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The Great New York Police Riot 1857 And The Five Points Riot Of New York 1857

1IN THE 1850's, upset by the extent of Mayor Fernando Wood's control over the city and the corruption in the New York City Municipal Police Force,  the New York State Legislature - hardly less corrupt, but never loath to do the metropolis a bad turn - passed an act forming the Metropolitan Police Force, to cover not only New York City, but also several adjacent communities, including Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Williamsburg. 

The legislature then ordered the dissolution of the Municipals. Mayor Wood refused to break up the Municipals, and took the matter to court. Early in 1857 the State Supreme Court - which is the lowest state court in New York, but that's another matter - ruled that the legislature had been within its constitutional rights in forming the Metropolitans and in ordering the dissolution of the Municipals. Mayor Wood continued to resist, and the matter went up to the Court of Appeals, the next highest court in the state.

Meanwhile, of course, during the Spring of 1857, New York City was "blessed" with two police forces, the Municipals, under the mayor's jurisdiction and confined to the city limits, and the Metropolitans, under the state's authority, and extending over the city and several nearby communities. The results were predictable. Friction soon developed between the rival police forces. On June 14, 1857, The New-York Times reported that members of the Metropolitan Police Force had arrested a man for disorderly conduct on East 9th Street, but that he had been immediately seized by a member of the Municipal Police Force. A group of the Metropolitans promptly "remonstrated" with the Municipal, and soon regained custody of the miscreant, in the process arresting the Municipal and another city officer who had attempted to come to his assistance. Later that day, a mob of Municipals gathered around the Metropolitan Police Station on East 6th Street. For a rowdy demonstration. The next day was quite. But on the 16th things grew more serious.

On the 15th, the state-appointed police commission ordered the arrest of Mayor Wood, on the grounds that he had not complied with the legislative mandate to disband the Municipals. The next day, the Metropolitans attempted to arrest the mayor at City Hall, defended by scores of Municipals, who had hastily fortified the building. In the ensuing melee, officers on both sides wielded truncheons, fists, and pieces of furniture, though surprisingly refraining from shooting each other. The outcome was that the Municipals repulsed the Metropolitans.

On the 18th, the Metropolitans returned, heavily reinforced, to storm City Hall. During the ensuing fight, as a jeering throng of "roughs" joined in the fray, shouting their support for Mayor Wood. Things looked bad for the Metropolitans when the militia showed up, ordered into action by the governor. Led by the famed 7th New York - the National Guard - the militiamen routed the defenders, permitting the arrest of the mayor, though not before about 50 officers were injured.

The forces between the two police forces continued to feud, but order was restored after the State Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the Supreme Court on July 2, 1857. With the militia supporting the state legislature, Mayor Wood had no choice but to disband the Municipals, a measure made more palatable to the officers in question by their acceptance into the Metropolitans.

2 The Five Points Riot of New York 1857

In 1857, New York City's native-born elite used the Republican-controlled New York State Assembly to try to oust Mayor Wood and force genteel behavior on the Irish working poor. Their efforts led to the Five Points riot of 1857.

The State Assembly passed two laws in April 1857. The first law disbanded the New York City police department, a Tammany stronghold. To take police power away from Mayor Wood, the Assembly created a new unit, the Metropolitan Police, which would answer only to the Assembly.

The Metropolitan Police was also created to enforce the Assembly's second law, which reduced the number of licensed saloons in the city, limited the amount a person could drink, and closed all saloons on Sundays.

Many Irish working people saw these laws as a direct attack on their way of life. Some Five Points residents decided to resist. On Sunday, July 4th, the first day the laws took effect, Five Pointers celebrated Independence Day with saloons open and full, as was traditional. When the Metropolitan Police tried to enter the neighborhood, the Five Points riot began.

The July 4th riot began with fists and rocks and escalated to include clubs and guns. On one side there was the Irish of the Five Points, led by a gang of young working men known as the "Dead Rabbits." On the other side was the Metropolitan Police and a gang of native-born working men called the "Bowery Boys." After hours of battling, which left scores injured and twelve dead, the fighting slowly subsided.

 


Article Information:
Article Name:The Great New York Police Riot 1857 and The Five Points Riot of New York 1857
Website: http:www.thehistorybox.com |Author: The Strategy Page and the American Social History Project  
Source:  BIBLIOGRAPHY. Source of Article in its entirety: 1 The Strategy Page     American Social History Project
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