, lynching of an African American man, ruins of a building and looting of a store. These pictures depict the destructive and disturbing actions of the rioters. The New York Draft riots only heightened the public’s perception that the Irish immigrants were dangerous and bringing harm to the United States.
The new wave of Irish immigrants created competition for jobs and territory in the city, which caused anti-Catholic nativism to grow. Many of the Irish immigrants hoping to escape starvation and seeking new opportunities and were willing to work for meager wages to support their families. The nativists saw themselves as superior to foreigners because they believe that they had helped build the United States and the immigrants were taking advantage. In the novel by Orvilla S Belisile titled The Arch Bishop: or Romanism in the United States Balisle uses the metaphor of conquest and imprisonment to portray his bitterness at the arrival of the Irish immigrants to the United States. The book states, “Her captors been content with their conquest, she would still have hugged the chains that fettered and disfigured her majestic form.” The nativist ideology is clear in these lines because believes that the new immigrants are opportunists tainting the United States political system. The author believes that the immigrants are weighting down the United Sates with their “chains” alluding to the political participation of foreigners which is ruining her once “majestic form.” 2 The response to the arrival of many new immigrants (especially the Irish) was the creation of the Bowery Boys a nativist, anti-Irish, and anti-Catholic gang that often harassed and ran into trouble with the Irish gang the Dead Rabbits.
In the article, titled Rioting and Bloodshed events of the fight between the Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Boys in the Sixth Ward are recorded. The riot took place on the fourth of July in 1857 on 6th, 7th and 13th Wards where six men died while over a hundred where injured in...

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