Draft Riots in New York


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 22, 1863

Welcome to our online collection of Civil War newspapers. This archive serves as an excellent tool to help in your study and research on the War. These newspapers will allow you to gain unique insights into the details of the conflict. Of particular interest is the wood cut illustrations.

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Gettysburg Hero

Gettysburg After the Battle

New York Riots

New York Riots

Black Army

Black Army

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Gettysburg Battle Scenes

Remembering Gettysburg

Remembering Gettysburg

Cavalry Officers

Cavalry Officers

Charleston Siege

Charleston Siege

Jeff Davis Cartoon

Jeff Davis Cartoon


View of Gettysburg

Soldiers Eating

Soldiers Eating

Morris Island

Morris Island






[AUGUST 22, 1863.


(Previous Page) And all the time good Uncle Sam

Sat by his fireside near,

Smokin' of his kinnikinick,

And drinkin' lager-beer.

He laughed and quaffed, and quaffed and laughed,

Nor thought it worth his while,

Until the storm in fury burst

On Sumter's sea-girt isle.


O'er the waves to the smoking fort,

When came the dewy dawn,

To see the flag he looked—and lo,

Eleven stars were gone!

"My pretty, pretty stars!" he cried,

And down did roll a tear.

"I've got your stars, Old Fogy Sam;

"Ha, ha!" laughed Cavalier.


"I've got your stars in my watch-fob;

Come take them, if you dare!"

And Uncle Sam he turned away,

Too full of wrath to swear.

"Let thunder all the drums!" he cried,

While swelled his soul, like Mars:

"A million Northern boys I'll get

To bring me home my stars."


And on his mare, stout Betsey Jane,

To Northside town he flew;

The dogs they barked, the bells did ring,

And countless bugles blew.

"My stolen stars!" cried Uncle Sam—

"My stolen stars!" cried he.

"A million soldiers I must have

To bring them home to me."


"Dry up your tears, good Uncle Sam;

Dry up!" said Puritan.

"We'll bring you home your stolen stars,

Or perish every man!"

And at the words a million rose,

All ready for the fray;

And columns formed, like rivers deep,

And Southward marched away.

* * * * * *

And still old Uncle Samuel

Sits by his fireside near,

Smokin' of his kinnikinick

And drinkin' lager-beer;

While there's a tremble in the earth,

A gleaming of the sky,

And the rivers stop to listen

As the million marches by.



THE New York Riots are passing into history, and public opinion is crystallizing on the subject. It is extremely difficult to find an apologist, nowadays, for the scoundrels who murdered black men because they were black, and burned an orphan asylum because the orphans were not born—poor little creatures!—with white skins. The newspapers which fomented the riot now feebly and sneakingly squirm out of the scrape; and those which called the most ruffianly mob of the century a "procession of the people" are vigorously endeavoring to divert attention from themselves by calling their neighbors hard names. There is no one left to put forth even the faintest shadow of an excuse for the rioters but Governor Horatio Seymour.

And he does not amount to much. Blinded, like so many better men, by the dazzling vision of the White House in the distance, he has made a bid for the blackguards' vote in the shape of a couple of letters to the President, urging him to follow the example of the New York Common Council, and yield the point at issue to the thieves and murderers of New York. In several solid columns of nonpareil type does the Governor of the State strive to extenuate arson, robbery, and murder, and to nullify a statute of Congress. Of all this trash and pettifoggery the President has made short work. He disdains to follow the Governor into his petty argument about the distribution of quotas, and the party political question; but settles the controversy in these calm, crushing words:

"We are contending with an enemy who, as I understand, drives every able-bodied man he can reach into his ranks, very much as a butcher drives bullocks into a slaughter-pen. No time is wasted, no argument is used. This produces an army which will soon turn upon our now victorious soldiers already in the field, if they shall not be sustained by recruits as they should be. It produces an army with a rapidity not to be matched on our side, if we first waste time to re-experiment with the volunteer system, already deemed by Congress, and palpably, in fact, as far exhausted as to be inadequate, and then more time to obtain a court decision as to whether a law is constitutional which requires a part of those not now in the service to go to the aid of those who are already in it; and still more time to determine with absolute certainty that we get those who are to go in the precisely legal proportion to those who are not to go. My purpose is to be in my action just and constitutional, and yet practical, in performing the important duty with which I am charged, of maintaining the unity and the free principles of our common country."

We do not envy the feelings that will fill the breast of the descendants of Horatio Seymour when the time comes for the impartial historian of the war to record the part their ancestor took at its most vital crisis. It will be his duty—a duty inevitable and clear—to point out that, just as victory seemed assured to the National cause, the term of service of a large proportion of the Union troops expired, and there was no means of filling the depleted ranks of the army except by draft; that, in view of this emergency,

a Conscription Act, framed with the utmost care, based upon the experience of foreign nations, and more tenderly careful of the interests of the widow, the orphan, and the helpless, than any other similar statute in existence, had been duly passed and made a law; that when the emergency arose for its execution, it was peacefully submitted to every where except in the city of New York, where it was resisted by men who testified their sense of civic duty and constitutional obligation by burning an orphan asylum, murdering negroes, robbing private individuals, and sacking private houses; and that, at this vital crisis, the Governor of New York addressed the miscreants who had done these deeds as his "friends," and actually advised the National Executive to defer to their views, and to suspend the execution of the law until the emergency had gone by, and the South had recovered from its losses and raised a new army to destroy the nation. We are not of those who regard Governor Seymour as a secret accomplice of the rebels. But we can not help thinking that the historian will have some difficulty in reconciling, on ordinary principles of human conduct, his letters to the President with his oft-repeated and mellifluous professions of loyalty.

It will be to him a satisfactory change to turn to the reports of our law courts. No man who entertains a proper sense of pride in his country can calmly brook the idea that the great Democratic party, which has ruled this country for so many years, had, at so fatal a moment, covered itself with infamy. And the historian will perceive with joy that no such idea can be sustained by the evidence. For he will find that within a month of the time when the Governor was calling the rioters his friends, and begging the President to grant them what they asked, a Democratic Recorder and a Democratic District Attorney were administering the law with inexorable severity, and securing the punishment of the ruffians who disgraced us in a most exemplary manner. Ten and fifteen years of State prison have been awarded to minor culprits; the trials have in every case been thorough, impartial, and swift; there is every reason to hope that by the time these lines are read some of the greater scoundrels—the brutal Irishmen who battered in negroes' skulls with paving stones—may be brought up for sentence, and condemned to suffer the highest penalty known to the law.

The Recorder and District Attorney are redeeming the fair fame of the city. If they continue to do their duty—and they may feel assured that they are sustained in their present course by every citizen who earns an honest living—they will command the highest station in the gift of the people of the city. Even the clients of the Archbishop are at bottom in favor of law and order, for they, too, have something to lose. In every large community scoundrels are a minority and honest men a majority. Governor Seymour has seemingly cast his lot with the former, Recorder Hoffman with the latter. The next election will tell which has made the better choice.


THE Secretary of the Treasury has announced that he will continue for the present to sell six per cent. five-year bonds at par to all who apply for them. For the past four or five months the sales of these bonds have been so large as to defray the entire cost of the war; in all, about $250,000,000 have been sold—mostly through the houses of Jay, Cooke, & Co., of Philadelphia, and Fisk & Hatch, bankers, of New York. This is, we believe, the first instance in history in which the cost of a great war has been defrayed by the voluntary contributions of the people, carried by them from day to day to the fiscal agents of Government.

Mr. Chase's administration of the finances has been successful beyond all precedent, and probably beyond his own expectations. Our national credit now stands so high that he was able, the other day, to refuse an offer, made by European agents, of par for $100,000,000 of thirty-year fives. He told the applicants that he would let them have a four per cent. loan at the price, or a fifteen-year five per cent. loan. This was the best he would do.

The English, who would not buy our bonds when they were at par, and exchange at 180 or 190, thus reducing the cost of the bonds in sterling to 55 or 60, are now purchasing them freely at 106, with exchange at 138 or 139. This, however, is a less expensive operation than their venture in Confederate scrip. That they bought at 101 or 104, and thought they were doing well; now they are trying to sell it at 80 or 83, and find it hard work. A smart people!


THE papers are publishing a correspondence between somebody whose name is not given and Laird, the pirate ship-builder of Liverpool, from which it would appear that Laird had been requested by the Navy Department to build vessels for the United States navy.

Secretary Welles has distinctly stated that he made no such request, and authorized no one to make it for him or for the Department.

Under the circumstances we fail to see the object of publishing the correspondence. An anonymous letter can not for a moment stand against the authoritative denial of the Secretary of the Navy. And even if Laird had given his agent's name, or stated that he personally was privy to the alleged proposal, there is no reason why he should be believed. A man who will build pirate craft, in violation of the law of his own country, to prey upon the commerce of a friendly and allied nation, surely belongs to that class of persons whose evidence is inadmissible in courts of justice, except in confession of guilt for the conviction of accomplices.



WHEN, before the battle of Manassas, Beauregard issued his "beauty and booty" proclamation, the derision of the country at once perceived the unmitigated Munchausen who has been ridiculous ever since. But the cold chief of the rebellion, who can not plead the ardor of Creole blood, and who, when a student at West Point, declared that he had no association with Yankees, has recently surpassed his subordinate in shameless falsehood. Davis's proclamation of the 1st August sounds like a cry wrung from despair. "Victory waits at the tips of your fingers," he cries to the men he has so long and terribly deceived; "why not stretch out your hands and seize it?" But if success were so imminent could it be necessary, in such a tone of anguish, to exhort his men to grasp it? After Bull Run, after the two Fredericksburgs, after the earlier repulses at Vicksburg and Charleston, did he summon his followers in so frantic a voice to return to their ranks and reap the golden triumph that wooed their swords? Did he enjoin fasting and prayer in view of the "inevitable" success of which he now speaks, or did he ordain thanksgiving and joy? Does Jefferson Davis suppose that any body is so silly as to believe that if, as he says, "Victory is within your reach," the men he appeals to would desert and stand sternly aloof?

But the assertions of his manifest are more atrocious than the implications are encouraging. He says that our malignant rage aims at the extermination of the rebels, their wives, and children; that we wish to destroy what we can not plunder; and that we propose to partition their homes among wretches. All this is such utter rubbish that it may be at once dismissed to the category of "beauty and booty." But when Catiline Davis proceeds to say that the Government of his country debauches an inferior race, heretofore docile and contented, by promising them the indulgence of the vilest passions as the price of their treachery, he is so sublime in mendacity that Beauregard must despair.

His statement is curious for the variety of its absurdity. This race has heretofore been docile and contented, he says. How contented the Journal of Mrs. Kemble and of every competent observer, and the slave laws of every slave State, show. They are docile and contented—how, then, is it possible for us to excite them to insurrection, as he alleges we are trying to do? Does he think the people of the State of New York, of the Northwest, or of New England, can be "excited to servile insurrection?" Of course not—because they are docile and contented; and if slaves can be so excited, it is because they are precisely not what he says they are. A servile people which by the sudden prospect of personal freedom can be roused to insurrection, is a people whose previous quiet is not content but hopeless subjugation. To call that hopeful prospect of personal freedom under the military superintendence of a great government "a promise of the indulgence of the vilest passions," merely illustrates the character of the system to which they have been subjected.

It is unnecessary to follow this document into other details. It is the most piercing wail that has yet risen from the black gulf of the rebellion; and when he says that the absentees from the rebel army are enough to secure the victory he predicts, it is a frank confession which betrays the dire strait in which he finds himself. If they would not rally before the late disasters of the rebel cause, are they likely to rally after? Such a result might be expected in the case of a people heroically struggling against oppression. But when a band of conspirators who aim to destroy their Government because it does not oppress, but enlarges liberty under law —who aim to dishonor and ruin their native land, to reverse the course of civilization, and to prevent the increase of human happiness—find that their plots miscarry, that their armies are defeated and dismayed, and that their crimes are likely to come soon to awful judgment, there is nothing left in the human heart or conscience or hand upon which they can rely. Behind them is desolation, and before them despair. If any man doubts it, let him read Davis's proclamation, which, with the urgent order of Lee, betrays how vast is the rebel military defection.


MR. "VICE-PRESIDENT" STEPHENS has a happy gift of smiling under extreme difficulties. He has lately taken advantage of the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, of the opening of the Mississippi, of the advance of Rosecrans, and the defeat of Lee to declare his entire confidence in the ability of "the Confederacy" to maintain its cause. With the most airy humor the "Vice-President" said of Lee that that "great captain" had beaten the enemy upon their own soil, and was now ready to meet them "on a new field." The harder we are hit, says this encouraging leader, the more we shall succeed. And according to the gay logic of the "Vice-President," when every rebel port and city is in our hands, when the rebel armies are annihilated, and the rebel chiefs are flitting from one obscurity to another, the rebellion will triumph and "our independence" be finally secured.

Every man who wishes well to his country will hope that the Stephens view of the situation may prevail. The interest of permanent peace demands that the rebellion shall not abate a solitary pretense, for it is always easy to deal with gentlemen who will have the whole cake or none, and who are for the last ditch upon every opportunity. If the rebel leaders were less in earnest, if they despised their Northern tools less than they do, if they were not fanatics for slavery and enthusiasts for national degradation, there might be serious fear of political complications. The first rebel who cries "Let's surrender!" and can persuade his followers to listen, is the wisest man among them. But the chiefs are too vitally interested. Success has become a personal question with them; and even if they saw that in the exigency their best chance lay in submission and the demand of an amnesty, they know also that they must settle with their followers whom they have dragged through all the misery of the war.

Even if the original secession movement were intended as a coup d'etat, as many of its leaders believed it to be, it has long ago developed into a radical revolution. The Southern politicians, who have always prided themselves upon their superior sagacity, with which also they have been fully credited at the North, began by a stupendous and fatal blunder. They counted upon the indifference or actual co-operation of the majority at the North. But they found that there was no majority and no minority, for all were practically united upon the question of union. War was the necessary consequence; and the match that was intended to light a pipe was found to have kindled a city.

The rebellion is now beyond the hands of what are called its leaders. Davis and his body-guard of conspirators are as sternly criticised by the rebels as the President and his advisers. And even if Davis and his friends could come to an understanding with Seymour and Wood and Vallandigham to submit in order to save the party predominance of those gentlemen, and to secure by intrigue the result at which the rebellion has been aiming by force, they could treat only for themselves. For although they used to control their henchmen absolutely, they have now taught them how to disobey, and have put arms into their hands. So long as the rebel leaders and followers stand together upon Mr. Stephens's platform of "final and complete separation," we shall escape the disasters of political intrigue, which are infinitely greater than those of war, while a peace will be secured which will save years of battle and rivers of blood.


WILLIAM L. YANCEY is a man who will be known in our history as one of the most virulent but not one of the most able of the traitors who have conspired for the ruin of their country. He was born in South Carolina, but lived subsequently in Alabama, whither he removed after shooting his uncle. He was in Congress for several terms, and he put himself forward constantly as a leader, but he was never able to rise above the level of the typical pro-slavery politician, denouncing the "Yankees" as the source of all evils, and extolling "the South" as the parent of all excellence.

Mr. Yancey himself furnished an illustration of the absurdity of his own dogmas. Every society is truly prosperous because secure in the degree that it allows the most liberal discussion. In any truly free community whatever can not be debated ought not to be endured, because such a community is governed by public opinion, and without discussion public opinion is unenlightened. During the last Presidential canvass Mr. Yancey made a tour of the free States for the purpose of persuading the people that they had better not vote against the slaveholders upon pain of summary ruin. In States made prosperous and happy by a greater individual freedom than was ever known Mr. Yancey stood before the people to cajole and threaten them from the exercise of political rights. He was heard and endured, and sometimes applauded. But the fact that he was heard and was tolerated in free States while he advocated shivery, showed the infinitely higher political civilization of those States than that which Mr. Yancey advocated, and to which he was accustomed. To plead for liberty in those States would have cost the orator his life.

The baseness of his position was that, at the very moment he was speaking in what he called the interest of the Union, he was already a secret conspirator against it. Trained by slavery, political honor was unknown to him. He had already, two years before, written the letter in which he declared the plan by which he thought the cotton States could be "precipitated into revolution."

But although the "revolution" is in its third year, Mr. Yancey had achieved no more renown in it than he did before it began. He went to Europe as an emissary to make the thing look respectable, but soon returned disheartened. Since then he has been ex officio, as a "Senator," one of the ring-leaders of the rebellion. But his name was never heard. His influence has nowhere appeared. Like Toombs, Wigfall, Ellett, Spratt, Keitt, and Orr, his sole distinction is that he hated his country, because his country loved liberty.


THE general feeling of final success at Charleston is an indication of the progress of our education in war. When hostilities began what could not be done at once, and decisively, seemed to us unlikely to be done at all; and when the first effort failed, we were inclined to despond and to believe all efforts useless. But we have learned that war is a slow process, and General Grant has taught us that a sagacious soldier is helped by his failures. He tried Vicksburg in every way. His operations had lasted so long that the natural question was, how then can he do it? And his masterly method of success, although obvious if practicable, had not even seemed to be possible until it was proved.

Charleston has been an equally hard nut to (Next Page)




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