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required; while poor men who could not pay it would be compelled, at whatever hardships to themselves and their families, to enter the army. The draft was commenced in the city of New York on Saturday, July 11th, and was conducted quietly and successfully during that day. On Sunday plots were formed and combinations entered into to resist it; and no sooner was it resumed on Monday morning, July 13, than sudden and formidable attack was made by an armed mob upon
the office in one of the districts; the wheel was destroyed, the lists scattered, and the building set on fire. The excitement spread through the city. Crowds gathered everywhere, with no apparent common object; but during the day the movement seemed to be controlled by leaders in two general directions. The first was an attack upon the negroes; the second an assault upon every one who was supposed to be in any way concerned in the draft, or prominently identified, officially or otherwise, with the Admioistration or the Republican party. Unfortunately, the militia regiments of the city had been sent to Pennsylvania to withstand the rebel invasion; and the only guardians left for the public peace were the regular police and a few hundred soldiers who garrisoned the forts. Both behaved with the greatest vigor and fidelity, but they were too few to protect the dozen miles between the extremities of the city. The mob, dispersed in one quarter, would reassemble at another, and for four days the city seemed given up to their control. The outrages committed during this tiine were numerous and aggravated. Negroes were assaulted, beaten to death, mutilated, and hung; building after building was sacked and burned; gangs of desperadoes patrolled the streets, levying contributions, and ordering places of business to be closed. A Colored Orphan Asylum, sheltering some hundreds of children, was sacked and burned. After the first day the riot, which was at first directed against the draft, took a new turn. The entire mass of scoundrelism in the city seemed to have been let loose for indiscriminate plunder. Wonen, half-grown boys, and children, were foreinost in the work of robbery, and no man felt safe from attack. The police force did their duty manfully, aided at first by the few troops at the disposal of the authorities, and subsequently by the regiments who began to return from Pennsylvania. In the street fights which occurred many of the defenders of law and order lost their lives, while a far larger number of the rioters were killed. The bands of rioters were finally dispersed, and the peace of the city was restored.
During these occurrences the draft was necessarily suspended; and on the 3d of August, Governor Seymour addressed a long letter to the President, asking that further proceedings under the draft might be postponed until it should be seen whether the number required from the State of New York could not be raised by volunteering, and also until the constitutionality of the law could be tested in the judicial tribunals of the country. The Governor pointed out an alleged injustice in the application of the law, by which, in four districts of the State of New York a far higher quota in proportion to the population was required than in the other districts of the State; and this was urged as an additional reason for postponing the further execution of the law.
To this appeal the President, on the 7th of August, made the following reply:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, August 7, 1863. His Excellency, HORATIO SEYMOUR,
Governor of New York, Albany, N. Y.: Your communication of the 3d inst., has been received and attentively considered. I cannot consent to suspend the draft in New York, as you request, because, among other reasons, TIME is too important. By the figures you send, which I presume are correct, the twelve districts represented fall in two classes of eight and four respectively.
The disparity of the quotas for the draft in these two classes is certainly very striking, being the difference between an average of 2,200 in one class, and 4,861 in the other. Assurning that the districts are equal, one
to another, in entire population, as required by the plau on which they were made, this disparity is such as to require attention. Much of it, however, I suppose will be accounted for by the fact that so many more persons fit for soldiers are in the city than are in the country, who have too recently arrived from other parts of the United States and from Europe to be either included in the census of 1860, or to have voted in 1862. Still, making due allowance for this, I am yet unwilling to stand upon it as an entirely sufficient explanation of the great disparity. I shall direct the draft to proceed in all the districts, drawing, however, at first from each of the four districts—to wit, the Second, Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth -only, 2,200, being the average quota of the other class. After this drawing, these four districts, and also the Seventeenth and Twenty-ninth, shall be carefully re-enrolled ; and, if you please, agents of yours may witness every step of the process. Any deficiency which may appear by the new enrolment will be supplied by a special draft for that object, allowing due credit for volunteers who may be obtained from these districts respectively during the interval; and at all points, so far as consistent with practical convenience, due credits shall be given for volunteers, and your Excellency shall be notified of the time fixed for commencing a draft in each district.
I do not object to abide a decision of the United States Supreme Court, or, of the Judges thereof, on the constitutionality of the draft law. In fact, I should be willing to facilitate the obtaining of it. But I cannot consent to lose the time while it is being obtained. We are contending with an enemy who, as I understand, drives every able-bodied man he can reach into his ranks, very much as a butcher drives bullocks into a slaughter-pen. No time is wasted, no argument is used. This produces an army which will soon turn upon our now victorious soldiers already in the field, if they shall not be sustained by recruits as they should be. It produces an army with a rapidity not to be matched on our side, if we first waste time to re-experiment with the volunteer system, already deemed by Congress, and palpably, in fact, so far exhausted as to be inadequate; and then more time to obtain a Court decision as to whether a law is coustitutional which requires a part of those not now in the service to go to the aid of those who are already in it; and still more time to determine with absolute certainty that we get those who are to go in the precisely legal proportion to those who are not to go. My purpose is to be in my action just and constitutional, and yet practical, in performing the important duty with which I am charged, of maintaining the unity and the free principles of our common country. Your obedient servant,
On the 8th Governor Seymour replied, reasserting the unfair. ness and injustice of the enrolments, and expressing his regret at the President's refusal to postpone the draft. He also sent a voluminous statement prepared by Judge-Advocate Waterbury, designed to sustain the position he had previously assumed. To this the President thus replied :
} His Excellency HORATIO SEYMOUR,
Governor of New York: Yours of the 8th, with Judge-Advocate General Waterbury's report, was received to-day.
Asking you to remember that I consider time as being very important, both to the general cause of the country and to the soldiers in the field, I beg to remind you that I waited, at your request, from the 1st until the 6th inst. to receive your communication dated the 3d. In view of its gréat length, and the known time and apparent care taken in its preparation, I did not doubt that it contained your full case as you desired to present it. It contained the figures for twelve districts, omitting the other nineteen, as I supposed, because you found nothing to complain of as to them. I answered accordingly. In doing so I laid down the principle to which I purpose adhering, which is to proceed with the draft, at the same time employing infallible means to avoid any great wrong. With the communication received to-day you send figures for twenty-eight districts, including the twelve sent before, and still omitting three, for which I suppose the enrolments are not yet received. In looking over the fuller list of twenty-eight districts, I find that the quotas for sixteen of them are above 2,000 and below 2,700, while of the rest, six are above 2,700 and six are below 2,000. Applying the principle to these new facts, the Fifth and Seventh Dis. tricts must be added to the four in which the quotas have already been reduced to 2,200 for the first draft; and with these four others must be added to those to be re-enrolled. The correct case will then stand: the quotas of the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Districts fixed at 2, 200 for the first draft. The Provost-Marshal General informs me that the drawing is already completed in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Fourth, TwentySixth, Twenty-Seventh, Twenty-Eighth, Twenty-Ninth, and Thirtieth Districts. In the others, except the three outstanding, the drawing will be made upon the quotas as now fixed. After the first draft, tho
Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Twenty-First, Twenty-Fifth, Twenty-Niuth, and Thirty-First will be enrolled for the purpose, and in the manner stated in my letter of the 7th inst. The same principle will be applied to the now outstanding districts when they shall come in. No part of my former letter is repudiated by reason of not being restated in this, or for any other causo.
Your obedient servant,
A. LINCOLN. The draft in New York was resumed on the 19th of August, and as ample preparations had been made for the preservation of the public peace, it encountered no further opposition. In every other part of the country the proceedings were conducted and completed without resistance.
Some difficulty was experienced in Chicago, and the Mayor and Comptroller of that city addressed the President on the subject of alleged frauds in the enrolment, and received the following dispatch in reply:
WASHINGTON, August 27, 1863. F. C. SHERMAN, Mayor; J. S. HAYS, Comptroller : Yours of the 24th, in relation to the draft
, is received. It seems to me the government here will be overwhelmed if it undertakes to conduct these matters with the authorities of cities and counties. They must be conducted with the Governors of States, who will, of course, represent their cities and counties. Meanwhile, you need not be uneasy until you again hear from here.
A. LINCOLN, Subsequently, in reply to further representations on the subject, the same gentlemen received the following:
WASHINGTON, August 7, 1863. Yours of August 29th just received. I suppose it was intended by Congress that this Court should execute the act in question without dependence upon any other Government, State, City, or County. It is, however, within the range of practical convenience to confer with the Governments of States, while it is quite beyond that range to have correspondence on the subject with counties and cities. They are too numerous. As instances, I have corresponded with Gov. Seymour, but not with Mayor Opdyke; with Gov. Curtin, but not with Mayor Henry.