Executive Order signed by Abraham Lincoln on July 6, 1863 calling for the conscription of troops in the 8th District of New York, which later became known as Hell’s Kitchen. The controversial order sparked the New York Draft Riots, the worst rioting in American History, which occurred between July 13 and 16, 1863 and resulted in over 2,000 casualties, including more than 100 deaths.
Stemming from a shortage of manpower, the conscription law subjected unmarried men between 35 and 45 years of age to military service. Those who could afford to pay for a substitute in the draft lottery could avoid conscription, leaving the working class to bear the brunt of the order. The decision resulted in rioting in various cities. In New York, where anti-war newspapers fueled the resentment felt by the working class, rioting erupted within a day of the first lottery. African Americans, who were exempt due to their status as non-citizens, became the targets of violence, with private property and businesses looted, including the Colored Orphan Asylum, which rioters ransacked before setting fire to the building. In response to the violence and destruction, New York City Mayor George Opdyke requested military assistance. Federal troops arrived on July 15 and restored order the following day.