James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

Page 288

  the popular dissatisfaction with the draft was known and there were rumors of trouble and a large crowd had assembled at the provost-marshal’s office, the drawing took place on this Saturday without any disturbance whatever; a spirit of positive good humor prevailed. But on the Sunday, publication in the newspapers of the names of the conscripts, who were seen to be nearly all mechanics and laborers, revealed the practical effect of the draft at the same time that it emphasized the provisions of the Act for compulsory military service during three years. Those who had already been drawn or were liable to be drawn on the following days became excited, then angry. Crowds gathered to discuss the provisions of the law and the opinion of prominent Democrats that it was unconstitutional. The provision which allowed a man to buy himself off for three hundred dollars was the main grievance. This had been introduced into the act at a time when the sum specified seemed sufficient as a bounty wherewith to procure a substitute. But now owing to the continued decline in the purchasing power of the paper currency, the demand for labor, the rise in wages, and the increased cost of living, a soldier could not be had for that amount. Hence the provision was denounced as an unworthy device to enable the rich to escape cheaply whilst the poor must take up their burden. At the end of this day of busy rumor and seething agitation the populace was convinced that the draft was unjust and ought to be resisted.  2   Monday dawned. 1 Aware of the commotion in the city, the authorities had taken some measures for protection. Shortly after seven the provost-marshal opened the head-quarters of the Ninth District, on the corner of Third avenue and Forty-sixth street, and made ready to continue
Note 1. July 13. [back]