New York City, Lincoln & the Gettysburg Address

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Today marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

The speech, delivered during a dedication of a cemetery there, four and half months after the Battle of Gettysburg, is considered one of the best known in American history. The address is noted for the way it brought the ideals of human equality to the forefront, but it might not have been well received in New York. A variety of factors led to New York City being a well of pro-slavery sentiment.

About five months before the address, deadly draft riots erupted over New York. "There was a tornado of arson, lynchings, crashing windows of people's homes who were perceived to be pro Republican," said Harold Holzer, a Lincoln author and historian and the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.. "There was a lot of destruction in the scattered buildings where African-Americans lived downtown."

To hear a full interview with Holzer, click audio above.