To the Laboring Men of New York.
“Stand by the Law!”
“Stand by the Law!” One of four rare broadsides issued in 1863. This broadside is a dramatic plea for Democratic laboring men to support the Union; to not destroy property during New York City’s extraordinary Draft Riots. The workingmen are warned that they “will suffer loss and ruin” and will be “trampled underfoot by ambitious demagogues” with their “homes filled with sorrow” and their “eyes run over with tears” if they continue to riot and wreak havoc.
Most of the whites of the North were reluctant to fight against slavery and for black freedom, and that discontent burst forth in 1863 when the institution of the draft, with a provision that well-off draftees could buy a substitute from among the poor, sparked protests throughout the North, most notably five days of bloody rioting in New York City in July. Government offices were ransacked, homes of the rich were plundered and even destroyed, and African Americans were attacked on the streets, many of them lynched. In response, city Republicans like Sinclair Tousey and others published a series of dramatic broadsides by “A Democratic Workingman” that sought to deflect workers’ fury away from the Union and black people and toward slaveholders and their Democratic allies… [LCP, 2008 Annual Report]
The rioters are reminded that the City of New York will shoulder the burden of rebuilding the City, not the Federal government; “all the disturbances, losses, and damages, only fall upon our own heads. Comrades, Stand by the Law!” Further: “Comrades! In the name of God—-in the name of our wives and children—-in the name of everything that is dear to us STOP and THINK! Stand up [...] show the traitors of the South, and the friends of tyranny all over the world that The Workingmen of New York are able to govern themselves!”
These city men are exhorted upon and pleaded with to “give no heed to bad advice” as “any man than advises you to break the law is your enemy…”
A repaired copy of this broadside, dated July 18, 1863, brought the stunning figure of $12,500 at Swann Galleries in 2018, against a $4,000–6,000 estimate.
Description: To the Laboring Men of New York.
[New York]. Saturday, July 18, 1863. Broadside. 19 x 12 inches. Previously linen-lined, browning, very faded accession numbers and words (“Copy 2” [indistinct] Room) to verso. Boldly printed; very good.