War of the Rebellion: Serial 044 Page 0933 Chapter XXXIX. DRAFT RIOTS IN NEW YORK CITY, ETC.

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[Inclosure Numbers 4.]

UTICA, July 15, 1863.

Honorable WM. H. SEWARD:

DEAR SIR: Allow me to make a suggestion relative to the present threatening aspect of affairs in this and other Northern States. The bloodthirsty ruffians and thieves who are pillaging, murdering, firing, and stealing in the city of New York, are doing more mischief by their example in other places than by their devastations in New York. Almost everywhere meetings of Germans and Irish are being held to concoct measures to resist the draft, and the evil threatens to become spread over the whole country outside of the New England States. In the meetings just held by them in this city, no opposition to the draft, if conducted according to what they considered to be the principles of justice and equity, was expressed. The offensive feature was declared to be the privilege allowed to the rich to escape military service by the payment of the $300; a feature, they said, which was introduced into the conscription act expressly to relieve such persons, and which made even members of Congress willing to expose themselves to the draft, intending both to make a show of patriotism and to relieve themselves from it, if drafted. Of course, it is in vain to reason with men whose interests are so deeply involved, and who are unable to pay any sum, and it is clear that the authority of the Government must be maintained; for to yield to the opposition will be to destroy the confidence of the world in the stability of our institutions, and to succumb to this Copperhead device will be to ruin the Administration. It seems to me that there is one way, and an effectual one, to disarm the opposition of all the honest opponents of the law, and to meet the seeming injustice of that exemptive provision. It is this: The statute expresses the object of the $300 provision to be, the procuration of a substitute for the person paying it; and it directs that he may pay to such person as the Secretary of War may authorize to receive it, such sum, not exceeding $300, as the Secretary may determine. Correctly understood, then, in authorizes the Secretary to designate an agent for the drafted men, who shall procure substitutes for such as pay a given sum. Now, let the Secretary take the responsibility of saying, what it was once generally understood he did say, that he will not designate any such agent nor price; that each man drafted must serve or provide his own substitute, at such price as he can best arrange for, whether more or less than the largest sum fixed by law, and revoke the authority given to the tax collectors to receive the exemption fee. As the authority given the Secretary by the act is not imperative, he has the right to do this; and if there be any doubt, let him assume the responsibility of taking away all seemingly just cause for public irritation. Then the whole people will rally around the Government, with a full determination to uphold the law, without being weakened in their purpose by being compelled to admit that there is the appearance of oppression against the malcontents. The question before us is, Shall the fair North become a field of intestine war, or shall peace prevail, for intestine war is upon us. The importance of the subject has induced me to trespass upon your time.

I am, yours, respectfully,

THEO. SPENCER.