The draft riots left New York and America a complex and ambiguous legacy. The Republican wartime government successfully marshaled enough regiments from the fields of Pennsylvania to suppress the riots on July 16-17, 1863. Lincoln and his advisors believed, with good reason, that an extended federal military supervision of New York would fail to restore order to the metropolis and might lead to recurring outbreaks. By not declaring martial law, the Republicans ended the violence, sustained conscription and the legitimacy of Republican rule, obtained enough men to preserve the momentum of the Union Army, and went on to win the war and receive the credit. But to accomplish this, Lincoln had to defer to conservative elites in New York by appointing Democratic financier John A. Dix as Commander of the Department of the East and sacrifice the ambitions of radical Republicans who saw martial law as an opportunity to reconstruct New York City. Dix's appointment not only confirmed New York as a Democratic city but suggested that there were strict limits to Republicans' national authority even at this early juncture, little more than two years after they took power. This early rebuke to Republican authority helps to explain why a radical, or "pure" Republican government did not come to power in the nation until 1866, and then, only for about two years, with license to proceed with military reconstruction not in New York, but only in the South. The national Republican government's "victory" during the draft riots also revealed the limited future prospects of radical rule.
Similarly, the conservatives who used the post-riot situation to secure their political power in New York City might have wondered, on deeper reflection, whether the draft riots did not augur their decline. For the conservatives, as for the radicals, the draft riot was a tale of two capitals: New York, the national economic capital with vaulting political aspirations, and Washington, the national political capital. Before the Civil War, the Democratic Party, led by metropolitan businessmen such as Dix and Belmont,