The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 6 by Abraham Lincoln
Telegram to Governor Seymour. August 16, 1863.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, AUGUST 16, 1863.
GOVERNOR SEYMOUR, New York:
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 privilege 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 must 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.