Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 6.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Horatio Seymour [1]

His Excellency Executive Mansion,
Horatio Seymour Washington,
Governor of the State of New-York. [August 15,] 1863

Whereas, by reason of unlawful combinations against the authority of the Government of the United States, it has become impracticable,Page  390 in my judgment, to enforce, by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, the laws of the United States, within therefore: I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do call forth the Militia of the State of New-York, to aid in suppressing said combinations and opposition to said laws. And I do respectfully request, and direct that, for this purpose, your Excellency do forthwith order Major General Sanford, with his command, to report for orders to Major General John A. Dix.



[1]   ALS, RPB. DS, IHi. See the similar undated order to Major General Edward S. Sanford, supra.

On July 30 Major General John A. Dix inquired of Governor Seymour ``whether the military power of the State may be relied on to enforce the execution of the [draft] law in case of forcible resistance to it. I am very anxious that there should be perfect harmony between the Federal Government and that of the State of New York, and if, under your authority to see the laws faithfully executed, I can feel assured . . . I need not ask the War Department to put at my disposal . . . troops in the service of the United States . . .'' (OR, III, III, 592). Failing to receive a reply, on August 12, Dix requested 10,000 federal troops and suggested the propriety of the president's calling out the state militia (ibid., pp. 672-74).

On August 15 Seymour answered Dix's letter of July 30, and Dix replied on August 18 as follows:

``I did not receive until last evening your letter of the 15th instant. [A footnote in the source designates the letter as `not found.'] Immediately on my arrival in this city on the 18th ultimo I called upon you with General Canby, and in a subsequent interview with you at my headquarters I expressed the wish that the draft in this state should be executed without the employment of the troops in the service of the United States. In a letter addressed to you on the 30th I renewed more formally the expression of this wish. . . . In the same spirit, when some of the provost-marshals in the interior applied to me for aid against threatened violence, I referred them to you. . . . It was my earnest wish that the Federal arm should neither be seen nor felt. . . . Not having received an answer from you, I applied to the Secretary of War on the 14th instant for a force adequate to the object. The call was promptly responded to and I shall be ready to meet all opposition to the draft. I trust, however, that your determination, of which your letter advises me, to `call into requisition the military power, if need be, to put down violations of good order, riotous proceedings, and disturbances of the public peace, as infractions of the laws of this State,' will render it unnecessary to use the troops. . . .'' (Ibid., p. 690).

Under date of August 15 (according to John Hay's Diary, on the night of August 14) Stanton wrote Dix as follows:

``Enclosed herewith I send you by the hands of Colonel Fry---

``1. A Proclamation by the President to be used by you in case of any necessity arising for the employment of military force to overcome unlawful combinations against the authority of the General Government in executing the Act of Congress to enroll and call out the National force. Of this necessity you are authorized to be judge, and if it arises, you will fill up the blanks and promulgate the Proclamation. The original with the Great Seal remains with the Archives of the Government in the State Department.

``2. A call upon the Governor of New York by the President, notifying him to issue orders to Major General Sanford (Charles W.) [sic]. The use of this paper is left to your discretion. It has occurred to the President that it may be proper and servicable to put upon Governor Seymour a call for assistance, andPage  391 let him render it or shoulder the responsibility of refusing. It is not supposed that this call is essential to the authority of the President, or that the assent or obedience of Governor Seymour affects the right or power of the President to issue an order to General Sanford directly. But it may be an expedient courtesy of which you are to judge and which you should have the means of employing if you think proper.

``A blank is left for you to fill up with the State of New York, or any specific districts, as the case may require, and also a blank for date to be filled.

``3. An order by the President upon General Sanford to report to you.

``The date and also the blank for state or specific districts are to be filled up.

``You will be apprised by the Provost Marshal General what reinforcements will be sent forward. He will confer with you. Any further aid or direction you may require, will on notice, be given you if in the power of the Government. . . .'' (Copy, DLC-Stanton Papers).

With Governor Seymour's co-operation, however, Dix found issuance of the proclamation and communications to Sanford and Seymour unnecessary. The draft commenced on August 19, with relative quiet.