New York Officials Send President Lincoln Advice about Draft

July 19, 1863

After a week of draft riots, New York Governor Horatio Seymour writes President Lincoln: “At my urgent request the Hon Samuel J. Tilden goes to Washington for the purpose of stating to you my views and wishes with regard to affairs in this State. He is thoroughly acquainted with my opinions and purposes– I trust you will give him an oppertunity to Communicate with you at length– I shall also address a letter to you in the course of a few days.”

New York attorney David Dudley Field writes President Lincoln: “ There is a very prevalent impression among the persons liable to the draft, that the act is unconstitutional. [Their] friends profess however entire willingness to abide by the decision of the courts– In consideration of these circumstances, I beg to add my recommendation to that of Govr. Andrew,1 that the question should be brought before the courts, at the earliest practicable moment.

Mr. Blake, whom I beg leave to introduce to you, is the son in law of Genl [John A.] Dix & the bearer of this letter will explain Govr. [John] Andrew’s views as to Massachusetts In respect to [N York] I would suggest, that the question be brought before the circuit court of the United States In the mean time I would proceed with the draft of course; as it will be time enough to pause when the act is declared unconstitutional, an event which I do not think will ever take place.

New York City Mayor George Opdyke writes: “We beg to urge upon you the adoption of the policy recommended in Mr Field’s letter of Sunday forwarded by Mr. Blake. That will indicate the authority and prestige of the Government while it will greatly lessen, if not entirely abate the opposition to the conscription.”

John Hay writes in his diary: “The President was in very good humour.  Early in the morning he scribbled this doggerel & gave it to me.  In the afternoon, he & I were talking about the position at Willamsport the order day.  He said ‘our Army held the war in the hollow of their hand & they would not close it.’ [A]gain he said, ‘We had gone through all the labor of tilling & planting an enormous crop & when it was ripe we did not harvest it.  Still’ he added ‘I am very grateful to Meade for the great service he did at Gettysburg.’”

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Published in: on July 19, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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