LINCOLN, Abraham. Partly printed document signed ("Abraham Lincoln") as President, the quota for the draft in the 3rd District of Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., 13 June 1863. 1 page, 4to (9¾ x 7¾ in.), integral blank. Fine condition.
LIGHTING THE FLAME OF HOMEFRONT DISCONTENT: LINCOLN'S DRAFT QUOTA AND THE DRAFT RIOTS
A draft call signed by Lincoln just one month before the violent eruption of the New York City Draft Riots, protesting Union conscription. By the second year of the war, enlistments had ebbed to a trickle and volunteers, plentiful at the outset of the war, were increasingly difficult to find: "The men likely to enlist for patriotic reasons or adventure or peer-group were already in the army. War weariness and the grim realities of army life discouraged further volunteering" (McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 600). The Enrollment Act of 1863 was adopted to fill the depleted muster rolls of the army. Although the draft was meant to encourage voluntary enlistment "both Lincoln and his Secretary of War hoped that enforcing the draft would win back the loyalty of the soldiers already in the field--would demonstrate that the government intended to haul in reinforcements and stand behind its armies regardless of how unpopular the war became back home" (Oates, With Malice Toward None, p. 371).
Here, as the army of Robert E. Lee threatened an invasion of the North, Lincoln signs a draft requisition for the 3rd District of Massachusetts: "I, Abraham Lincoln...do hereby assign [3,072] as the first proportional part of the quota of troops to be furnished by the Third district of the state of Massachusetts under this, the first call made by me on the State of Massachusetts, under the act approved March 3, 1863, entitled 'An Act for Enrolling and Calling out the National Forces, and for other purposes'."
The draft set off resistence and occasional civil disorder throughout the northern states. Ultimately, it failed to produce effective Union soldiers, but it did aid in influencing men to volunteer, for which they received a cash bounty for enlistment and were spared the stigma of being a draftee.