6. There Was a Huge Civil War Rally in Union Square
The 1861 rally in Union Square. Image from Library of Congress
A variety of heated protests have occurred within Union Square over the years, and this reputation actually started during the Civil War. On April 20, 1861, just seven days after the start of the Civil War, about 100,000 people gathered in support of the Union, near the place where the George Washington statue used to be.
Before this, the Union had surrendered and experienced huge losses at Fort Sumter. Major Robert Anderson, who lowered the flag in surrender, then brought it to the rally and placed it in the hands of the George Washington statue. At the rally, distinguished men spoke from five stands around the square. This was the largest public gathering ever organized in the U.S. at the time.