The New York City Draft Riots of July 13-16, 1863, were by some measures the most bloody and devastating riots in American history. At a time when the Civil War was raging on battlefields, rivers and oceans, violence and terror ruled the streets of our largest city, and battle-weary troops had to be rushed from Gettysburg to help restore order. What began as a protest against the Federal draft quickly degenerated into a racial and social struggle as ugly as any in the Deep South – far more Jim Crow than Big Apple.
William F.B. Vodrey, a magistrate of Cleveland Municipal Court, is a former president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable. He has long been interested in the Civil War, and has spoken on the subject to such organizations as the Andersonville Society, the Cleveland Grays, the Tuscarawas County Historical Society, the Western Reserve Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, and numerous Civil War roundtables. His essay “George Washington: Hero of the Confederacy?” appeared in American History magazine. A graduate of Oberlin College and Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Vodrey lives in Cleveland with his wife Susan and their three boys.