Dead Rabbits Riot

The Dead Rabbits Riot was a two-day civil disturbance in New York City resulting from what was originally a small-scale street fight between members of the Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Boys into a citywide gang war which lasted from July 4–5, 1857. Taking advantage of the disorganized state of the city's police force, brought about by the conflict between the Municipal and Metropolitan police, the fighting would spiral into widespread looting and damage of property by gangsters and other criminals from all parts of the city. It is estimated that between 800 and 1,000 gang members took part in the riots, along with several hundred others who used the disturbance to loot the Bowery area. It was the largest disturbance since the Astor Place Riot in 1849, and the biggest scene of gang violence, unsurpassed until the New York Draft Riots of 1863. Order was restored only by the New York State Militia, supported by detachments of city police, under Major-General Charles W. Sandford.

The riot was a culmination of the gang violence between the Five Pointers and the Bowery gangs, fueled by the decade-long conflict between the Democratic-supported Tammany Hall and the nativist Know Nothing Party, dating as far back as the 1840s. It also caused serious and far-reaching political changes including the downfall of Captain Isaiah Rynders as a ward boss of the "Bloody Ould Sixth" in favor of John Morrissey.

During the next few years, between the time of the Dead Rabbits Riot and the New York Draft Riots, the power of the older "Paradise" and "Chatham Square" street gangs would decline and break up in the post-American Civil War era.

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Dead Rabbits Riot - In Popular Culture
... A poetry book by Richard Griffin, The Dead Rabbit Riot, A.D ... The Dead Rabbit Riot was featured in the History Channel documentary television series History's Mysteries in 1998 ... The Dead Rabbits, the Five Points, and a large riot are portrayed in the movie "Gangs of New York," though the motivation for the violence was the Civil War draft ...

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