The Devil's Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America [NOOK Book]

Overview


As Barnet Schecter dramatically shows in The Devil's Own Work, the cataclysm in New York was anything but an isolated incident; rather, it was a microcosm-within the borders of the supposedly loyal northern states-of the larger Civil War between the North and South. The riots erupted over the same polarizing issues--of slavery versus freedom for African Americans and the scope of federal authority over states and individuals--that had torn the nation apart. And the riots' aftermath foreshadowed the compromises ...
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The Devil's Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America

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Overview


As Barnet Schecter dramatically shows in The Devil's Own Work, the cataclysm in New York was anything but an isolated incident; rather, it was a microcosm-within the borders of the supposedly loyal northern states-of the larger Civil War between the North and South. The riots erupted over the same polarizing issues--of slavery versus freedom for African Americans and the scope of federal authority over states and individuals--that had torn the nation apart. And the riots' aftermath foreshadowed the compromises that would bedevil Reconstruction and delay the process of integration for the next 100 years.

The story of the draft riots come alive in the voices of passionate newspaper rivals Horace Greeley and Manton Marble; black leader Rev. Henry Highland Garnet and renegade Democrat Fernando Wood; Irish soldier Peter Welsh and conservative diarist Maria Daly; and many others. In chronicling this violent demonstration over the balance between centralized power and civil liberties in a time of national emergency, The Devil's Own Work (Walt Whitman's characterization of the riots) sheds new light on the Civil War era and on the history of protest and reform in America.
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Editorial Reviews

Alison McCulloch
Schecter throws a wide net in his detailed account of the riots, setting the violence amid the racism, political corruption and brutal inequities of the time, looking not only at what inspired the rebellion, but also at what it left in its wake: a seven-year exodus of black residents and a political climate ripe for the "ongoing counterrevolution against Reconstruction."
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
The 1863 draft riots in New York City, the bloodiest in the nation's history, emerge as a microcosm of the convoluted and contradictory politics of the Civil War era in this absorbing study. Historian Schecter (The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution) pens with a gripping account of the five days of rioting. But he also probes beneath the turmoil to examine the ethnic, religious and class conflicts that made the confrontation so explosive. The rioters, largely working-class Irish Catholics, vented their fury at a draft law that exempted those who could pay $300, at the city's WASP Republican business elite and, inflamed by racist demagoguery, at African-Americans with whom they competed for low-wage jobs and status in America's racial hierarchy. Schecter contends that these dynamics played out nationally in the gradual demise of Reconstruction, thus setting the stage for racial and labor conflict in the century to come. Copiously researched and highlighted with a wealth of period commentary, his lucid narrative colorfully recreates a historical watershed and offers a rich exploration of the Civil War's unfinished business. 40 b&w photos, maps, not seen by PW. Agent, Sabine Hrechdakian. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
For several days in mid-July 1863 New York City, white working-class, mainly Irish Catholic mobs rebelled against the government's first military draft, which allowed those capable of paying the $300 exemption to avoid conscription. Before being brutally suppressed, rioters caused great destruction in the city, battling police and soldiers, torching rich Republican Protestants' homes, and seeking ethnic cleansing of the city's African Americans. Like historian Iver Bernstein's The New York City Draft Riots, independent scholar Schecter's (The Battle for New York) book explores immediate antebellum and postbellum economic and social relationships that buttressed antidraft riots in New York and other cities. But building upon more recent scholarship and his own archival research, Schecter presents a gripping story, clearly and accurately centering the riots in the context of political power relationships: New York City Democratic Party leaders, with pro-Confederate sympathies, played upon class, ethnic, and religious animosities and antiblack racism to mobilize white working people in support of their party's objectives in reshaping the national agenda, first for the Civil War and later for Reconstruction. An appendix offers a walking tour of Civil War New York, for which additional details are provided via the book's eponymous web site. Highly recommended for public and undergraduate libraries.-Charles L. Lumpkins, Pennsylvania State Univ., State College Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"The most lethal urban riot in American history, the New York City draft riots in July 1863 were not an isolated event. Barnet Schecter provides the most detailed narrative of the riots, and also places them within the national context of the Civil War and the local context of ethnic, racial, and political conflict during the decades from the 1840s to the 1870s. The experience of New York's African American community receives more attention in The Devil's Own Work than in any other study."--James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

"An acute study of perhaps New York City's most barbarous episode...Schecter throws a wide net in his detailed account of the riots, setting the violence amid the racism, political corruption and brutal inequities of the time, looking not only at what inspired the rebellion, but also at what it left in its wake."--Alison McCulloch, New YorkTimes Book Review

"A coruscating chronicle of this shameful episode in American history. He might well have contented himself with a blow-by-blow account, but he also lays bare the depth of pro-Southern "copperhead" sentiments in the North--in New York City in particular--and the persistence of such sentiments after the war."--Fergus M. Bordewich, Wall Street Journal

"A fascinating look at the explosive witches' brew of resentment and rage that ignited deadly Civil War draft riots and which continued to haunt the nation for another hundred years thereafter. It's all here in this thought-provoking and meticulously rendered work: race and class, protest and reform, and a myriad of colorful voices."--Jay Winik, author of April 1865: The Month That Saved America

"Schecter's riveting narrative places the violence, dramatized by Martin Scorcese's "Gangs of New York," in a national context, as a microcosm of forces that deferred integration for a century."--USAToday

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802718372
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 5/26/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.12 (d)
  • File size: 7 MB

Meet the Author

Historian Barnet Schecter is the author of The Battle for New York, the hinge battle in the American Revolution, and The Devil's Own Work, a chronicle of the Civil War draft riots in New York. He lives in New York City.
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Table of Contents

Prologue : "we have not one devil, but many to contend with"
1 "The rebel horde had invaded Pennsylvania in force" 9
2 The battle lines are drawn : race, class, and religion 29
3 Horace Greeley and the birth of the Republican Party 46
4 Fernando Wood, the "Southern" mayor of New York 59
5 "Slavery must die that the nation might live" 77
6 Emancipation and its enemies 96
7 "A highwayman's call on every American citizen for '$300 or your life'" 113
8 "Down with the rich men!": the New York City draft riots begin 125
9 "Chased, stoned, and beaten" : "a crusade against Negroes" 143
10 Monday night : "the fiery nucleus of the entire riot" 157
11 "Government in the hands of the white race alone" 171
12 "The police cannot much longer sustain the contest" 184
13 Doom or deliverance : Wednesday, July 15 - day three 201
14 "Hellish passions culminating in riots, arson, and murder" 214
15 The final days : Thursday and Friday 224
16 A plot to "make the Northern States a battle-field" 240
17 Aftermath : sitting on two volcanoes 253
18 "Our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country" 269
19 "Villainous threats of laying northern cities in ashes" 286
20 War's end : slavery is dead, the "demon of caste" lives on 298
21 "Condemnation and reversal of Negro suffrage" 310
22 Strange bedfellows : Greeley and the liberal republicans 332
23 A final devil's bargain : the end of reconstruction 353
App A walking tour of New York 371
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