Letter to Horatio Seymour (August 7, 1863)

Contributing Editors for this page include Susan Segal

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#147 on the list of 150 Most Teachable Lincoln Documents

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“…I do not object to abide a decision of the United States Supreme Court, or of the judges thereof, on the constitutionality of the draft law. In fact, I should be willing to facilitate the obtaining of it; but I can not consent to lose the time while it is being obtained.”

On This Date

HD Daily Report, August 7, 1863

 

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Executive Mansion, Washington, August 7, 1863
 
His Excellency Horatio Seymour 
Governor of New-York
 
Your communication of the 3rd. Inst. has been received, and attentively considered.
 
I can not consent to suspend the draft in New-York, as you request, because, among other reasons, time is too important.
 
…I do not object to abide a decision of the United States Supreme Court, or of the judges thereof, on the constitutionality of the draft law. In fact, I should be willing to facilitate the obtaining of it; but I can not consent to lose the time while it is being obtained. We are contending with an enemy who, as I understand, drives every able bodied man he can reach, into his ranks, very much as a butcher drives bullocks into a slaughter-pen. No time is wasted, no argument is used. This produces an army which will soon turn upon our now victorious soldiers already in the field, if they shall not be sustained by recruits, as they should be. It produces an army with a rapidity not to be matched on our side, if we first waste time to re-experiment with the volunteer system, already deemed by congress, and palpably, in fact, so far exhausted, as to be inadequate; and then more time, to obtain a court decision, as to whether a law is constitutional, which requires a part of those not now in the service, to go to the aid of those who are already in it; and still more time, to determine with absolute certainty, that we get those, who are to go, in the precisely legal proportion, to those who are not to go.
 
 
My purpose is to be, in my action, just and constitutional; and yet practical, in performing the important duty, with which I am charged, of maintaining the unity, and the free principles of our common country. 
 
Your Obt. Servt.
A. LINCOLN.
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