The New York Draft Riots

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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 U...

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...nvolved in the riot but did not include any details about the American rioter’s religions or ethnicities. This is notable because it could cause a specific group to be targeted while the general reference to the Americans causes them to pass through the audience’s radar. In the article titled Ireland in America the author draws attention to the large number of immigrants arriving from politically and socially troubled “foreign lands” are “thrown among us.” His use of language shows some concern for the large number of Irish immigrants arriving in New York City. However, the writer shows sympathy for the hardships that the Irish have encountered in their homeland and states that the Irish immigrated to avoid the “jaws of famine.” 7 His tone is optimistic that the Irish will “grow up with the vigorous and fruitful American tree” and be productive members of society.

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