NYC Draft Riots

Today in History, July 13, 1863:

Just days after men had died fighting at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Irish immigrants began rioting in New York City against a draft.

The poor immigrants, who had recently come to America to escape the famines in Ireland, and who were living in poverty, were not happy to be drafted into military service when rich men could buy their way out of the draft for $300.

They were also competing directly with black freedmen for jobs, so the riot soon took on a racial component…even a black orphanage was burned.

Those men that had fought at Gettysburg? They had to leave their dead and move quickly to New York City to put down the insurrection. The NYC Draft Riots remain the most damaging in our history.

As an aside, to remain true to history…my favorite President’s father, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. was one of the wealthy men that bought his way out of service. Making up for that is part of the reason TR gave up a safe position as Under Secretary of the Navy to head up the Rough Riders in Cuba.

“…if They Mean to Have a War…Let it Begin Here.”


Today in History: July 13, 1729 – Future Captain John Parker is born in Lexington, Massachusetts.

A veteran of the French and Indian Wars, Captain Parker led a contingent of Minutemen on April 19, 1775 when they heard that the King’s soldiers were approaching. In the Skirmish on Lexington Green, Parker ordered the militia, “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

Though simple, if you think about what this command meant in the grand scheme of things, it is profound. Captain Parker was dead by September of the same year, a victim of disease, as so many of the Revolutionary War soldiers were.