Civil War Draft Substitute Voucher, 1864
Partially printed document stating that Richard L. Chambers of Newark, New Jersey furnished an acceptable substitute who has been duly enlisted. Dated June 9, 1864. 8.5 x 5 in.
The number of soldiers enlisting to fight in the Civil War dangerously waned as early as 1862. Unable to meet their draft quotas, desperate states searched for a solution. Congress passed the Enrollment Act in 1863 that conscripted all male citizens and immigrants who applied for citizenship between ages 25 and 45. Reluctant men paid $300 for willing substitutes. By the summer, over 26,000 participants had been purchased. Many families unable to pay the fee grew tired of sending their boys to slaughter. Governor of New York Horatio Seymour rattled against the Act at a public meeting. He shouted, "the bloody and treasonable and revolutionary document of public necessity can be proclaimed by a mob as well as a government." On July 13, 1863, nine days after his speech, a horde of infuriated New Yorkers exacted vengeance against the draft. They burned and beat their way through the city for 4 days. It was the bloodiest outbreak of civil disorder in American history.