Thursday, November 15, 2007

Orange Riots 1870 and 1871 and Lamartine Blocks,W29 & W30,Chelsea, NYC

The "Orange Riots" of 1871:

Lamartine Hall at the northwest corner of West 29th Street & 8Ave is in backround. At the time, it was headquarters of NYC-Chapter of the "Orangemen".

The building still stands and currently has a Deli on it's ground floor.
In the 1970's, When the area was an extention of the Fur District and still a Greek neighborhood ,the building housed an exotic bellydancing restaraunt .

In 1871, in New York City, Mayor A. Oakley Hall and Superintendent Kelso, head of the New York Police Department, issued a decree on 10th July banning the upcoming 12 July demonstration/Parade of the NYC Chapter of Orangemen to prevent conflict.

At the parade of the previous year (1870) Nine people had been killed and more than a hundred injured (including children) when a riot broke out after the paraders had angered Irish Catholics with sectarian songs and slogans.

Thus, New York city Democratic mayor A.Oakley Hall thought the best solution was to pressure his police chief into canceling the parade at the last minute, on July 11.

However, the ban angered many, who saw it as bowing down to the partisan wishes of the Irish Catholic immigrant community. It also reeked of politics, as many protestants viewed the situation as reeking of the corrupt Tweed ring that dominated city politics and that was viewed as an Irish Caholic political machine.

The New York Times launched a massive expose’ on Tammany Hall corruption just days before the 1871 Boyne Day Parade approached. With Democrats and reformers slinging mud at each other, tensions were high as the July 12 parade approached.

The New York Times headline of July 11 read: Terrorism Rampant. City Authorities Overawed by the Roman Catholics.

The ban was then revoked by State Governor Hoffman, after pressure from the city's elite. He promised the Orangemen protection by the state and Federal authorities if the city of New York could not provide it.

However, as it turned out, the fears of violence and it's provocation prooved all to accurate................

July 12,1871, the Orangemen were to march down Eighth Avenue from Twenty-Ninth Street. When the parade kicked off, all hell broke loose. A shower of tossed bottles,refuse,boots,kettles,stones,and other missiles rained down on the marchers. Tribal hatreds over 200 years old had made their way to New York City. A full blown Irish civil war had broken out on Manhattan’s West Side. Over 60 people were killed on July 12,1871, none of the dead were Orangemen.

The Orange Parade was never held after 1871, but the Orange Riots had the side-effect of also weakening Tammany from power. The political fallout from the back-to-back debacles- the Orange Riots and the Times disclosures, was too much for Tweed and Tammany to survive.

After an investigation by the Committee of Seventy, Tweed was arrested, and the city’s middle and upper classes breathed easier knowing these "violent-minded agents of Rome" no longer roamed the halls of power in New York.

An account of the bloody event is given in the below account from: "Great Riots of New York 1712 to 1873, Including a Full and Complete Account of the Four Days' Draft Riot of 1863"

Around the Orange head-quarters a still deeper excitement prevailed. The hum of the vast multitude seemed like the first murmurings of the coming storm, and many a face turned pale as the Orangemen, with their banners and badges, only ninety in all, passed out of the door into the street. John Johnston, their marshal, mounted on a spirited horse, placed himself at their head.

In a few minutes, the bayonets of the military force designed to act as an escort could be seen flashing in the sun, as the troops with measured tread moved steadily forward. Crowds followed them on the sidewalks, or hung from windows and house tops, while low curses could be heard on every side, especially when the Twenty-second Regiment deliberately loaded their pieces with ball and cartridge. The little band of Orangemen looked serious but firm, while the military officers showed by their preparations and order that they expected bloody work. The Orangemen formed line in Twenty-ninth Street, close to the Eighth Avenue, and flung their banners to the breeze. A half an hour later, they were ready to march, and at the order wheeled into Eighth Avenue.

At that instant a single shot rang out but a few rods distant. Heads were turned anxiously to see who was hit. More was expected as the procession moved on. A strong body of police marched in advance. Next came the Ninth Regiment, followed at a short interval by the Sixth. Then came more police, followed by the little band of Orangemen, flanked on either side, so as fully to protect them, by the Twenty-second and Eighty-fourth Regiments. To these succeeded more police. The imposing column was closed up by the Seventh Regiment, arresting all eyes by its even tread and martial bearing. The sidewalks, doorsteps, windows, and roofs were black with people. The band struck up a martial air, and the procession moved on towards Twenty-eighth Street.
Just before they reached it, another shot rang clear and sharp above the music. No one was seen to fall, and the march continued. At the corner of Twenty-seventh Street, a group of desperate looking fellows were assembled on a wooden shed that projected over the sidewalk. Warned to get down and go away, they hesitated, when a company of soldiers levelled their pieces at them. Uttering defiant threats, they hurried down and disappeared. As the next corner was reached, another shot was fired, followed by a shower of stones. A scene of confusion now ensued. The police fell on the bystanders occupying the sidewalks, and clubbed them right and left without distinction, and the order rolled down the line to the inmates of the houses to shut their windows. Terror now took the place of curiosity; heads disappeared, and the quick, fierce slamming of blinds was heard above the uproar blocks away. The procession kept on till it reached Twenty-fourth Street, when a halt was ordered.

The next moment a shot was fired from the second-story windows of a house on the north-east corner. It struck the Eighty-fourth Regiment, and in an instant a line of muskets was pointed at the spot, as though the order to fire was expected. One gun went off, when, without orders, a sudden, unexpected volley rolled down the line of the Sixth, Ninth, and Eighty-fourth Regiments. The officers were wholly taken by surprise at this unprecedented conduct; but, recovering themselves, rushed among the ranks and shouted out their orders to cease firing. But the work was done; and as the smoke slowly lifted in the hot atmosphere, a scene of indescribable confusion presented itself. Men, women, and children, screaming in wild terror, were fleeing in every direction; the strong trampling down the weak, while eleven corpses lay stretched on the sidewalk, some piled across each other. A pause of a few minutes now followed, while the troops reloaded their guns. A new attack was momentarily expected, and no one moved from the ranks to succor the wounded or lift up the dead. Here a dead woman lay across a dead man; there a man streaming with blood was creeping painfully up a doorstep, while crouching, bleeding forms appeared in every direction. Women from the windows looked down on the ghastly spectacle, gesticulating wildly. The police now cleared the avenue and side streets, when, the dead and wounded were attended to, and the order to move on was given. General Varian, indignant at the conduct of the Eighty-fourth in firing first without orders, sent it to the rear, and replaced it on the flank of the Orangemen with a portion of the Ninth. The procession, as it now resumed its march and moved through Twenty-fourth Street, was a sad and mournful one. The windows were filled with spectators, and crowds lined the sidewalks, but all were silent and serious. Not till it reached Fifth Avenue Hotel were there any greetings of welcome. Here some three thousand people were assembled, who rent the air with cheers. No more attacks were made, and it reached Cooper Institute and disbanded without any further incident.

In the meantime, the scene at the Bellevue Hospital was a sad and painful one. The ambulances kept discharging their bloody loads at the door, and groans of distress and shrieks of pain filled the air. Long rows of cots, filled with mangled forms, were stretched on every side, while the tables were covered with bodies, held down, as the surgeons dressed their wounds. The dead were carried to the Morgue, around which, as night came on, a clamorous crowd was gathered, seeking admission, to look after their dead friends. A similar crowd gathered at the door of the Mount Sinai Hospital, filling the air with cries and lamentations. As darkness settled over the city, wild, rough looking men from the lowest ranks of society gathered in the street where the slaughter took place, among whom were seen bare-headed women roaming about, making night hideous with their curses. A pile of dead men's hats stood on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Twenty-fifth Street untouched, and pale faces stooped over pools of blood on the pavement. The stores were all shut; and everything wore a gloomy aspect. The police stood near, revealed in the lamplight, but made no effort to clear the street. It seemed at one time that a serious outbreak would take place, but the night passed off quietly, and the riot was ended, and the mob once more taught the terrible lesson it is so apt to forget.Two of the police and military were killed, and twenty-four wounded; while of the rioters thirty-one were killed, and sixty-seven wounded making in all one hundred and twenty-eight victims.