The Astor Place Riot Of 1849: The Consequences Of Incitement

One of the strangest and deadliest riots in New York history took place on May 10, 1849 outside an opera house in Manhattan.  Although its proximate cause—a jingoistic dispute between the egos of two actors—no longer commands our attention, the riot has many lessons to teach us today.  For it was a combustible mixture of media incitement, reckless demagoguery, and opportunism that lit the fuse for an explosion that would claim around thirty dead and one hundred twenty wounded.

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