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tv   Lectures in History 1863 New York City Draft Riots  CSPAN  October 12, 2021 5:17pm-5:54pm EDT

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to keep you ahead. >> mediacom supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> follow american history tv on twitter, facebook and youtube for schedule updates to learn about what happened this day in history. watch videos and learn more about the people and events that have shaped the american story. find us at c-span history. city university of new york professor in mareitous joshua brown teaches about the 1863 draft. >> in the middle of the civil war thousands of poor and working class white new yorkers incensed by inecwetties in the new military draft resentual about wartime hardship and inflamed by the lincoln administration's emancipation
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policies looted and destroyed buildings, battled police, state militia and federal troops and brutally attacked the city's african-american residents. in the century and a half since the new york city draft riots, the popular pooks and articles have narrated and examined the significance of the ivents that compromise the largest civil insurrection in u.s. history. and most of these works have included illustrations of the violence that were published in its immediate aftermath in the weekly pick toral newspapers. certainly they have not served as evidence to be evaluated in their own right. eight illustrated newspapers
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covered the riots. the three american pictoral weeklies were supplemented by three british pictorals. in all some 80 engravings of varying sizes, detail and quality depicted the unprecedented events. when these are considered together with the newspaper's editorial cartoons and portraits along with cartoons in the human magazine's published in the u.s. and abroad as well as sprs latly published prints, illustrations, unpublished sketches and two photographs, the number of riot images expands enormously. their quantity and the international nature of contemporary pictoral news
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coverage allows us to consider the engagement and informed evaluation of such visual evidence. the destruction of the society on fifth avenue just north of the croton reservoir where the new york public library is now located late on the afternoon of july 13th is one of three riot events that received the most attention in the american pictoral press. whatever tensions existed between its white benefactors and the city's black community, it was recognized as a prominent, benevolent reform institution dedicated to assisting the cities and
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impoverished -- and the asylum became the target of the largely irish working class crowd numberering in the thousands that invaded, ransacked and then burned it down. occurring on the first day of the riot the burning of the asylum were among the predominant subjects of print and pictoral news coverage. at eight years the oldest of the three weekly u.s. pictorals depicted 13 scenes and to a lesser extent july 14th, the first two days of the riot. since the papers were dated by the last days of week of their publication, these images may have actually reached the public as early as july 18th, only five
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days after the violence began. publication in such proximity to the events required intensive labor and haste, entailing shortcuts that deliver the news in a timely fashion, but at some cost to clarity and detail. so the engraving as it's called burning of the orphan asylum along with issues of other illustrations was noticeably crude in an execution although specific as to place, showing the crowd ranging along the 44th street side to the burning building. the new york illustrated news, the newest and least solvent also rush out images of the riots within days of the on set of violence such as this one called pillaging of the orphan asylum. like those and leslie's these images lack clarity and they also are visually vague regarding context.
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despite the murkiness of these illustrations, both renditions of the attack on the colored orphan asylum featured one significant detail of the event, the number of women who were reported at the scene and their looting of furniture, bedding and other possessions. in contrast the pillaging women as they were described in both newspapers were reduced to one prominent and a few hazy figtures in the burning and sacking of the color orphan society published a week later. while the three american weeklies made a point of crediting in print their special artists who covered the civil war's military campaigns, no new york based artist was identify said as the source of the draft writing pictures. frank lez lei had learned after his paper broke the so-called
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swill milk scandal which involved children who drank milk from cows fed tainted feed only exposed them to lawsuits or physical harm. hazards that would be surely compounded in the context of rioting and its aftermath. harpress weekly introduced in 1857 did not credit the 22-year-old thomas nass as the source of several of its illustrations. we know however he returned to the city july 12th from a frustrated effort to cover the battle of gettysburg. and years later he told his biographer that he had witnessed and sketched some of the violent events. if any of the 11 harpers engravingings of the riot was based on his work, it was the
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full page illustration of the burning asylum featured in the august 1st issue. nass knew the asylum very well. with an additional week for publication and for production for publication, the dramatic and detail captures the scale and was more evocative of the event than the pictures of leslies and the illustrated news. its delineation of the rioters and victims and the narrative it conveyed, however, was less reliable. in accordance with the story telling the picture book compressed and extended the narrative of the event into one image. but aside from the very few women shown among rioters and spectators in the foreground, the engraving presumably based on nass' sketch also portrayed
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scattered attacks on african-american children fleeing the building. the young wards escaped via a side entrance where they were threatened by the crowd but not physically attacked. whatever the quality of the illustrations americans were able to view pictoral coverage. both drawings and engravings of the riots published in the u.s. press took from one to two weeks to reach british and european publishers and readers. the venerable parisian weekly therefore did not publish -- the pictures including one depicting the attack on the asylum was clearly derived from frank
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leslie's special supplement, despite there being ascribed today an artist identified cryptically as monsieur w. s. the asylum appeared in the second of two consecutive weeks of riot coverage also peopled inspired by leslie's even more, however, the london news engraving was finally observed. and when compared to contemporary new york fire insurance maps appears true to the physical structure and dimensions of the asylum's 44th street side. the illustrated london news possessed resources that its british, french and german competitors lacked. the london paper dispatched its
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senior special artist to report on the american war in 1861. but by 1862 he had become a dedicated chronicler not to mention supporter of the confederacy. and the content of london news illustrations accordingly was determined by his correspondence, movement about the southern front and home front. but the north especially new york was not neglected. thanks to the british papers being a long establishment of the city based artist correspondence. prominent among them was charles dawson shanly who was credited as the sketch artist of four
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1864 illustrations. he certainly needed the work as of july 4, 1863, following the collapse of the vanity fair for which shanty had served as editor. in the 1850s and 1860s it was common for artists to produce more than one version of a sketch to accommodate two different clients especially if they were separated by an ocean. finally another launched the same year as harpers weekly did not copy others or purchase sketches. its full page august 16th depiction as it's called the insurgents burning the asylum replete in the barricade of the
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foreground and inaccurate gothic revival building looming in the back could be mistaken for a scene -- in keeping with the french weekly's other images of the american civil war it illustrates visualizations of european iconography and vivid illustrations. we've had no less than seven artists on the spot transferring chief events, all sketches are real not imaginary affairs. persons acquainted with the localities will attest the accuracy of the sketches. these sketches were not made
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without risk and often obtained only by great ingenuity, the mob looking intolerantly on such use of pencil and paper. some of the backgrounds of its riot pictures were indeed obscure, and leslie and the illustrated news were always challenging one another about whether their news images were actually derived from direct observation. keep in mind the artist eyewitness sketch was but the first step involving intervening office artists, editors and supervisors and teams of engravers to quickly produce and disseminate pictoral news to the public. essentially the were of this artist was extent drawings
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mainly battleground sketches represented that aspect in their apenlded notes regarding the rendering of floral, fauna lan scape, dress equipment and the numbers and dispositions of figures. but with no surviving original draft riot sketches to go by, can we assume the illustrations in at least the new york based weeklies and the london illustrated news were to use a slippery phrase were authentic. as fellow practitioners of a new trade, a small coterie of artists featured by the new york pictoral press nee each other very well. the preponderance of illustrations of certain riot events and the differing points of view displayed in those
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pictures of shared subjects suggests that artists followed the rioters together and often sketched in proximity to one another. there being marginal safety in numbers. in short little separated the job of drawing battles on the homefront from that of drawing battles on the warfront. to be sure ascertaining the original sketch's authenticity and eyewitness status does not make them either reliable or unreliable as evidence. but clarifying some of the conditions of these images production helps us to discern and distinguish documentation from interpretation. and to look through mid-19th century eyes to try to capture a more complex notion of the viewing experience in the past. in short it helps us to begin to
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answer these questions, what do these pictures tell or how were they read by their viewers in the summer of 1863, and what can they tell historians 158 years later? the crowd that gathered outside the ninth district on third avenue and 46th street on the morning of monday, july 13th as the draft lottery was resumed after a deceptive sunday lull also attracted at least three newspaper special artists. the attack on and burning of the draft artist with the fire quickly spreading to adjacent buildings and across 46th street initiated the violence. some of the engravings displayed the aftermath of a smoldering remains of the buildings. but artists for the leslies, illustrated news and illustrated london news depicted the on set
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of the destruction. in keeping with the practice of their battlefront colleagues they evidently tried to find the best and safest vantage point from which to sketch the scene. on this case from the western fringe of the crowd. that location provided three different perspectives, a rickety wooden shanty several repudiated ring leaders climbed to support the crowd. three offered different views of the event and especially of its location on the outskirts of the city for which we have little visual elements and certainly no photographs to otherwise gauge its appearance. another piece of corroborating evidence is an 1868 painting now in the collection of the new york historical society by the
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new jersey artist entitled give us this day our daily bread. the painting presents a vast cluttered scene of construction and excavation from the westward vantage point of a rear window of a house near third avenue. the painting shows the strange, incomplete mosaic of new york's post-war housing boom with isolated buildings and lonely telegraph poles dotting a landscape dominated by vacant lots. this scene assumes additional significance when juxtapose today the 1863 riot engravings. the perspective of mario's painting is from a spot one or two lots south of the location of the building where the draft office was housed. in other words, it offers the reverse view of the panoramic
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illustrated london news engraving which looked east towards second avenue. in effect, the painting completed five years later is a draft riot scene chronicling the replacement of buildings. new york's working class district were also unfamiliar to most readers of the pictoral press with the exception of the five points. so for readers in 1863 and for scholars today, the illustrated london news engraving called the conflict between the military and rioters and first to avenue was unusual in depicting an irish working class neighborhood controlled and defended by the rioters and the unsuccessful attempt by volunteers on the afternoon of wednesday, july 15th. rioters had established around
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such territories. the specificity of the location, the block between 18th and 19th streets along first avenue, the relative inobscurity despite the numerous casualties of the event at the time and the absence of coverage of the incident in any pictoral paper other than the london news suggests this illustration recorded the actual scene detailing the appearance of a particular place with some data as with battlefront artists. so rather than serving as a generic symbol of depravity the liquor store in the left background could be the corner establishment, quote, from the villainous looking customers up state visitor leonard described in her 1868 monthly article called "three days of terror"
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her account of a time she spent on an upper floor apartment. the illustrations of the riot crowd itself may have conveyed more evidence to alert contemporary readers that it's immediately apparent. the visual markers of ethnicity were ubiquitous in the riot pictures. the pictoral typing having grown familiar to readers after three decades of cartoons, prints, reform tracks and city views. but finer distinctions of class positions within could also be found in some of the illustrated press coverage in keeping with a convention that would characterize the practice of the illustrated press for some years these visual distinctions were not necessarily noted in the textual discriptions that
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accompanied the engravings. their appearance spoke for themselves. along the new york pictoral papers the new york illustrated news published a number of pictures of the riot, extending its visual coverage all the way to august 29th. it also offered the most brutish and brutal images of the rioters. but facial and sematic signs of one of the people quote to have sketched from life, some of these displays as they put it of celtic physiology would be in the american journal to support its findings.
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the craneious, quote, moral, intellectual and speerl regions were sadly deficient. continuing the quote, that heads were houses of only one story and that a basement. almost every illustrated news engraving depicted very little variation among rioters, whether male or female. that uniformity perhaps due to the antipathy of the irish toward the publisher of the british immigrate thomas legit, the rioters in harpers weekly illustration shared physical traits as did the frequently wasted metropolitan police. there were differences in appearance that drew attention among the rioters that were
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reported in the daily press. a scene showed ragged women and children around the body of a dead sergeant. these align with the depravity of their acts, their behavior and look merging into the ensemble that denoted rioting women in general as bad, as unsexed and as amazons. the link between these womens appearance and immorality was surely not lost on the largely republican readership. but their rags and alien features also designated them as the most destitute and usually least physical of the city's immigrant poor. in stark contrast to depictions of working class rioters and rioting women in other images. the second installment of riot illustrations in frankliesly provided readers with more distinctions among the rioters.
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amid a double page spread of engravings in the august 1st issue, two pictures in leslie's description, quote, represent groups of rioters giving an idea of the parties concern. implicit in that phrase was that the idea of the party's concern was readily apparent to the weekly's readership and required no further elaboration. these images also contain specific information that offers insight into the crinology of the formation and early composition of the riot crowd. in particular a group of rioters marching down avenue a including on the left a laborer and on the right perhaps a veteran of an earlier campaign or volunteer.
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as post war testimony indicates what was considered in many skill trades, correct attire to be for demonstrations. this illustration may represent the first phase before it deteriorated into violence, when the primary goal of many protesters and certainly of trade unionists was to stop the draft by enforcing a general strike. such figures soon abandoned the protest in some some cases actively opposed the rioters. finally, what did contemporary readers white and black include from the engravings of the widespread attacks, mutilations perpetrated? in addition to the extensive coverage of the destruction of the asylum 11 engravings out of 80 illustrations of riot events
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focused on such violence. among the most shocking and widely reported was the torture, lynching and emulation of cartman william jones on clarkson and hudson streets near manhattan's west side waterfront on monday, july 13th. the many portrayals of the texts recalled and seemed to reitiate the iconography of the ant bellum anti-slavery movement using the images of the exploitation, sale and abuse of powerless enslaved african-americans. but despite the pictoral press' previous representation of slavery, abolition and emancipation, the meaning of shocking and sensational riot images had undergone a shift by the middle of 1863. for readers of frank leslie's harpers weekly and the
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illustrated news, the visualization of the riot and its african-american victims was entwined in the changing context of the war and a corresponding alteration. thus readers came upon the july violence having recently seen in frank leslie's heroic images of the assault by black regiments of the louisiana native guards. a week later in the july 4th harpers weekly they viewed black troops in the battle of the bend mississippi. during the following week pictures of the pennsylvania blacks mobilizing to defend the north from robert e. lee's invading confederate forces and a scene of stalwart african-american new york volunteers heading to a
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recruitment office were prominently displayed as full page images. the latter engraving was all the more striking in light of the incendiary pictoral report following the emancipation proclamation in january showing affluent black new yorkers commandeering the sidewalks. the cover of the august 15th issue of the new york illustrated news presented the captor of a confederate lieutenant during a skirmish near buford, south carolina.
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the pictoral coverage of the july 1863 draft riots examples many of the capacities and limitations in what was a new form of journalism. the illustrated press were reported, established and legitimacy as a news source and confirmed its viability. the war also served as a testing ground for devising the definitive methods as well as presenting pictoral news it would use until the 1890s. the resulting coverage provided contemporary readers with visual data that detailed the participants in and settings of events as they also dramatically portrayed their progression and critical moments. these time bound qualities also
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offer latter day viewers information about the appearances and conditions of people and places that were otherwise incompetely depicted and often entirely omitted in mid-19th century photography as well as in texual accounts at the time. in the face of its -- of the experiences, contichancies and fortunes of a long bitter war, these representing often dramatic shifts. convections and methods for depicting warfare changed, visions of orderly combat were replaced by chaotic fighting and twisted corpses. it changed in 1863 in the coverage of enslaved and free african-americans. influenced by the actions of black soldiers in pursuit of
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union victory, the pictoral press with increased enthusiasm illustrated their contributions. in turn those pictures helped change northern opinion about the role and place of black the. while never fully relinquishing signs or difference, the armed and active black soldier took precedence as longstanding figures of the helpless antebellum slave, the early war, undisciplined former slave and the child contraband lost action and that new context, the emphasis on the racial violence that the draft riots was akin to the outraged illustrated press coverage of the massacres of black troops such as the infamous confederate slaughter of fort pillar, tennessee, in 1864. the new york african-american
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residents during the draft riots as represented in the nation's pictorial press had achieved a new, terrible status. in a conflict in which they had come to be predominantly portrayed as champions of the union and a significant part of the alliance to end slavery, they were no longer simply innocent bystanders, but they were now casualties of war. in 2017, american history tv toured the new smithsonian of african-american history and culture in washington, d.c. here's a look at one of their exhibits. >> we are fortunate enough that we were able to receive a call from the island historic preservation society that wanted to donate a slave cabin to our museum. they knew that we were looking for a slave cabin to really help tell the story in a powerful way, fortunately, they had one
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from a plantation located in south carolina. what is powerful about this cabin is on the front side we actually interpret it looking at slavery. on the back side we interpret it looking at freedom, because, in fact, on edestill union, that is where the army camped out during the civil war and you see where the land is given to the african-american community and taken away several times until it was taken away for good. let's talk about the interpretation with slavery. notice the cabin behind me. what is important, not only were people locked up animals at night that worked in fields not unlike the enslaved men, women and children. this really could be considered a pen, but african-american men, women and children, again, through resistance and resilience and holding on to their humanity found ways to love one another, to practice their faith, to grow gardens on the side of their cabins to supplement their diets and to
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create new, cultural practices. >> watch the full tour online at did you know that all of c-span's american history programs are available to watch online? go to and type in your topic of interest in the search box. thousands of programs looking at the people that shaped our nation. all available online at next on american history tv it's time for lectures in history. this week, indiana university bloomington professor stephen andrews teaches a class on conspiracy culture in american history. >> thank you guys so much. i have been -- this is my second year and i'd like to thank everyone at the 9/11 museum. they are fantastic, as you all know, so easy to work with and gilda is fantastic and the entire staff is


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