Draft and Trade Concerns President Lincoln

July 25, 1863

President Lincoln writes to Navy Secretary Gideon Welles: “Certain matters have come to my notice, and considered by me, which induce me to believe, that it will conduce to the public interest for you to add to the general instruction given to our Naval Commanders, in relation to contraband trade, propositions substantially as follows, to wit:

‘1st. You will avoid the reality, and far as possible, the appearance, of using any neutral port, to watch neutral vessels, and then to dart out and seize them on their departure.

Note–Complaint is made that this has been practice at the Port of St. Thomas, which practice, if it exist, is disapproved, and must cease.

‘2nd.  You will not, in any case, detain the crew of a captured neutral vessel, or any other subject, of a neutral power on board such vessel, as prisoners of war, or otherwise, except the small number necessary as witnesses in the prize court.

‘Note–The practice here forbidden is also charged to exist, which, if true, is disapproved, and must cease.’

My dear Sir, it is not intended to be insinuated that you have been remiss in the performance of the arduous and responsible duties of your Department, which I take pleasure in affirming has, in your hands, been conducted with admirable success.  Yet while your subordinates are, almost of necessity, brought into angry collision with the subjects of foreign States, the representatives of those States and yourself do not come into immediate contact, for the purpose of keeping the peace, in spite of such collisions.  At that point there is an ultimate, and heavy responsibility upon me.

What I propose is in strict accordance with international law, and is therefore unobjectionable; while if it do no other good, it is will contribute to sustain a considerable portion of the present British Ministry in their places, who, if placed, are sure to be replaced by others more unfavorable to us.

President Lincoln writes New Jersey Governor Joel Parker: “ I have taken time, and considered and discussed the subject with the Secretary of War, and Provost-Marshall General, in order, if possible, to make you a more favorable answer than I finally find myself able to do. It is a vital point with us to not have a special stipulation with the Governor of any one State, because it would breed trouble in many, if not all other states; and my idea was, when I wrote you, as it still is, to get a point of time, to which we could wait, on the reason that we were not ready ourselves to proceed, and which might enable you to raise the quota of your state, in whole, or in large part, without the draft. The points of time you fix, are much further off than I had hoped. We might have got along in the way I have indicated for twenty, or possibly thirty days. As it stands, the best I can say is, that every volunteer you will present us within thirty days from this date, fit and ready to be mustered into the United States service, on the usual terms, shall be, pro-tanto – – an abatement of your quota of the draft. That quota I can now state at eight thousand, seven hundred and eighty three, (8783). No draft from New Jersey, other than for the above quota, will be made before an additional draft, common to the States, shall be required; and I may add, that if we get well through with this draft, I entertain a strong hope that any further one may never be needed. This expression of hope, however, must not be construed into a promise.”  He added: “As to conducting the draft by Townships. I find it would require such a waste of labor already done, and such an additional amount of it, and such a loss of time, as to make it, I fear, inadmissible.”

Presidential aide John Hay writes in his diary: “I rode out to Soldiers Home with the Tycoon President tonight.  Bob [Lincoln] was down the river with Seward.”  Earlier, Hay had meet with writer-officer Charles Halpine: “He tells me that Seymour is in a terrible state of nervous excitement [about New York draft problems].  That there is absolute danger of the loss of his wits.  He is tormented both by the terrible reminiscence of the riots & by the constant assertions of the Pres that he is concerned in a conspiracy of which the outbreak was a mismanaged portion.”

Published in: on July 25, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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