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Residents Gather for Spring Rye History Luncheon

RYE, N.Y. – Over 80 people gathered at the American Yacht Club in Rye on Thursday to take part in Rye Historical Society’s Annual Luncheon. The event, which is in its seventh year, featured a presentation on the New York Civil War draft riots from Civil War historian Barnet Schecter.

"We try to alternate between popular topics and alternate takes on history," Rye Historical Society Executive Director Sheri Jordan said. "I came across Barnet talking about Civil War draft riots and as I spoke with friends I realized it was a very little known part of New York history that has lasting implications."

Jordan, an admitted Civil War buff, said the event is important to achieving her goal of making history more accessible and engaging to the Rye community.

"It gives everybody a fun day out, and offers an opportunity to learn some unknown aspects of history in an engaging manner," Jordan said.

Schecter spoke about how the New York Civil War draft riots, which killed an estimated 500 people, acted as a platform or "the opening battle" for the Reconstruction era.

"Some consider it to be the most shameful moment in the history of New York," Schecter said. "It crystallizes the issues of the Civil War and the working class rebellion, and cast a long shadow into the future."

In addition to Schecter's talk, the event also featured various vendors selling everything from handcrafted jewelry to historical artifacts. With 20 percent of the sales going to the historical society, the event is technically categorized as a fundrasier. However, Jordan said that the true goal of the event was to provide an entertaining platform for people to engage the past.

"The real idea of it is to impart unique aspects of Rye and New York history," Jordan said. "History is very relevant, and it is important to learn and know your own history. At the same time nobody likes to be lectured so we do our best to keep it fun."

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