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Disturbances Which Were Called Riots In Earlier Times 1855

The Great New York Police Riot 1857 and The Five Points Riot of New York 1857
The Staten Island Riot: The Quarantine Conflagration September 2, 1858

The Staten Island Riot: The Quarantine War September 3, 1858

The Astor Place Riot 1859 and A Riot Among The Soldiers of the Third Regiment Irish Brigade 1861

Mob Excitement in Brooklyn 1861

The Draft Riot in New York City 1863 Part I: President Lincoln's Proclamations

The Draft Riot in New York City 1863 Part II: Bounties/Substitutes

The Draft Riot in New York City 1863 Part III: The New York Draft Riot

The Colored Orphan Asylum Riot 1863

The Orangemen Riot 1870-1871 and Near Riot at Tompkins Square 1877

Mob Attacks Meyer's Saloon 1893

Riot Preceded the Parade of Cloakmakers 1894

College Boys Cause A Riot and A Race Riot On The West Side of Manhattan 1900


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Alexander Jackson Davis, American architect. He was the founder in 1837 of the American Institute of Architects.



The Draft Riot In New York City 1863 Part II: Bounties/ Substitutes

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Newspapers again carried sections of classified advertising calling for substitutes. Two of twelve similar want ads in the New York Herald of October 29 read: "Three hundred and fifty dollars cash in hand paid for substitutes. $350. Call at 74 Cortland St. upstairs near West St. Barker and Spencer. $425. Substitutes wanted this day, for the country. The highest cash bounty
in the city will be paid down. Call early on Captain Flanagan room 22 Tammany Hall, opposite City Hall...

Now the matter of conscription was one wherein Congress had kept to itself certain very strict powers. The President could be a dictator in enforcement of the draft law, bust as to what that law provided--whether the commutation should be $300, $500, $1,000, or whether no man could buy exemption with money--Congress held the powers and the President was no dictator at all. He was limited to advising Congress what the draft law should say. And so, Executive Document No. 97 went to Congress.

The first item in this document had the signature of Abraham Lincoln, the date of June 8, 1864, the address " To the Senate and House of Representatives," and the text: "I have the honor to submit for the consideration of Congress a letter and enclosure from the Secretary of War,
with my concurrence in the recommendation therein made." The letter enclosed, signed by Stanton and addressed "To the President," recommended "a repeal of the clause in the enrollment act commonly known as the $300 clause."

Any drafted man could hire an able-bodied substitute, at a price arranged between himself and the substitute, a current market figure in the substitute market which had become wide and flourishing. Both the $300 bounty clause and the substitute clause would be struck out by the Schenck bill. To repeal the $300 clause and let the substitute clause stand would run the price of substitutes up beyond the reach of drafted men of limited means. "The truth is," said Congressman Schenck, "that so far as the $300 clause operates, it operates to the protection of men of limited means, and therefore I say that if you repeal it and go no further you leave them a right to complain that you run up substitutes in the market so as to make it impossible, for them to obtain substitutes and compel them to go.

And in place of the $300 clause which was absolutely repealed, a House and Senate conference bill, the act of July 4, 1864, provided that the President had authority to call for volunteers for one, two, or three years, the one-year men to be paid $100 bounty, the two-year men $200, the three-year men $300, each receiving the final one-third installment of his bounty on completion of service.

With the $300 clause done away with, any man drafted must either go into the army himself or pay someone else to go for him. Such a substitute had to be either an alien, a veteran of two years' service, or a boy under twenty. Hustlers in the business of finding substitutes and selling them to those who wished to buy-- hustlers came forward. "Wanted. Irishmen, Englishmen, Scotchmen, Germans, Frenchmen, to enlist as volunteers." Thus one amid columns of similar ads, paid for at regular rates, in the New York Herald.

"Who wants a one-year substitute for eight hundred dollars?" Thus another also paid for at regular rates. "Forty-one were furnished by us on Monday," ran another. "Thirty-four more are wanted at the same price, nine hundred and fifty dollars each." Only four days after the President's proclamation one New York Herald ad made the appeal: "It is clearly to the interest of every man liable to military duty to procure an alien substitute at once and save dollars, cents and worry. The price of substitutes will soon reach $1,200, because of the great bounties that will be offered by cities, towns and States."

Prices for substitutes were boosted so high that a Supervisors' Committee in New York City publicly took steps to help those who desired at a low and reasonable rate to make their purchases. By entering their names in a book and paying $335 the committee would serve them, the $300 being for the substitute, the $35 for the person bringing the substitute. In Philadelphia, the Citizens' Volunteer Substitute Committee opened an exchange, received applications from those seeking substitutes, urged aliens and veterans to enlist as substitutes, offered $650 over and above the government bounty and charged no commission nor brokerage.

Six hundred dollars cash paid for substitutes," ran one of many ads in newspapers of Cincinnati, where on August 20 prices went to $1,200 and $1,500 for substitutes.

The draft marched on. But not in the one large city most hostile to Lincoln, not where draft and race riots the year before had for three days overthrown the Government, not in New York City. Harper's Weekly put it briefly: "The War Department has credited New York City with 18,448 men enlisted in the navy from April 15, 1861, to February 24,1864. There was a surplus over the last draft of 1,137. This surplus, together amounts to 22,010. The quota of the city is 23,124, leaving a balance in favor of the Government of 1,114 men. There will therefore be no
draft in this city." In other words, if a boy from Ohio or Iowa became a gunner or seaman on a warship, the enlistment was credited to the quota of New York City if that was where he signed the papers.

"The large sums offered in some places in the competition for men have demoralized many of the people, and the most atrocious frauds connected with the system have become common. The men of some of the poorer counties have been nearly exhausted by their volunteers being credited to richer counties which paid higher bounties. Of the number of men to whom bounties have been paid, it is believed that not one-fourth have been actually placed in the ranks of the army, and even those who have joined it have probably not, on an average, received for their own use one-half of the bounty paid for them." One decision of the State supreme court had held the draft law unconstitutional. Then a changed court had reversed the decision.

When a Pennsylvania boy in a poor county enlisted as a substitute, taking the bounty paid him by a man in a rich county, the boy was credited as from the rich county. And the poor county to maintain its quota had to dig up someone else for the army.

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