Photo credits: Granger
The Detroit Free Press referred to these events as “the deadliest day that ever dawned upon Detroit” at the time. It started as a result of working-class anger over racism and military conscription, which was exacerbated when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Based in a free state, some new white migrants and their white employees disliked being enlisted for a war they believed was being conducted for the benefit of slaves in the South.
With a searing passion, they fiercely dreaded competition from Black people.
At least two citizens, one white and one black, were slain, and countless more, predominantly African Americans, were severely assaulted and maimed. In all, 35 buildings were destroyed by fire, with many more damaged, and Black people lost property and cash as a result of the angry white mob’s looting and theft. Losses were projected to range from $15,000 to $20,000 (equal to $420,378 in 2020). More than 200 persons, predominantly African-Americans, were left homeless. Despite the fact that the Michigan Legislature suggested compensation, the Detroit City Council rejected it.
As a consequence of the riot, Detroit developed a full-time police department that was controlled by whites until the late twentieth century.