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Burning of the Colored Orphan Asylum

In March 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, the Union government instituted the first national draft in American history. Northern Democratic papers warned working-class whites, particularly the urban Irish, that the draft would force them to fight in a war to free the slaves, who would then move north to take their jobs and marry their daughters. A series of anti-war riots broke out during the summer of 1863 in cities across the North. The most serious occurred in New York City, where huge mobs demolished draft offices, lynched blacks, and destroyed large sections of the city in four days of rioting. The most notorious target of the anti-draft and anti-black violence was the Colored Orphan Asylum. Harper’s Weekly cartoonist Thomas Nast would thereafter associate the burning of the Colored Orphan Asylum with Irish-Americans and the Democratic party.

The Chinese Question
February 18, 1871, page 149

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