Dear Readers (and Listeners)
As I mentioned during the four episode podcast series on the Draft Riots, I wanted to give you some sources for further reading in case any of you were interested in reading more about the incident. I will caution you, however, that not all sources are accurate and a lot of “urban legends” about the riots still get passed around on blogs, websites, etc. Just know that going in.
The Second Rebellion by James McCague is probably the most readable of the accounts about the riots as is it told in narrative format. It can be difficult to get your hands on though as it is no longer in print. Used copies can be found, though it may take some searching.
For those of you who prefer monographs, I would point you to The Devil’s Own Work by Brad Schecter and The New York City Draft Riots by Iver Bernstein. Though short, The Greatest Lynching in American History by Samuel Mitcham delves into issues of race and racism in Northern cities, as I referenced in my podcast. Charles Rivers Editors also have a slim volume on the Draft Riots which includes a pretty good bibliography.
The story of the volunteer fire companies in NYC is well told in a weighty tome entitle Our Firemen by A. Costello. He had the benefit of being able to talk to some of the firefighters who worked during the riots and he recounts some of their stories in his book. If you are interested in fire service history, period, this is a must have for your library.
If fiction is more your thing, check out Paradise Alley by Kevin Baker as the entire book is set during these four days. I also highly recommend Banished Children of Eve by Peter O’Quinn. The drafts riots are part of his story, but not the whole story.
Now, if you truly want to get an eyes on the ground view, you need to go to the newspapers. Read through the Times, Herald, World, and Daily News (all NY) accounts. These are available at most university libraries on microfilm and your local library can probably get them via ILL for you. Just request the rolls that include the July 1863 papers. Reading through 19th Century newspapers is a lot of fun!
There are some good articles written for various historical journals too, but I’m not listing them here because you’d need JSTOR access to get them. If interested though, email me and I can send you some titles.
Until next time, Dear Readers, take care of yourselves. And each other.