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In Pursuit of PrivilegeA History of New York City's Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis$
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Clifton Hood

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172165

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172165.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

All for the Union

All for the Union

The 1860s

(p.136) 4 All for the Union
In Pursuit of Privilege

Clifton Hood

Columbia University Press

For all the social chaos that phenomenal economic growth and heavy immigration had produced earlier in the century, upper-class New Yorkers had generally been optimistic that hoi polloi possessed enough self-control and independence to take direction from their betters and accept their proper place in the body politic. But the New York City draft riots of 1863 – the worse urban disorder in American history – seemed to show that entire communities lacked the self-discipline and orderliness required of the citizenry of a democratic nation and instead were prone to a savagery that had ripped the city apart. Drawing on their memories of the draft riots and on Victorian cultural values, the upper class utilized the Civil War to counter the blurring of class boundaries and social credentials caused by urban growth of the first half of the century. They came to classify came to classify many workers and immigrants as dangerous classes that threatened the social order- and themselves as a community of heritage and feeling that provided leadership in government, the economy, and society. At bottom these representations involved social control, and upper-class people used them to help harden class lines and gain an understanding of themselves and the rest of urban society that was coherent and compelling.

Keywords:   New York City draft riots, Union League Club, dangerous classes, Victorianism, war economy, national financial center

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