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George Washington Walling

To Protect And Serve, The Mayor's Office, A City In Crisis The Conscription Act

Born May 1, 1823 (New York)

Died December 31, 1891 (New York)

New York City police chief

George Washington Walling was the police chief of New York City from July 1874 until June 1885. Walling gained a reputation as a tough but fair and honest law officer during his decades on the force. He was elevated to the position of chief of police because of his personal heroics during the New York City Draft Riots of 1863 while serving as captain of the twentieth precinct on the lower West Side of the city. His able leadership helped restore order to a city in crisis during the American Civil War (1861–65; war in the United States between the Union [North], who was opposed to slavery, and the Confederacy [South], who was in favor of slavery). Throughout his law career Walling worked toward bringing professionalism to the New York police force by freeing it from connections to corrupt city politics. Professionalism in policing made giant strides in the later half of the nineteenth century due to the work of Walling and others.

"All the sneaks, hypocrites and higher grade of criminals . . . almost invariably lay claim to be adherents of the Republican Party . . . criminals of the lower order, those who rob by violence and brute force, lay claim . . . to . . . true Democratic principles."

For More Information


Astor, Gerald. The New York Cops: An Informal History. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.

Bernstein, Iver. The New York City Draft Riots: Their Significance for American Society and Politics in the Age of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

McCague, James. The Second Rebellion: The Story of the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. New York: Dial Press, Inc., 1968.

Walling, George W. Recollections of a New York City Chief of Police. New York: Caxton Book Concern Limited, 1887.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law