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

To Horatio Seymour [1]

Governor Seymour Executive Mansion,
New-York: Washington, August 16, 1863.

Your despatch of this morning is just received; and, I, fear I do not perfectly understand it.

My view of, the principle is that every soldier obtained voluntarily, leaves one less to be obtained by draft. The only difficulty is, in applying the principle properly. Looking to time, as heretofore I am unwilling to give up a drafted man now, even for the certainty, much less for the mere chance, of getting a volunteer hereafter.

Again, after the draft in any District would it not make trouble to take any drafted man out and put a volunteer in; for how shall it be determined, which drafted man is to have, the previlege of thus going out, to the exclusion of all the others?

And even before the draft in any District the quota must be fixed; and the draft might be postponed indefinitely, if every time a volunteer is offered the officers must stop and reconstruct the quota. At least I fear there might be this difficulty; but, at all events let credits for volunteers be given up to the last moment, which will not produce confusion or delay.

That, the principle of giving credits for volunteers shall be applied by Districts seems fair and proper, though I do not know how far, by present statistics, it is practicable. When, for any cause, a fair credit is not given at one time, it should be given as soon thereafter as practicable.

My purpose is to be just and fair; and yet to not lose time.


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[1]   ALS, RPB. Governor Seymour telegraphed at 9:30 A.M. on August 16: ``In view of the uncertainty as to the quotas which may be required from the several Congressional districts . . . there is a doubt by many as to whether volunteers now recruited will be available to reduce the quotas as they may be ultimately adjusted. This doubt interferes with the recruiting of volunteers. I therefore request that volunteers heretofore recruited and mustered . . . shall be accepted as substitutes for such conscripts residing in the same Congressional districts, whether now drawn or heretofore drawn, as may be designated by the State authorities. I am satisfied that such an arrangement will secure immediately a large number of volunteers.'' (OR, III, III, 681).