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tv   Lectures in History 1863 New York City Draft Riots  CSPAN  November 11, 2021 7:18pm-7:53pm EST

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didn't follow the cycle of previous ones. and called for something more than a type of direct material aid that tammany was able to provide before the depression. i will see well on thursday.
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up next, another class from our series lectures in history. >> from july 13th to 16th, 1863, in the middle of the civil war, thousands of poor and working class white new yorkers, incensed by inequities in the new military draft, resentful about wartime hardship and inflamed by the lincoln administration's emancipation policies, looted and destroyed buildings, battled state police and militia, and federal troops, and brutal brutally attacked the cities african americans. in the centrally and a half since, numerous scholarly monograph and articles are now rated and examined the significance of events, that comprise the largest civil insurrection in u.s. history. most of these works have included illustrations of the
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violence that were published in the immediate aftermath in the weekly pictorial newspapers. none of these many meticulous and illuminating study studies or popular counts have used these images as much more than an endorsement for or reiteration of their texts. certainly they have not served as evidence in their own right. eight illustrated newspapers cover the riots. the three american pictorial weeklies all published in new york, dominated pictorial coverage. there were supplemented by three british pictorial papers and two french publications. in all, some 80 engravings depicted the unprecedented events. when these are considered together with the newspapers. and editorial cartoons and
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portraits, along with those in the humor magazines in the u.s. and abroad, as well as separately published prints and broad sides, unpublished sketches and two photographs, the number of riot images expands enormously. the quantity and the international nature of contemporary pictorial news coverage of the riots present us with an opportunity to consider what historians may gain from critical engagements with an informed evaluation of such a visual evidence. the destruction of the orphans asylum on fifth avenue, just north of the reservoir where the new york public library is now located, was one of three ride events that receive the most attention in the american and european pictorial press. built in 1843, by the
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association for the benefit of orphans, the building, with its generous rounds, occupied a block from 34th street facing fifth avenue. whatever tensions existed between the white van effectors and the african american community in the city, it was -- assisting black, impoverished residents. the asylum became the target of a largely irish working class -- , numbering in the thousands, that invaded it and burned down. occurring on the first day of the riot, the burning of the asylum was among the predominant subjects of print and pictorial news coverage. the july 25th issue of frank leslie's newspaper, the oldest
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of the three pictorial's, included a special double page supplement depicting 13 scenes during july 13th and july 14th, monday and tuesday, the first two days of the riots. since the papers are dated by the last day of the week of the publication, these images may have actually reached the public as early as july 18th, only five days after the riots began. publication in such proximity to the events required intensive labor and haste, and tailing shortcuts that deliver the news in a timely fashion. but at some cost to clarity and detail. so the engraving, called, burning of the -- orphans asylum, along with the other illustrations, was noticeably crude in execution,
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although specific -- took place. it showed the crowd alongside the burning building. the new york illustrated news, the newest and least solvent weekly, also rushed out images of the riots within days of the onset of the violence, such as this one, called, pillaging of the orphans asylum. these images lack clarity and they also are visually vague, regarding context. despite the murkiness of these illustrations, both renditions of the attack on the asylum feature one significant event. the number of women reported at the scene who are looting furniture, bedding and other possessions. in contrast, women were reduced to a few hazy figures in the
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'harper's weekly'engraving of the sacking of the orphans asylum, published a week later in its august 1st issue. while the three american pictorial weeklies made a point of crediting the artists who covered the civil war military campaigns, no new york-based artist was identified as the source for the left right picture. frank leslie had learned after his paper broke the so-called swill milk scandal in 1858, which involve the death of children who drank milk from cows fed tainted seed, the circumstances only expose them to lawsuits or physical harm. these were hazards that would surely be heightened in the context of a riot. "harper's weekly" introduced in 1857 and once the most republican of the weeklies, did not credit the 22 year old
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thomas nast as the source of several of its illustrations. we know, however, that he returned to the city on july 12th from a frustrated effort to cover the battle of gettysburg. years later, he told his biographer that he had witnessed and sketched some of the violent events. in any of the 11 harpers engravings are based on the work of thomas nast, it is the full page illustration of the burning asylum, featured in the august 1st issue. nasty view the asylum well, having lived on west 84th street until 1862. the dramatic and detailed illustrations captured the scale of the asylum and was more evocative of the events then in leslie's and the
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illustrated news. it depicts a narrative that is less reliable, however, in accordance with the storytelling strategies of news engraver's, the picture both compressed and extend the narrative of the events. but aside from the very few women shown among riders. and spectators in the foreground, the engraving presumably based on that sketch also portrayed scattered attacks on african american children fleeing the burning building. there were 233 young wards, escaped by a side entrance, where they were threatened by a crowd but not physically attacked. whatever the quality of the illustrations, americans were able to view pictorial coverage of the riots in several days of their end. they intended with the barrier of the atlantic ocean, both
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drawings engravings published in the u.s. press, took from one to two weeks to reach european publishers and readers. the venerable parisian weekly, illustration, did not cover the riots until it's august 15th issue. although better engraved american counterparts, the pictures included one with an attack on the asylum, clearly derived from frank leslie's special supplement, despite being ascribe to an artist who is identified as mr. w.s.. the london news has uncrowded engravings of the asylum which appear in the two consecutive weeks of riot coverage, these also same inspired by leslie. more so than illustration,
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however, the london news was finally observed. and when compared to contemporary new york, appears faithful to the structures. the first succeeding american pictorial papers, the british press had resources that it's french and german competitors lacked. the british paper had a senior artist that reported on the american war in 1861, but by 1862, the artist had become a dedicated chronicler, not to mention supporter, of the confederacy. the content of london news illustrations was determined by its correspondence, and movement about the southern home front.
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but new york was not neglected. thanks to the british papers long being established as a city based correspondent, -- among them was charles dawson, credited as the sketch artist of several 1864 illustrations. in light of subsequent work, he is a strong contender for the artist of the sketches. from 1863, following the collapse of the humor weekly, for which shanley had served as editor -- as for the similarity between the leslie and london news illustration, in the 1850s and 1860's, it was common for artists to produce more than one version of a sketch to
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accommodate two different clients, especially if separated by notion. finally, illustrate, did not have sketches that were the basis for other publications or engraving. it's full page depiction from august 15th of the insurgents burning the orphan asylum, has inaccurate got accra viable buildings looming in the back, but could be mistaken for parisian seen during the 1848 revolution, but for the one vineyard of racial violence tucked into its right hand corner. keeping with the french weekly of other images of the american civil war, the illustrations often involve a mash-up of european iconography and vivid imagination.
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during these riots, frank leslie's illustrated newspaper assured its readers in its august 1st issue, we have had no less than seven artists on the spot, transferring with graphic skill the chief of events. our sketches are all real, not your imaginary offers with obscure backgrounds which will do for any scene. cene.persons acquainted with the localities will attest to the accuracy of the sketch. the sketches were not made without risk and often obtained only by great ingenuity, the mob looking intolerably on such use of pencil and paper. some special pleading was no doubt present in lies these claims, because some background images features were indeed secure obscure. and leslie was challenged often about whether the news images
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were actually drive from correct observation. keep in mind that the artist eyewitness sketches had an industrialized and fractured labor process, -- editors and supervisors and teams of engraver's to quickly produce and disseminate pictorial news to the public. but essentially, the work of these artists was reportorial. the engravings demonstrate this aspect, regarding the rendering of flora, landscape, dress, equipment and the numbers in this positions of figures. but with no surviving original draft riots sketches to go by, can we assume the illustrations, in at least new york based weeklies on the london illustrated news we're, tease
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that slippery phrase, authentic? as fellow male practitioners of a new trade, a small coterie of artists employed by the new york press, they knew one another well, and they often move back and forth between publications. the special artists small professional worlds, the preponderance of illustrations of certain events, and the differing points of view displayed in those pictures of shared suspects suggest that orders followed rioters together in helping a sketch be conveyed from one another. -- join battles on the home front to battles on the war front. to be sure, ascertaining the original sketches authenticity and eyewitness sense does not make them either reliable or
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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 answer the questions, what did these pictures tell or how were they read by the 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 46 degrees 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 orders. the attack on and burning of
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the draft office, which required quickly spreading to -- initiated the violence and also is the most illustrated of any ride events. somewhat display the aftermath of smoldering remains of the buildings. but artists of the illustrated london news depicted the onset of the destruction. in keeping with the practice of their battle fronts, they evidently tried to find the best and relatively safest vantage point from which to sketch the scene. in this case, on the western fringe of the crowd, that location provided three different perspectives of a butcher shop across the avenue from the draft office building, a rickety wooden shanty upon which several reputed ringleaders climbed to exhort the crowd. the three subsequently
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published engravings offer different views of the events, and especially of its location on the outskirts of the bill city, for which we have little other visual evidence. and certainly no photographs. to otherwise gauge's appearance. another piece of corroborating evidence about these views is an 1868 painting now in the collection of the new york historical society, done by the new jersey artist, alexandra mario, entitled, give us this day our daily bread. the painting presents a vast scene of construction and excavation from the westward vantage point of a rear window at a house by third avenue. the painting shows the strange, incomplete mosaic of new york's postwar housing boom, with isolated buildings and telegraph poles, dominating by
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vacant lots. this scene assumes additional significance when juxtaposed to the 1863 right engravings. the perspective of mary was painting is from a spot one or two south of the building and where the draft office was held. in other words, it offers the reverse view of the news engraving, which looked east towards second avenue. in effect, the painting completed five years later, is a draft riot scene. it chronicles the -- four days of unprecedented violence. new york's working class districts also were unfamiliar to most readers of the pictorial press, with the exception of an area in lower
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manhattan. so readers in 1863 and four scholars today, the illustrated, and first avenue was unusual in depicting irish working class neighborhoods control and defended by the rioters, and troops on the afternoon of wednesday, july 16th, to break the cordon sanitaire riders had established. -- along forced avenue. despite its numerous casualties of the event at the time. and the absence of coverage of any paper other than the london illustrated news, suggest that this records and actual scene detailing a particular place with some data, as with battlefront artists, likely
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gathered at the edge of the process. so rather than serving as a generic symbol of depravity, the liquor store in the left background could be the corner establishment, tried with villainous looking customers, of the upstate visitor, that were described in the harper's monthly article, and an account of the time she spent in an apartment at a nearby cross street between first and second avenue, quote, on the very edge of one of the infected districts, unquote. the illustrations of the riot crowd itself may have conveyed more evidence to alert contemporary readers then is immediately apparent. the visual markers of ethnicity were ambiguous, in the riot pictures. the pictorial typing of the irish catholicism having grown familiar to readers after three decades of cartoons,
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prince, reform tracks and city views. but finer distinctions of class position within ethnicity could also be found in some of the illustrated press coverage, in keeping a convention that would have characterized the practice for some 30 years. these visual distinctions were not necessarily noted in the textural descriptions that accompanied the engravings. the reappearance spoke for themselves, among the new york pictorial papers, the new york illustrated news published the largest number of pictures of the riot. extending its visual coverage all the way to its august 29th issue. the it also offered the most brutal images of the rioters and their deprivations. the facial instamatic signs of irish catholicism, sections of blunt
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features of some of the people, said to have been, quote, sketched from life, ran throughout the illustrated news coverage. some of these displays, as they put it, held the physiognomy, we printed in 1863, as illustrations in the american phrenological to support finding supposedly based on postmortem examinations of the riders. their moral and spiritual allegiance elements were sadly deficient, the chronicle reported. the heads of the rioters were heads of only one story and all basement. they were depicted with very little variation, whether male or female. that uniformity perhaps reflected the antipathy toward
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the irish by the british publisher thomas legate. there were similar physical and physiognomic traits but there were occasionally differences that drew attention to differences that were rarely reported in the press. for example, the reporting of a thursday scene, at first avenue, showed ragged women and children around the body of a sergeant. the physiognomy of these figures, combined with the depravity of their acts and behavior, leveraged into the ensemble that the -- as bad as an sex and as amazon's. the link was surely not lost on
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the republican readership. but they're rags an alien features -- in stark contract to depictions, in working women and other images. the second installment provided readers with more distinction among the riders then murky -- amid a double page engraving in the august 1st issue, to pictures in leslie's description, quote, who represent groups of riders giving an idea of the parties concerned. implicit in that opaque phrase was the idea of concern was readily and parent and it required no further elaboration. these images, also containing specific incrimination,
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offering insights into the chronology of the formation, and early composition, of the riot crowd. in particular -- groups of rioters marching down avenue a, offering across section of new york male workers, including, on the left, a laborer, and on the right, perhaps a veteran of an earlier campaign. this is addressed in market formality, and is showing the kind of pros, and craft pride, appropriate to or tunnel processions, or, as postwar testimony indicates, what was considered, in many skilled trades, correct attire to be worn for the demonstrations. this illustration may represent the first phase, before it deteriorated into violence. when the primary goal of many protesters, certainly, of trade unions, was to stop the draft by enforcing a general strike. such figure, soon, abandon the
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protest. in some cases, actively opposed the rioters. finally, what do contemporary readers, is the engravings of the widespread tax simulations, and murders perpetrated by the rioters, against african american new yorkers? in addition to the extent of coverage of the destruction of the colors, 11 engravings out of 80 illustrations of the events, focused on such violence. among the most shocking, and widely reported, was the torture, lynching, and immolation of carmen william jones, at clarkson hudson street, near manhattan's west waterfront on monday july 13th. the many portrayals of attacks we called and seem to reiterate the iconography of the antebellum, anti slavery movement, which advocated the cause, using images of the
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exploitation, sale and abuse of powerless, enslaved african americans. but despite the pictorial presses previous representation of slavery and emancipation, the meaning of such shocking, and no doubt, sometimes sensational images, had undergone a shift by the middle of 1863. for readers out frank leslie's,'harper's weekly'and the illustrated news, the visualization of the riot and its african american victims was entwined in the changing context of the war and it's corresponding alterations in coverage. thus, readers of the illustrated press came upon the engravings of the july violence having recently seen in the june 27th frank leslie's heroic images of the assault by black regiments by native guards against intrench rebel forces at fort hudson,
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louisiana. a week later, in the july 4th harper's weekly, they viewed black troops, near the battle of in mississippi, there were pictures of blacks mobilizing in new york, from robert e. lee confederate forces, and a scene of stalwart african american volunteers, heading to a recruitment office, were prominently displayed as full page images in'harper's weekly'and the new york illustrated news. the latter engraving was all the more striking in light of the incendiary pictorial reports in that newspaper following the emancipation proclamation in january. a full page fifth avenue seen showing affluent black new yorkers common during, as they ignored the privileges of their white reverend, unquote. moreover, and the aftermath of the riots, the sacrifice and bravery of black
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soldiers was featured in pictorial coverage of the massachusetts regimen, when they attacked fort wagner, south carolina. the coverage of the august 15th issue, of the new york illustrated news, presented the capture of a confederate lieutenant of a skirmish near view for, south carolina. near the rebel officer was a powerful african american private serving in the first south carolina colored volunteers. the pictorial coverage of the july 1863 draft riots, exemplifies many of the capacities, and limitations, a vote was a new form of journalism. the illustrated presses were reporting to establish its legitimacy as a news source, and confirmed its commercial viability. the war also served as a testing ground for devising the
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definitive metrics for reporting in producing, as well as the conventions for presenting pictorial news that it would use until the 1890s. the resulting coverage provided contemporary readers with visual data, narratives that detail the participants in and settings of events that also dramatically portrayed their progression and critical moments. these qualities also offered latter day viewers information about the conditions and in other places in completely depicted, and often entirely emitted in mid 19th century photography as well as textual accounts at the time. in the face of experiences, contingencies and portraits of a long and bitter war, these waves of seeing a represented way often underwent dramatic shifts. conventions
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and methods for depicting warfare changed, lyrical deaths, visions of combat and bloodless loss, we replaced by chaotic fighting, and twisted source corpus. the most raking change occurred in 1863 in the alteration of the pictorial coverage of african americans. influenced by the actions of black soldiers in pursuit of union victory, the pictorial press with increased and enthusiasm, illustrated their contributions. in turn, those pictures help change northern opinion about the role, and place, of black americans in the union. while never relinquishing signs of difference, the armed and active black soldier took precedence as long-standing symbols of the early and disciplined former slave and
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the childlike contraband lost traction. in that new compact, the antithesis of the racial violence of the draft riots was akin to the outrage illustrated press coverage of massacres of black troops, such as the infamous confederate slaughter at fort pillow, tennessee, in april, 1864. the new york african american residents attack during the draft riots as represented in the nations pictorial press, had achieved a new and terrible status. in a conflict in which they had come to be predominantly portrayed as champions of the preservation of the union, and a significant part of the alliance to end slavery, they were no longer simply innocent bystanders. they were now casualties of war.

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