Appointments and Draft Concern President Lincoln

March 6, 1863

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles write: “Appointments considered yesterday and to-day.  Generally conceded that Field of California was the man for the Supreme Court.  The court of Claims seems a peace court.  The Court for the District is more important, and unfortunately the hearts and sympathies of the present judges are with the Rebels.”

General John C. Frémont meets at night with President Lincoln regarding a possible new command.  The next day, President Lincoln writes Secretary of Ward Edwin M. Stanton: “According to appointment I had a talk with Gen. Fremont last evening. I promised to try to have him told something definite by this evening. Please see Gen. Halleck to-day; and if you can get him half agreed, I agree.”

Indiana Governor Oliver O. Morton writes President Lincoln regarding the efficacy of the military draft: “Public feeling has greatly improved in the West within the last six weeks, but I fear the improvement is likely to receive a disastrous check from the construction given to the 13th Section of the Conscription Act, which permits a drafted man to relieve himself from the draft by the payment of $300.00 By this construction every man who can beg or borrow $300.00 can exempt himself from the draft and it will fall only upon those who are too poor to raise that sum. I can assure you that this feature in the Bill is creating much excitement and ill feeling towards the Government among the poorer classes generally, without regard to party and may if it is not subdued lead, to a popular storm under cover of which the execution of the Conscription Act may be greatly hindered or even defeated in some portions of the Country.”

Under this construction I am satisfied that the draft will not put into the ranks any democrat who is not working with the Union party. Already movements are on foot in the secret societies of Indiana and among the leaders of the disloyalists to raise money to purchase the exemption of every Democrat who may be drafted and who cannot raise the money himself; and already the boast is made that the Government shall not have one more of their men for the prosecution of this War.

The matter seems to me of so much importance that I have procured Col Rose,2 the Marshal of the State and Alfred Harrison and John L. Ketcham Esq’s gentlemen of the first respectability and intelligence as bearers of this letter to visit you and who can more fully inform you of the views and apprehensions entertained here.

From a careful reading of the Section I am of the opinion that a construction can be given to it without violence by which it is left discretionary with the Secretary of War to determine whether he will accept of any sum in discharge of the drafted man and that he may legitimately determine that he will not.

In my judgment, it is of the first importance that this construction if possible be immediately given to the Act, and published to the world before a current of feeling shall have set in against the Government.

In Indiana substitutes cannot be procured for Three hundred dollars ($300.00) in any number, if at all, and the rule should be that every drafted man should be required to serve unless he shall actually produce his substitute.

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Published in: on March 6, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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