To the Editor of the New-York Times: You will, no doubt, be hard on us rioters tomorrow morning, but that 300-dollar law has made us nobodies, vagabonds and cast-outs of society, for whom nobody cares when we must go to war and be shot down. We are the poor rabble, and the rich rabble is our enemy by this law. Therefore we will give our enemy battle right here, and ask no quarter. Although we got hard fists, and are dirty without, we have soft hearts, and have clean consciences within, and that’s the reason we love our wives and children more than the rich, because we’ve got ot not much besides them, and we will not go and leave them at home for to starve.
A [illegible] MAN, BUT A MAN FOR ALL THAT
This week marks the 150th anniversary of the New York City Draft Riots, a violent four-day period in which low-income city residents (mostly Irish immigrants and their American-born family members) protested a key provision of the Civil War draft law that would allow men who could afford it to pay a sum of $300 instead of becoming Union soldiers.
Much of the hostility was directed at the city’s African-American community—at least 100 African-Americans were killed, and churches, orphanages, and countless homes were burned to the ground. After the riots were officially declared over, much of the African-American population abandoned Five Points and other parts of Lower Manhattan (where most of the rioting had centered) for Brooklyn and Upper Manhattan, radically altering the demographics of New York.
Image: A scene from the riots, published in Harper’s Weekly