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Listed Under:  Civil War Draft Riots, 1863  |   Irish Americans

New York Times

The Archbishop and His Flock

Citation Information:"The Archbishop and His Flock," New York Times, v. 12, 18 July, 1863. Numbers 3680 - 3685.

THE ARCHBISHOP AND HIS FLOCK.

Archbishop Hughes' Address to Four Thousand "Men Not Rioters and Not Gentlemen" of the City.

He Counsels Forbearance and a Return to Work.

The citizens of New York were very generally surprised yesterday morning to find posted in every available position, and on every conspicuous bulletin, a huge placard, on which was printed the following

ADDRESS AND INVITATION.

"To the Men of New York, who are now called in many of the papers Rioters:

Men! I am not able, owing to rheumatism in my limbs, to visit you; but that is not a reason why you should not pay me a visit in your whole strength. Come, then, to-morrow, (Friday,) at 2 o'clock to my residence, northwest corner Madison-avenue and Thirty-sixth street. I shall have a speech prepared for you.

There is abundant space for the meeting around my house. I can address you from a corner of the balcony. If I should be unable to stand during my delivery, you will permit me to address you sitting; my voice is much stronger than my limbs. I take upon myself the responsibility of assuring you that in paying me this visit, or in retiring from it, you shall not be disturbed by any exhibition of municipal or military presence. You who are Catholics, or as many of you as are, have a right to visit your Bishop without molestation.

JOHN HUGHES, Archbishop of New York

New York, July 16, 1863

Very many people doubted the authenticity of the document, and argued that in the first place the Archbishop's well-known signature was †John, &c., &c., and not †John Hughes. They also considered the wording of the invitation not such as one so eminent in the Church, and so influential with his people would be apt to use in communicating with a body of men, whose actions during the past week have turned our City upside down, and filled its borders with sorrow and vexation. In fact, among the newspapermen and the business community generally, the address was considered to be the emanation of some brain whose sole idea was to get a large crowd in the neighborhood of the Archbishop's house and "sell" them. Others, again, thought it a shrewd device of the authorities to gather the rioters together that they might be nabbed, or possibly fired upon. Whether any of these opinions were based on the facts of the case or not, the following report will determine:

At 1 o'clock P. M., we called upon the Archbishop and found him at work in his office. He stated that the call issued in the morning papers was a genuine one, and that he proposed to address such of his fellow citizens as should see fit to accept his invitaiton. His address, he said, was as yet unprepared, or rather it was unwritten, and he should of course be unable to furnish copies to the Press, and indeed the repenters must take their chances with the rest of the people. Satisfied that there was no hoax thus far we went again upon the street, where had by this time collected a crowd of perhaps five or six hundred individuals, of various ages but of one nationality. They were quiet and orderly, but disposed to regard with curious and seeking scrutiny any individual whose issue and purse permitted him the luxury of a whole coat and a clean pair of boots.

As the hour specified in the call drew near, the crowd increased in numbers, but did not change in appearance. The working element was there in great force, and it was by no means a difficult task for a reporter to gather from the expressions of the crowd the current of their thoughts, or the expected tenor of the Archbishop's address. Free allusion was made to the events of the week, and sundry comments were made upon the personal appearance of three members of the Press whose unfortunate luck took them into the hands of this unruly mob on Monday and Tuesday last.

Standing upon the front steps of the Episcopal residence were representatives from every journal of prominence in the City, many women, and a very demonstrative crowd; while in front of the house up and down the avenue stretched a dense mass of men and boys, numbering at least by this time three or four thousand people.

Through the thoughtful courtesy of Mr. O'Donnell, we were invited to take a position at the window whence the Archbishop would deliver his address.

At precisely 2 o'clock, the Archbishop, clad in purple robes, and decked with the insignia of his position, stepped upon the balcony. His appearance was the signal for immediate, enthusiastic and prolonged applause, after courteously acknowledging which he sat down, apparently overcome, by his emotions, the heat, and his severe physical infirmities. For some moments the scene was profoundly impressive. Upon the little balcony, and in the vestments of clerical rank and power, and surrounded by various Reverends of degree and station, sat the man before whose uplifted finger, thousands had bent the knee, and in the street with open eyes and mouths stood in absolute silence a vast multitude whose deeds during the week have made the City tremble and put to the blush the worst days and scenes of revolutionary Europe, waiting anxiously for the word of encouragement or advice or of rebuke which was soon to come, while upon a neighboring balcony sat one of the highest of our judicial functionaries, prepared to applaud the one as he had already some what publicly defended the others.

Having partaken of some slight refreshment, the venerable Priest arose, and removing his cap, bowed courteously to the crowd, while upon the instant, every man in the immense assemblage took off his hat, and the united voice of the upturned faces made the City for squares around resound with hearty greeting and pious applause. Silence having been restored the Archbishop spoke as follows:

SPEECH OF ARCHISHOP HUGHES

MEN OF NEW YORK: They call you rioters and I cannot see a riotous face among you. (Cheers) I call you men of New York, not gentlemen, because gentlemen is so threadbare a term that it means nothing positive. (Applause.) Give me men, and I know of my own knowledge, that if the City were invaded by a British or any other foreign Power, (laughter.) the delicate ladies of New York, with infants at their breasts, would look for their protection to men, rather than to gentlemen. (Applause.) Of course, there is no reason why you should not be gentlemen, for there is no real difference between these terms. (Applause.) I address you of my own choice; and I would do so if I had to go on crutches. No one has prompted me to do it. My lungs are stronger than my limbs. It gratifies me that you have met in peace and good order here at this time. This, however, does not surprise me—it is what I expected. I do not address you as the President. (laughter,) or the Governor, or the Mayor, or a military officer. I address you as your father. (Cheers.) VOICE—You are worth the whole of them. And I am not going to go into the question, what has brought about this unhappy state of things. It is not my business to do so but as far as I am concerned myself, you know that I am a minister of God, and a minister of peace, who in your troubles in years past, as you know, never deserted you. (Cheers, and cries of "No, never.") With my tongue and my pen I have stood by you always, and so shall to the end of my life, so long as you are right, and I sincerely hope that you are not wrong. (Cheers.) I am not a runaway Bishop in times of danger. (A Voice—"No, you're not like BEECHER.") It has been perhaps a calamity, but I do not regret it. That I never was conscious of the sentiment of fear until the danger was over, and then sometimes I might perhaps get a little nervous. (Cheers.) I could not even in the best of cases, as you know, fight for you.

The course of nature has denied me that privilege but I can still stand by you, I can still advise you, and, if necessary, I can die with you. (Great cheering.) As I said before, I will not enter into the question which has provoked all this excitement. No doubt there are some real grievances, but still I think that there are many imaginary ones—because in this world everything is comparative in its nature. There are no people in the world that have not some cause of grievance, and there are few that have not greater cause for complaint than we can complain of, after all. (Cheers.) Everything is comparative, and a change is not always an improvement.

When I cast my thoughts back to the land of my forefathers, and when I think of it's desolation, when I see the fertile west and south of Ireland depopulated and cattle browsing on the ruins of the cottages of the noble race that once lived there, I thank God that I was permitted to be among those who had an opportunity of coming to this country, where at least no such wretched tyranny is practiced (great cheering.) If you are Irishmen, and the papers say the rioters are all Irishmen, then I also am an Irishman, (tremendous applause) but not a rioter, for I am a man of peace. If you are Catholics, as they have said, probably to wound my feelings, then I also am a Catholic (cheers.)

I know that men are sometimes liable to get excited from a apprehension of danger, and I myself as your Bishop, have had my own troubles and my persecutions, but I think it is the best policy to bear evils patiently. The more especially when they are merely temporary and will soon pass away. I agree with the poet, that it is far better for us to bear our little inconveniences here than to rush into evils we know not of. In Europe, where most of the countries are despotic—yes, even in England, (groans,) where they have a Constitution, they are none the less despotic—and a ruler is a ruler by right, whether he be a fool or a wise man, and must occupy the throne while he lives. There is no relief there for an oppressed people, except in revolution. Revolution in any country is a desperate state, and I know of no country where it could be in worse taste than here.

In this country the Constitution gives the right to the people to make a revolution every four years. (Cheers.) But it is a different kind of a revolution. The battles of our revolutions are not battles of blood and violence, nor are the bullets bullets of lead. You know what they do. They fire paper bullets. Were you ever in Rome walking on the Corso during the Carnival? The people throw bullets—pellets of flour, and perhaps gilded, at each other. But in this country the Government is a foundation not to be destroyed. It is the right of the people every four years to correct or amend, as the printers say, the superstructure. We have the right to approve or disapprove the acts of our rulers, but not to override them, but let us preserve the foundation, and let the American people rebuild the superstructure every four years.

If you take away the foundation, what have you, what have I, to cling to. What should we have remaining in the form of human government? I am too old now to seek another home or country, and I shall cling to the old foundation. I want the housekeepers to mind. (A Voice—"And let the niggers keep South.) Everything is in the hands of the supreme people of the United States, and the majority of them, whether they make a blunder or not, I am willing to be governed by. Now, gentlemen, (laughter.) I am nearly done.

There is one thing, however, I must say. I wish to ask you a question, and I wish you to answer it, and if I should ask your counsel on another point I know you will give it to me. ("We will, we will.")

Then, is this business to go on? Should not every man in his own modest way become a preserver of the peace? I am told in the papers, that not a little property has been destroyed. I remember the anecdote of a lady who said to her child, come, my darling, come with me to Church. The child answered, what's the use, mamma. Well, that was a child's answer, and I hope he has seen the folly of it, if he has grown up, but now if property is destroyed, what is the use? It must be paid for by you and by me. No, no, but if property is lost it can be repaired or restored. But who can bring back an immortal soul? In the case of a violent and unjust assault on you without provocation, my notion is that every man has a right to defend his house or his shanty at the risk of his life. (Cheers.) The cause, however, must be just. It must be aggressive not offensive. Do you want my advice? ("Yes.") I have been hurt by the reports that you are rioters.

You cannot imagine that I could hear these things without being pained grievously. Is there not some way by which you can stop these proceedings, and support the laws, of which none have been enacted against you as Irishmen and Catholics? You have suffered enough already. No Government can stand or protect itself, unless it protects its citizens. Military force will be let loose on you, and you know what that is. The innocent will be shot down, and the guilty like to escape. Would it not be better for you to retire quietly? Not to give up your principles or convictions, (Immense cheers.) but to keep out of the crowd where immortal souls are launched into eternity, and at all events get into no trouble till you are at home. Would it not be better? There is one thing in which I would ask your advice. When these so-called riots are over and the blame is justly laid on Irish Catholics, I wish you to tell me in what country I could claim to be born? (Voice—Ireland.)

Yes, but what shall I say if these stories be true? Ireland, that never committed a single act of cruelty until she was oppressed. Ireland, that has been the mother of heroes and poets, but never the mother of cowards. (Great applause.) When the first Apostle, St Patrick went to Ireland, he was preceded by Polladorus, and they listened to him as you now patiently listen to me. The soil of Ireland was never soiled by a single drop of martyr's blood. It would touch me deeply to have to reverse that record. Perhaps you consider this a touch of blarney, but I assure you it is the truth. (Cries of "It is, God bless you.")

The delicacy of feeling in Ireland is very great. You know, that Ireland sometimes produces idiots, not many of them, however, (laughter) but the delicacy of the people is such that they call them "Innocents" and not idiots. Well, once there was a poor child in this way, and you know these people are not accountable for what they do, and he was very fond of raw eggs which he took and ate on all occasions. Sometimes they were not so fresh as they might be, (laughter.) and one time, as he was swallowing his favorite beverage, he heard a chicken squeak in his throat. "Ah, my dear fellow," said he, "I am very sorry but you spoke too late." And down it went. But as I said before, there are very few of that sort in Ireland. Oh, my friends, what a scene rises before me as I think of that land of my nativity, and as I glance at the long list of noble men who are exiled from their homes—such men as Field Marshal Nugent whom I knew intimately, and the O'Donnells of Spain; when I know that most of the colleges have been established by the sons of Ireland; when I know that in later days the blood of your brothers have fed the fields of the Crimea and Balaklava, and of the Delhi in India; when I think of the Government which has persecuted them, leaving nothing for them but the United States—when I think of this, I do not envy the policy of John Bull, which replaces a noble population by a set of fat bullocks. (Laughter.) I took upon myself to say that you should not be molested in paying me a visit. (Cheers.) I thank you for your kindness—(applause.)—and I hope nothing will occur till you return home; and if by chance, as you go thither; you should meet a police officer, or a military man, why just——look at him. (Tremendous laughter and applause.)

The crowd cheered vociferously, and demanded the presence of the Archbishop again upon the balcony. He gratified them, bowed his thanks, and returned to his parlor, quite exhausted and greatly fatigued by the long standing and excitement.

After a while the crowd slowly dispersed, arguing among themselves as to what the Archbishop meant to have them do, some insisting that he refused to recognize them as rioters, and therefore they had done right; while others insisted that the venerable and suffering Priest intended to convey to them the wish that they should return to their homes and their work, and take things as they found them in their naturalized country—the land popularly supposed to be only the "home of the brave, and the land of the free."

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INQUESTS OF THE DEAD

A COLORED MAN IS DRIVEN TO DESPAIR AND SUICIDE.

Coroner Naumann held an inquest yesterday on the body of Mr. Henry Yates, a colored man, 41 years of age, who committed suicide at the house of his employer, James Martin, in Madison-street, by first cutting his throat, and then hanging himself to a cellar door by means of a small cord. The deceased resided in Water-street, and when the houses of the colored people were attacked by the mob on Thursday night, he undertook to defend his wife and children. The resistance which he offered was such as to excite them to the highest pitch, and many swore that he should be burned alive if caught. He secreted his family in the best way possible, and when resistance became hopeless he ran to the house of his employer where he was soon after found dead in the condition above stated.

Coroner Wildey held an inquest, at No. 163 East Twenty-sixth-street, on the body of MARY CORCORAN, aged 24 years, who was shot by the military while engaged in suppressing a riot on Thursday last. Deceased was standing on the walk when one of the rioters fired a pistol at the soldiers. The fire was returned, and this woman with several others, whose names we could not learn, were almost instantly killed.

James Broderick, of No. 176 East Thirty-first street, died from the effects of a gunshot wound, received at a riot in ninth-avenue.

Henry Getz was shot in the abdomen at the same time and place, and died from his wounds yesterday afternoon.

Coroner Rainey held inquests yesterday upon the bodies of quite a number who died from gunshot wounds and other injuries.

Delia Lawrence, aged 26 years, was shot in the collision in Tenth-avenue and Forty-first street.

Chas. Friebeck, Jr. shot in Second-avenue, near Forty-second street.

Michael H. Ryan, shot in Twenty-ninth street and Ninth-avenue.

Ellen Kirk, a child two years of age, accidentally shot by the mob, at No. 266 East Thirty-fifth street.

Edwin Murphy, shot in Second-avenue, near Twenty-fourth street.

A boy, name unknown, thirteen years of age, who died from injuries received in Second-avenue, corner of Twenty-first street.

James Hand, shot in Second-avenue.

An unknown man shot in Twenty-fourth street, near Second-avenue, at the time of the burning of the armory.

James Hughes, injuries received at the same time and place.

A colored man, name unknown, who died from injuries received at the hands of a mob in Thirty-second street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues. This man's head was beaten to a jelly, and there was no such thing as recognizing him.

Coroner Naumann held inquests on the following named persons:

Lewis Ebenspacher, residing at No. 111 St. Marks-place, who died from a gun-shot wound.

W. Cooper Williams, No. 303 First-avenue, shot through the heart.

Ambrose Schmidt, of No. 195 Third-street, shot.

Patrick Gaberty, No. 458 West Forty-second-street, shot.

Garrett Brady, No. 458 West Forty-second-street, shot.

Edward Suckembellie, shot.

Patrick Culpey, death from injuries received as the riot in Second-avenue, near Fourteenth-street.

William MAnnery, shot in Pitt street. The deceased resided at No. 100 Clinton-street.

A colored man, name unknown, who was hung in Madison-street by the mob.

Hugh Mann, shot through the heart at No. 277 First avenue.

An unknown man, shot at No. 304 Third-street.

Patrick Casey , who died from injuries received at No. 331 West Forty-third street.

The same Coroner held inquests on the bodies of five persons at Bellevue Hospital who dies from burns. Their names are unknown.

Also, upon the body of a colored man, who dies from the effects of burns and bruises received at the hands of the mob on the corner of Twenty-seventh-street and Seventh-avenue.

Coroner WIldey held an inquest upon the body of Peter Miller, aged 30 years, residing at No. 190 West Thirty-eighth street, who was accidentally killed by a shot from the military while they were engaged in suppressing a riot on the corner of Thirty-ninth-street and Ninth-avenue.

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A LOGICAL INFERENCE.

Judge Taney's notorious decision that "negroes have no rights which white men are bound to respect," received a curious and perfectly logical illustration during the progress of the riot in Harlem. A man was seized and brought before Justice Welch on a charge of invading the domicile of a respectable mulatto woman and attempting to destroy her goods. The woman testified that on the entrance of the rowdy he addressed her as follows: "The Constitution says that you can break into the house of a nigger, you can rob a nigger, you can burn his house and then you can kill the nigger." He was proceeding to do so when the entrance of the Police interrupted this constitutional invader of the rights of law-abiding citizens.

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Aid for the Injured.

The suggestion was casually made in conversation yesterday in a party of three gentlemen, that something ought to be done for the families of those members of the Police, Fire and Military Departments who have been killed or injured in the defence of law and order and in the protection of life and property during the recent riots. A paper was at once put in circulation, and in less than two hours nearly twenty thousand dollars was subscribed. The utmost alacrity was shown by every one to contribute to so excellent an object:—and we run no risk in saying that before night at least $50,000 will have been contributed for this purpose. The men who have had property exposed to the depredations of the lawless mob, are quick to recognize and prompt to meet the obligations they owe to those who have so nobly interposed for its protection.

No words can state too strongly the debt and gratitude which this City owes to the handful of men who have breasted the fury of this ferocious mob. During Monday, police bore the whole brunt of the storm; And it is to the unflinching courage and admirable tenacity with which they resisted, step by step, the onset of the mob, that we owe the check that was finally put upon its predations. Less than a thousand policemen, scattered over this large City, without any warning of the coming tempest, were suddenly required to face and withstand a raging mob of tens of thousands of reckless and infuriated madmen. But for their vigorous and heroic efforts on that day, the destruction of life and property in the City would have been tenfold what it was. The firemen behaved with equal courage and devotion, doing everything in their power to extinguish the flames which the rioters had deliberately set.

First of all, the City Government has a duty. It is bound to see that every dollar's worth of the property of these poor people which has been destroyed is made good to them. The City, of course, is legally liable, as for the losses of the white people. But these latter with their superior intelligence know how to obtain their indemnity, and there is no danger that they will not promptly enough assert their rights. But these poor people are in most cases too ignorant to know how to proceed, and, what is still worse, they have been too much accustomed to every form of wrong to have any hope or courage in trying to get redress. It should be made the special business of a committee, in the Common Council, to ascertain these damages, and see that compensation is speedily made. Inaction would be superlatively cruel, and delay would be only little less so. It matters little whether you relieve an absolutely destitute man next month or never.

But there should be private action, too. The Christianity of the city should make haste to purge itself of all connection with the infernal doings of the week. In its churches, to-morrow, it should contribute liberally to the relief of the wronged, thousands of whom profess to be, and truly are, disciples of the same Master. It should be the pleasure of all true men to join in the same charity. And still further, every such man will take care to do his part toward restoring these poor people to employment, and to sustain them in its peaceful prosecution. These colored people have a right to live, an infinitely better right, so long as they behave themselves, than the miscreants who persecute them.

The shallow pretext that these colored people injuriously compete with white labor, is beneath contempt. At no time for years has manual labor been in greater demand, in this City and county, than now, owing to the great drain of ablebodied men into the war. The labor of all is needed, and no white man is prejudiced by the work of the black man. But supposing it were otherwise—that there were an actual competition, we should like to know how that is to impair the black man's right or his duty to earn a livelihood. Who has a better right to find work in the country than he who was born in the country? Who has a fairer claim to keep clear of the almshouse than he who from childhood has considered the almshouse a disgrace? But, as we have said, there is no competition in the case. On all sides labor finds more than it can do. The Irishman might as well quarrel with the black man for taking up too much of the atmosphere as for encroaching upon the labor-market. Every willing hand, white or black, is now, more than ever, in demand; and more than ever, too, a public benefit.

We have never sought to excite hostility against any race. In other days we did what we could to shield the Irish when they were fleeing before frantic mobs—mobs, we may add, that were instigated by one at least of the very Presses which have instigated the population which were then the victims, to make the present attack upon a race which never did them injury. When justice is concerned, we make no account of race unless it be to recognize that the weaker the race the higher the claim to just treatment. We affirm that is impossible for any man of Christian principle, or even the moral principle of the Pagan standard, to dispute that our colored population have been dreadfully wronged in these riots. If that be true, there is no escape from the public and private obligation to repair the wrong so far as it is possible. If New York fails to do this, it will forever stand as the foulest blot in her history.