LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph endorsement signed ("A. Lincoln"), as President, 3 November 1863, with autograph endorsement of SECRETARY OF WAR EDWIN M. STANTON, plus endorsements of other military officials. These on the verso of Caldinen Graydon's autograph check, Frankurt, Ky., 1 September 1863, for $300 payable to "his Excellency Abraham Lincoln," for the account of Joseph Graydon. 1 page, oblong (3/7/8 x 9 in.), revenue and "paid" stamps on recto, endorsed by Lincoln (2 lines) on verso.
BUYING HIS WAY OUT OF THE DRAFT, a New York resident, Joseph Graydon of 43 Chambers Street, has his $300 commutation fee paid for by a Frankfurt Kentucky relative, who (for some reason) has made the draught payable to the Commander-in-Chief. Lincoln duly endorses the check to Stanton ("Pay to Order of Secretary of War"); Stanton in turn passes it to the Provost Marshal General James Fry, "to procure a substitute." Several other hands pass on the check until it finally reaches the man who shouldered the rifle and pack in place of Graydon, one George Inness.
If Graydon lived in Chambers Street in July 1863, he would have witnessed a week of deadly rioting on the part of mainly Irish immigrant workers against the draft. Bitterly denouncing "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight," the rioters resented the ways in which the wealthy and prosperous like Graydon (along with future President Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt's father) were able to buy their way out of the draft call. The Federal government recorded some 86,724 men who paid for a substitute. The demand gave a brisk trade to immigration agents who brought over boatloads of men willing to take the fee. While the practice inspired derisive songs like "We Are Coming Father Abraham, Three Hundred Dollars More," there was, in fact, "no stigma attached to the man who stayed out of combat, however he went about it short of actual dodging or desertion" (Foote, 2:151, 635). Even the rioters who sacked the draft office in New York would have been glad to avail themselves of the option if they could have afforded it. Only in the late 19th and early 20th century, when the war took on a much more romantic hue in American memory, did substitution acquire a dishonorable taint.