LINCOLN, Abraham. Partly printed document signed ("Abraham Lincoln") as President, a circular letter setting a quota for the draft in the 28th District of New York, Washington, D.C., 28 July 1863. 1 page, 4to, text in italic type, accomplished by a clerk. In exceptionally fresh condition.
LINCOLN ISSUES A DRAFT CALL FOR NEW YORK, IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH OF THE INFAMOUS NEW YORK CITY DRAFT RIOTS
A document signed a few weeks after the fall of Vicksburg, the Union victory at Gettysburg and, more to the point, the bloody New York Draft Riots. By the second year of the war, enlistments had slowed to a mere trickle: "The men likely to enlist for patriotic reasons or adventure...were already in the army. War weariness and the grim realities of of army life discouraged further volunteering" (MacPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, p.600). The Enrollment Act of March 1863 was intended to fill the army's depleted muster rolls (see notes to previous lot).
The text reads: "I, Abraham Lincon...do hereby assign [2,177] as the first proportional part of the quota of troops to be furnished by the 28th District of the State of New York...under the act approved March 3, 1863..."
The draft created an immediate backlash in the North: minor disturbances toook place in Rutland, Vermont; Boston; Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Wooster, Ohio. There was a strong undercurrent of resistance in New York City, with its huge population of immigrants, especially over the provision that those who could afford to, might hire substitutes to serve in their place. When the drawing of draft lots began, on July 13, at the Headquartes of the 9th Congressional District, a mob sacked the bulding went on to destroy draft offices elsewhere in the city and attacked firemen and police, setting fires and lynching free blacks. The conflagration raged for a full four days, causing some 1,000 casualties, before militia restored order at the point of the bayonet.
The 28th district of New York, to which this document refers, was a considerable distance from riot-torn New York City: encompassing the cities of Buffalo, Rochester and Niagara Falls it was a slender district bordering Lake Ontario on the north and Canada on the west.