Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
discrimination against Democratic precincts.  He also declared the statute unconstitutional, and asked the President to stay all proceedings under it until it could be passed upon by the Supreme Court of the United States,—­an ingenuous proposition, which he neglected to make practicable by arranging with General Lee to remain conveniently quiescent while the learned judges should be discussing the methods of reinforcing the Northern armies.

In a word, Mr. Lincoln was confronted by every difficulty that Republican inventiveness and Democratic disaffection could devise.  Yet the draft must go on, or the war must stop.  His reasonableness, his patience, his capacity to endure unfair trials, received in this business a demonstration more conspicuous than in any other during his presidency.  Whenever apportionments, dates, and credits were questioned, he was liberal in making temporary, and sometimes permanent allowances, preferring that any error in exactions should be in the way of moderation.  But in the main business he was inflexible; and at last it came to a direct issue between himself and the malcontents, whether the draft should go on or stop.  In the middle of July the mob in New York city tested the question.  The drafting began there on Saturday morning, July 11.  On Monday morning, July 13, the famous riot broke out.  It was an appalling storm of rage on the part of the lower classes; during three days terror and barbarism controlled the great city, and in its streets countless bloody and hideous massacres were perpetrated.  Negroes especially were hanged and otherwise slain most cruelly.  The governor was so inefficient that he was charged, of course extravagantly, with being secretly in league with the ringleaders.  A thousand or more lives, as it was roughly estimated, were lost in this mad and brutal fury, before order was again restored.  The government gave the populace a short time to cool, and then sent 10,000 troops into the city and proceeded with the business without further interruption.  A smaller outbreak took place in Boston, but was promptly suppressed.  In other places it was threatened, but did not occur.  In spite of all, the President continued to execute the law.  Yet although by this means the armies might be kept full, the new men were very inferior to those who had responded voluntarily to the earlier calls.  Every knave in the country adopted the lucrative and tolerably safe occupation of “bounty-jumping,” and every worthless loafer was sent to the front, whence he escaped at the first opportunity to sell himself anew and to be counted again.  The material of the army suffered great depreciation, which was only imperfectly offset by the improvement of the military machine, whereby a more effective discipline, resembling that of European professionalism, was enforced.[51]


[48] N. and H. vi. 268; this account is derived from their twelfth chapter.

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