Thursday, January 10, 2013

"The Man Who Fought in Lincoln’s Name"

Slate:

Many healthy men who were eligible to serve in the military during the Civil War never ended up enlisting. The Enrollment Act of 1863 provided that a draftee could pay a “substitute” enrollee the sum of $300 (about $5,000 in today’s terms) in order to enlist in his place. Such famous Americans as Grover Cleveland and John D. Rockefeller took advantage of this provision, in effect buying their way out of service.

Abraham Lincoln was too old for the draft, and, being president, would have been exempt regardless of age. But the Army was short of men, and the commander in chief wanted to encourage other “ineligibles” like himself to voluntarily hire a substitute. To that end, in 1864 he paid a “representative recruit” to fight for him.