and yourself say it is wrong, and that I had better at once announce a change in it, &c. I beg to call your attention to the following points:
First. All will agree that the object of the law is to raise men and not money. The fear that the practical working of the $300 clause might defeat the object of the law was, as you are aware, so great at one time as to incline many friends of the law, including some of those who helped to frame it, to favor a decision entirely disregarding this clause.
Second. The terms of the act, sections 13 and 17, justify he distinction made between men who pay and who furnish substitutes.
Third. As to the effect of the construction, if drafted men understand that a substitute certainly exempts them for three years, but paying $300 only exempts hem, or may only exempt them, from duty under a particular draft, they will of course furnish a substitute and not money, and they are actually doing so, and thus the object of the law is attained and the wants of the Government are provided for.
Fourth. The objectionable feature in the very unpopular act is the $300 clause, and this because it is thought to be against the poor and in favor of the rich. By the constructions I have given to it he poor have all the advantage which can be gleaned for them from the law, because all the rich men who pay $300 being liable to subsequent draft, the chance of the poor man being drawn is so much diminished.
Fifth. No practical case can arise until some man who has paid $300 shall be drawn in a subsequent draft.
Now, in consideration of the foregoing, what advantage would there be in constructing doubtful point of law so as to defeat the md to make the most hateful features bear harder upon the poor and easier upon the rich, and to make this construction, too, when no real case exists? It would only, so far as I can see now, gratify those who are able to pay the $300 by absolutely pledging to them beforehand more than the law gives, and this, too, when we have all agreed that the law in any sense made a discrimination in favor of that class to which the law, if not too favorable, was at least thought to be so by the poor. I hope you will agree with me in this. I shall act upon your suggestion to caution my officers in regard to their intercourse with the people.
A drafted man is in the service by being drafted; otherwise we have no hold upon him. Such being the case, how can be re-enlist, being in the service? He may be assigned as the Secretary of War may direct, but I dont's see how he can volunteer of enlist. I hope that you are right that we can get plenty of men of $300, but I think you will be mistaken on this point unless the draft is effectually carried out.
The $402 offered some weeks ago has not yet brought men, though I must confess that I think it will do so hereafter. As a general thing, we expect our results too soon.
I find that whatever I publish over my own signature as an order, even after the best legal advice, which I generally get, is assailed, probably because I am not a lawyer, and I therefore intend hereafter to get everything in the form of an "opinion," and thus try and prevent as far as possible the carping of the newspapers at the law and its workings. People don"t or won's appreciate the difficulties in executing this act and providing for all cases which arise under it. I shall be glad at any time to receive your views and suggestions.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. FRY,