Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.

The situation certainly was not to be considered without solicitude when, in a war which peculiarly appealed to patriotism, compulsion must be used to bring involuntary recruits to maintain the contest.  Yet the relaxation of the patriotic temper was really not so great as this fact might seem to indicate.  Besides many partial and obvious explanations, one which is less obvious should also be noted.  During two years of war the people, notoriously of a temperament readily to accept new facts and to adapt themselves thereto, had become accustomed to a state of war, and had learned to regard it as a condition, not normal and permanent, yet of indefinite duration.  Accordingly they were now of opinion that the government must charge itself with the management of this condition, that is to say, with the conduct of the war, as a strict matter of business, to be carried on like all other public duties and functions.  In the first months of stress every man had felt called upon to contribute, personally, his own moral, financial, and even physical support; but that crisis had passed, and it was now conceived that the administration might fairly be required to arrange for getting men and money and supplies in the systematic and business-like fashion in which, as history taught, all other governments had been accustomed to get these necessaries in time of war.

At any rate, however it was to be explained or commented upon, the fact confronted Mr. Lincoln that he must institute enrollment and drafting.  The machinery was arranged and the very disagreeable task was entered upon early in the summer of 1863.  If it was painful in the first instance for the President to order this, the process was immediately made as hateful as possible for him.  Even loyal and hearty “war-governors” seemed at once to accept as their chief object the protection of the people of their respective States from the operation of the odious law.  The mercantile element was instantly and fully accepted by them.  The most patriotic did not hesitate to make every effort to have the assigned quotas reduced; they drew jealous comparisons to show inequalities; and they concocted all sorts of schemes for obtaining credits.  Not marshaling recruits in the field, but filling quotas upon paper, seemed a legitimate purpose; for the matter had become one of figures, of business, of competition, and all the shrewdness of the Yankee mind was at once aroused to gain for one’s self, though at the expense of one’s neighbors.  Especially the Democratic officials were viciously fertile in creating obstacles.  The fact that the Act of Congress was based on the precedent of an Act of the Confederate Congress, passed a year before, did not seem in the least to conciliate the Copperheads.  Governor Seymour of New York obtained a discreditable preeminence in thwarting the administration.  He gathered ingenious statistics, and upon them based charges of dishonest apportionments and of fraudulent

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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