President Lincoln Responds to New York Governor on Draft Issues

August 11, 1863

In morning Cabinet meeting President discusses his response to New York Governor Horatio Seymour regarding New York’s draft problems.  Navy Secretary Gideon Welles comments: “At the Cabinet council the President read another letter from Governor Seymour. I have little respect for him. It may be politic for the President to treat him with respect in consequence of his position.”

President Lincoln has written to New York Governor Horatio Seymour after receiving what aide John Hay calls “another ponderous document accusing the draft of partizanship”: “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 already in the field, I beg to remind you that I waited, at your request, from the 1st till the 6th.  Inst. to receive your communication dated the 3rd.  In view of it’s great length, and the known time, and apparant care, taken in it’s great length, and the known time, and apparant care, taken in it’s preparation, I did not doubt that it contained your full case as you desired to present it.  It contained 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 lad 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 wrongs.  With the communication received to-day, you send figures for twenty eight Districts, including the twelve sent before, and still omitting three, from which I suppose the enrolments are not yet received.  In looking over this fuller list of twenty eight Districts, I find that the quotas for sixteen of them are above 2000 and six are below 2700, while, of the rest, six are above 2700 and six are below 2000.  Applying the principle to these new facts, the 5th and 7th. Districts must be added to the four in which the quotas have already been reduced to 2200 for the first draft; and, with these, four others must be added to those to be re-enrolled.

The corrected case will then stand:

The quotas of the 2nd. 4th. 5th. 6th. 7th. 7 8th. Districts fixed at 2200. for the first draft.

The Provost Marshal-General informs me that the drawing in already completed in 16th. 17th. 18th. 22nd. 24th. 26th. 27th. 28th. 29th. & 30th. Districts.

In the others, except the three outstanding, the drawing will be made upon the quotas as now fixed.

After the first draft, the 2nd. 4th. 5th. 6th. 7th. 8th. 16th. 17th. 21st. 25th. 29th & 31st Districts will be re-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 cause.

President Lincoln writes General George Meade: “Yesterday week I made known to Gen. [Joseph] Hooker our brief correspondence in regard to him. He seemed gratified with the kind spirit manifested by both of us; but said he was busy preparing a report, and would consider.

Yesterday he called again and said he would accept the offer if it was still open; would go at once if you desire; but would prefer waiting till the first of September, unless there was to be a battle, or you desired him to come sooner. I told him I would write you. Please answer.

Meade replied regarding the controversial and egotistical Hooker whom Meade had succeeded as commander of the Army of the Potomac: “You seem to think, or rather such is the inference left on my mind, that I have made an offer to Genl. Hooker & that I desire his assignment to this army. Now in the frankness, which has marked your letters, permit me to say, this is a mis-apprehension on your part. My position is purely one of acquiescence. I wrote you, that if you desired Genl. Hooker to have a command under me I should not object, but you will pardon me, if I call to your recollection, that the proposition originated with yourself that the offer when made was yours and that I have neither entertained nor expressed any desire upon the subject.

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Published in: on August 11, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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