After hearing Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and conscription orders, white Detroiters used the trial of William Faulkner as a catalyst to destroy property within black neighborhoods. Two were killed, hundreds injured.
The riot was one of many riots across the country in response to the Enrollment Act of Conscription. Similar to the riot in New York, the Detroit riot was in response to race and class tension surrounding the issues of slavery, draft exemption, and employment. The Detroit Free Press is accused of inciting resentment against African Americans.
The riot resulted in the creation of a full-time police force for Detroit.
Detroit Draft Riot, courtesy of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Ironically, the two girls recanted their testimony and seven years later William Faulkner was releasted from prison. 3:24 minutes.
LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.: TRIAL OF THE NEGRO FAULKNER. Detroit Free Press, March 6, 1863, p. 1 Courtesy of Proquest Historical Newspapers.
LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.: TRIAL OF THE NEGRO FAULKNER. Conclusion of the Case and Arguments for the Defense. The Jury Immediately Return a Verdit of “Guilty.” HE IS SENTENCED TO THE STATE PRISON FOR LIFE. INTENSE EXCITMENT. Detroit Free Press, March 7, 1863, p. 1 Courtesy of Proquest Historical Newspapers.
A BLOODY RIOT.: The Provost Guard Fire Upon a Defenseless Crowd. ONE MAN KILLED AND MANY WOUNDED. Assault upon a Negro Hovel and Murder of the Inmates. A BLOOD-THIRSTY AND UNMANAGEABLE MOB. The City Fired in Twenty Places. THE MILITARY OUT TO SUPPRESS THE RIOT. The Twenty-Seventh Regiment Summoned ffom Ypsilanti. Patrol Guards Established Throughout the city. THE GREATEST EXCITEMENT EVER KNOWN IN DETROIT. Detroit Free Press, March 7, 1863, p. 1 Courtesy of Proquest Historical Newspapers.
THE GREAT RIOT.: Thirty-five Buildings Destroyed. NO NEGROES KILLED. The Wounded Rapidly Recovering. Outside Reports and Street Rumors Greatly Exaggerated. EFFICIENT SERVICE OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. A Large Police Force Guarding the City. PROCLAMATION OF THE MAYOR. Detroit Free Press, March 8, 1863, p. 1 Courtesy of Proquest Historical Newspapers.
Steve Neavling, “Today in history: White mobs attacked blacks during Detroit race riot of 1863“, Motor City Muckracker, March 6, 2017.
Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State by Willis Frederick Dunbar.
Matthew Kundinger, Racial Rhetoric: The Detroit Free Press and Its Part in the Detroit Race Riot of 1863, Michigan Journal of History.
But wait, wasn’t there a race riot in Detroit back in 1833? See June 17, 1833 : Thorton Blackbird and his Wife Lucie, Runaway Slaves, Rescued by Detroit African Americans