July 15, 1863: Draft riots continue

Burning the Orphan Asylum

The New York Times reports on the continuing draft riots in the city, but avows that most of the rioters are motivated by plunder.

The reign of the mob which was inaugurated on Monday morning has not yet ceased, although today will probably witness the end of its infamous usurpation. All Monday night the rioters, unchecked, prosecuted their depredations, and yesterday morning found the lawless spirit not a whit abated. On the contrary, the malignant originators of the disturbance grew bolder at the impunity with which they were necessarily permitted to indulge in their first day’s career, and at one time more serious consequences than any which have yet occurred were threatened. Happily, however, the military and police authorities early in the day recovered from the partial paralysis into which the sudden demonstrations of the mob had thrown them, and in sufficient force were able to contend with the truly formidable organization of lawless men. A few wholesome but severe lessons were administered to the rioters during the day wherever they showed themselves most turbulent, and toward evening there seemed to be unmistakable indications that the supremacy of law would soon be acknowledged even by the most rabid of the offenders. Perhaps, however, the mere fact that a score or more of the rioters were killed in the various conflicts with the military and the police was not solely the cause of this abatement of the spirit of violence.

The proclamation of Gov. HORATIO SEYMOUR, and the announcement, made early in the afternoon, that President LINCOLN had ordered the draft in this City to be suspended, may also have had something to do with restoring the malcontents to reason. At any rate, after nightfall the streets were comparatively quiet.

There is no question that the rioting yesterday was engaged in by vastly larger numbers than on Monday, and the spectators of the disorderly scenes were increased also by many thousands. This may be accounted for by the fact that all the large manufacturing establishments were closed, labor on the docks and at the ship-yards was suspended, and every branch of business was arrested, leaving thousands of persons at liberty to participate in the excesses, either passively as spectators, or in an active manner.

In the movements of the mob yesterday, moreover, there was no mistaking the fact that pillage was the prime incentive of the majority. “Resistance to the draft” was the flimsiest of veils to cover the wholesale plun dering which characterized the operations of the day.

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