President Mobilizes Republican Forces for House Vote

October 31, 1863

President Lincoln continues his efforts to make sure that validly-elected congressmen are not excluded from voting in the congressional reorganization in December.  He writes Rhode Island Senator William Sprague: “There is danger that the above act of congress, intended to exclude improper applicants from seats, will be used to exclude proper ones. I propose that yourself, Senator Anthony and the Governor  maturely consider the subject, and frame credentials for the members in two or three different forms, and bring them on with you to be used if needed. The form on the other half of this sheet will perhaps answer for one. Let it be done qu[i]etly, as publicity might increase the danger. The members themselves need not to know of it.”

President Lincoln wrote a memorandum concerning Union soldiers operating in New York in support of the draft law: “The Provost-Marshal-General has issued no proclamation at all.  He has, in no form, announced anything recently in regard to troops in New-York, except in his letter to Governor Seymour of October 21st. which has been published in the newspapers of that State.  It has not been announced nor decided, in any form, by the Provost Marshal-General, or any one else in authority of the government, that every citizen who has paid his three hundred dollars commutation, is liable to be immediately drafted again, or that towns that have just raised the money to pay their quotas will have again to be subject to similar taxation or suffer the operation of the new conscription, nor is it probably that the like of these ever will be announced or decided.”

Maryland Governor Thomas Bradford writes President Lincoln regarding upcoming elections and his differences with Union forces led by General Robert C. Schenck: “Rumors are today current, and they reach me in such a shape that I am bound to believe them, that detachments of Soldiers are to be dispatched on Monday next to several of the Counties of the State with the view of being present at their Polls on Wednesday next, the day of our State Election – These troops are not residents of the State and consequently are not sent for the purpose of voting, and as there is no reason in my opinion to apprehend any riotous or violent proceedings at this Election, the inferrence is unavoidable that these Military detachments if sent are expected to exert some control or influence in that Election.”

I am also informed that orders are to be issued from this Military Department on Monday presenting certain restrictions or qualifications in the right of Suffrage — of what precise character I am not apprised — which the Judges of Election will be expected to observe.

From my knowledge of your sentiments on these subjects as expressed to Hon: R Johnson in my presence on 22d Inst, as also disclosed in your letter of instructions to Genl Schofield since published, in referrence to the Missouri Election, I can not but think that the orders above referred to are without your personal knowledge, and I take the liberty of calling the subject to your attention and invoking your interposition to countermand them. I can not but feel that to suffer any Military interference in the matter of our Election or to prescribe any test oath to voters, when all the Candidates in the State with the exception perhaps of two or three in one Congressional District, are all loyal men, would be justly obnoxious to the public sentiment of the State. There are other reasons why such proceedings would appear as an offensive discrimination against our State. Our Citizens are aware that highly important Elections have recently taken place in other States, without, as it is believed, any such interference by the Government authorities; and if voters by hundreds of thousands have been allowed to be cast there without objection and with no limit upon the Elective franchise other than the State laws prescribe, and where one at least of the Candidates so supported was considered so hostile to the Government that for months past he has been banished from the Country, certainly any such interference as between the loyal men now Candidates in this State, would under such comparison, be more justly objectionable and find nothing in the present Condition of things here to justify it.

I rely therefore upon your Excellency for such an order as will prevent it.

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Published in: on October 31, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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