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This title in other editions

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

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The Devil's Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

On July 13, 1863, the largest riots in American history broke out on the streets of New York City, nearly destroying in four days the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of the nation. Placing the riots in the context of social tension and reform from the 1840s through the 1870s, Barnet Schecter sheds new light on the Civil War era and on the history of protest and reform in America.
Barnet Schecter is the author of The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution. He lives in New York City.
On July 4, 1863, Robert E. Lee and his Confederate army retreated in tatters from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the Union began its march to ultimate victory in the Civil War. Nine days later, the largest riots in American history broke out on the streets of New York City, nearly destroying in four days the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of the nation. Northerners suspected a Confederate plot, carried out by local "Copperhead" sympathizers; however, the reality was more complex and far-reaching, exposing fault lines of race and class still present in America today.

 

Angered by the Emancipation Proclamation, issued six months earlier, and by Abraham Lincoln's imposition of the first federal military draft in U. S. history, which exempted those who could pay $300, New York's white underclass, whipped up by its conservative Democratic leaders, raged against the powerful currents of social change embodied by Lincoln's Republican administration. What began as an outbreak against draft offices soon turned into a horrifying mob assault on upper-class houses and property, and on New York's African American community. The draft riots drove thousands of blacks to the fringes of white society, hastening the formation of large ghettoes, including Harlem, in a once-integrated city.

 

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 comes 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 light on the Civil War era and on the history of protest and reform in America.

"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 counter-revolution against Reconstruction.'"—Alison McCulloch, The New York Times Book Review
 
"Schecter's riveting narrative places the violence, dramatized by Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, in a national context, as a microcosm of forces that deferred integration for a century."—USA Today
 
"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."The Wall Street Journal

"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

"In The Devil's Own Work, Barnet Schecter has given us 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

"Barnet Schecter opens a vivid, wide-angle lens on New York City's 1863 draft riots, exposing not only the harrowing experiences of participants on all sides, but also the long roots and deep consequences of this four-day spasm of violent protest. A pivotal moment in the larger Civil War, and part of a Southern attempt to exploit Northern dissent, the riots were also a turning point in American race relations—and in attitudes toward labor, immigrants, and an evolving class society. Schecter tells his story in readable language and largely through the eyes of those who lived it, making the book an absorbing journey though this controversial passage in our history."—Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of Boss Tweed

"At last, the real war has got into the books. Barnet Schecters The Devil's Own Work is a masterpiece of historical writing, the first work to place the New York City draft riots in their full context."—Kevin Baker, author of Paradise Alley

"Barnet Schecter has brought the terrible days of death, fire, and looting in Gotham to life with vivid prose and thorough research. The Devil's Own Work is a fascinating account of the most important civil disturbance in all of American history."—Kenneth T. Jackson, Columbia University, editor-in-chief, The Encyclopedia of New York City

"Barnet Schecter unearths the political and social roots of the Civil War Draft Riots and traces their reach as they influenced the fate of Reconstruction and the struggle for American democracy. Ambitious in its arguments and generous with its detail, The Devil's Own Work carefully dissects the Riots to provide new insights and challenges to those interested in the history of New York City and the Civil War."—Craig Steven Wilder, Professor of History, Dartmouth College

"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 . . . Schecter's 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."—Charles L. Lumpkins, Library Journal

"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 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."—Publishers Weekly

Synopsis:

On July 13, 1863, the largest riots in American history broke out on the streets of New York City, nearly destroying in four days the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of the nation. Placing the riots in the context of social tension and reform from the 1840s through the 1870s, Barnet Schecter sheds new light on the Civil War era and on the history of protest and reform in America. Barnet Schecter is the author of The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution. He lives in New York City. On July 4, 1863, Robert E. Lee and his Confederate army retreated in tatters from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the Union began its march to ultimate victory in the Civil War. Nine days later, the largest riots in American history broke out on the streets of New York City, nearly destroying in four days the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of the nation. Northerners suspected a Confederate plot, carried out by local Copperhead sympathizers; however, the reality was more complex and far-reaching, exposing fault lines of race and class still present in America today.

Angered by the Emancipation Proclamation, issued six months earlier, and by Abraham Lincoln's imposition of the first federal military draft in U. S. history, which exempted those who could pay $300, New York's white underclass, whipped up by its conservative Democratic leaders, raged against the powerful currents of social change embodied by Lincoln's Republican administration. What began as an outbreak against draft offices soon turned into a horrifying mob assault on upper-class houses and property, and on New York's African American community. The draft riots drove thousands of blacks to the fringes of white society, hastening the formation of large ghettoes, including Harlem, in a once-integrated city.

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 comes 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 light on the Civil War era and on the history of protest and reform in America. 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 counter-revolution against Reconstruction.'--Alison McCulloch, The New York Times Book Review Schecter's riveting narrative places the violence, dramatized by Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, in a national context, as a microcosm of forces that deferred integration for a century.--USA Today 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.--The Wall Street Journal

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

In The Devil's Own Work, Barnet Schecter has given us 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

Barnet Schecter opens a vivid, wide-angle lens on New York City's 1863 draft riots, exposing not only the harrowing experiences of participants on all sides, but also the long roots and deep consequences of this four-day spasm of violent protest. A pivotal moment in the larger Civil War, and part of a Southern attempt to exploit Northern dissent, the riots were also a turning point in American race relations--and in attitudes toward labor, immigrants, and an evolving class society. Schecter tells his story in readable language and largely through the eyes of those who lived it, making the book an absorbing journey though this controversial passage in our history.--Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of Boss Tweed

At last, the real war has got into the books. Barnet Schecter's The Devil's Own Work is a masterpiece of historical writing, the first work to place the New York City draft riots in their full context.--Kevin Baker, author of Paradise Alley

Barnet Schecter has brought the terrible days of death, fire, and looting in Gotham to life with vivid prose and thorough research. The Devil's Own Work is a fascinating account of the most important civil disturbance in all of American history.--Kenneth T. Jackson, Columbia University, editor-in-chief, The Encyclopedia of New York City

Barnet Schecter unearths the political and social roots of the Civil War Draft Riots and traces their reach as they influenced the fate of Reconstruction and the struggle for American democracy. Ambitious in its arguments and generous with its detail, The Devil's Own Work carefully dissects the Riots to provide new insights and challenges to those interested in the history of New York City and the Civil War.--Craig Steven Wilder, Professor of History, Dartmouth College

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 . . . Schecter's 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.--Charles L. Lumpkins, Library Journal

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 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.--Publishers Weekly

Synopsis:

On July 13, 1863, the largest riots in American history broke out on the streets of New York City, nearly destroying in four days the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of the nation. Placing the riots in the context of social tension and reform from the 1840s through the 1870s, Barnet Schecter sheds new light on the Civil War era and on the history of protest and reform in America.

About the Author

Historian Barnet Schecter is the author of The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780802715081
Author:
Schecter, Barnet
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Subject:
Americas (North Central South West Indies)
Subject:
United States - Civil War
Subject:
United States - State & Local - Middle Atlantic
Subject:
General
Subject:
US History-1800 to Civil War
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20070131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
bandw illustrations throughout
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Military » Civil War » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » World History » General

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Product details 448 pages Walker & Company - English 9780802715081 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , On July 13, 1863, the largest riots in American history broke out on the streets of New York City, nearly destroying in four days the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of the nation. Placing the riots in the context of social tension and reform from the 1840s through the 1870s, Barnet Schecter sheds new light on the Civil War era and on the history of protest and reform in America. Barnet Schecter is the author of The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution. He lives in New York City. On July 4, 1863, Robert E. Lee and his Confederate army retreated in tatters from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the Union began its march to ultimate victory in the Civil War. Nine days later, the largest riots in American history broke out on the streets of New York City, nearly destroying in four days the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of the nation. Northerners suspected a Confederate plot, carried out by local Copperhead sympathizers; however, the reality was more complex and far-reaching, exposing fault lines of race and class still present in America today.

Angered by the Emancipation Proclamation, issued six months earlier, and by Abraham Lincoln's imposition of the first federal military draft in U. S. history, which exempted those who could pay $300, New York's white underclass, whipped up by its conservative Democratic leaders, raged against the powerful currents of social change embodied by Lincoln's Republican administration. What began as an outbreak against draft offices soon turned into a horrifying mob assault on upper-class houses and property, and on New York's African American community. The draft riots drove thousands of blacks to the fringes of white society, hastening the formation of large ghettoes, including Harlem, in a once-integrated city.

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 comes 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 light on the Civil War era and on the history of protest and reform in America. 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 counter-revolution against Reconstruction.'--Alison McCulloch, The New York Times Book Review Schecter's riveting narrative places the violence, dramatized by Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, in a national context, as a microcosm of forces that deferred integration for a century.--USA Today 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.--The Wall Street Journal

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

In The Devil's Own Work, Barnet Schecter has given us 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

Barnet Schecter opens a vivid, wide-angle lens on New York City's 1863 draft riots, exposing not only the harrowing experiences of participants on all sides, but also the long roots and deep consequences of this four-day spasm of violent protest. A pivotal moment in the larger Civil War, and part of a Southern attempt to exploit Northern dissent, the riots were also a turning point in American race relations--and in attitudes toward labor, immigrants, and an evolving class society. Schecter tells his story in readable language and largely through the eyes of those who lived it, making the book an absorbing journey though this controversial passage in our history.--Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of Boss Tweed

At last, the real war has got into the books. Barnet Schecter's The Devil's Own Work is a masterpiece of historical writing, the first work to place the New York City draft riots in their full context.--Kevin Baker, author of Paradise Alley

Barnet Schecter has brought the terrible days of death, fire, and looting in Gotham to life with vivid prose and thorough research. The Devil's Own Work is a fascinating account of the most important civil disturbance in all of American history.--Kenneth T. Jackson, Columbia University, editor-in-chief, The Encyclopedia of New York City

Barnet Schecter unearths the political and social roots of the Civil War Draft Riots and traces their reach as they influenced the fate of Reconstruction and the struggle for American democracy. Ambitious in its arguments and generous with its detail, The Devil's Own Work carefully dissects the Riots to provide new insights and challenges to those interested in the history of New York City and the Civil War.--Craig Steven Wilder, Professor of History, Dartmouth College

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 . . . Schecter's 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.--Charles L. Lumpkins, Library Journal

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 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.--Publishers Weekly

"Synopsis" by ,
On July 13, 1863, the largest riots in American history broke out on the streets of New York City, nearly destroying in four days the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of the nation. Placing the riots in the context of social tension and reform from the 1840s through the 1870s, Barnet Schecter sheds new light on the Civil War era and on the history of protest and reform in America.
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