Friday, July 15, 2016

Governor Horatio Seymour to Major-General John A. Dix, August 15, 1863

Executive Department, Albany, August 15,1863.

To Major-general John A. Dix, U.S.A.,
Commanding Department of the East:

Sir, — I have received the final answer of the President to my suggestions with regard to the draft in this State. I regret that he did not see fit to comply with my requests, as I am confident that a generous reliance upon the patriotism of the people to fill the thinned ranks of our armies by voluntary enlistments would hereafter, as it has heretofore, prove more effectual than any conscription. As I have fully expressed my views on this subject in my correspondence with the President, of which I send you a copy, it is not necessary to refer again to those topics.

I had hoped the same opportunity would be afforded New York that has been given to other States, of showing to the world that no compulsory process was needful to send from this State its full quota of men to re-enforce our armies. As you state in your letter that it is your duty to enforce the act of Congress, and as you apprehend its provisions may excite popular resistance, it is proposed you should know the position which will be held by the State authorities. Of course, under no circumstances can they perform duties expressly confided to others, nor can they undertake to relieve others from their proper responsibilities. But there can be no violations of good order, no riotous proceedings, no disturbances of the public peace, which are not infractions of the laws of the State, and those laws will be enforced under all circumstances. I shall take care that all the executive officers of this State perform their duties vigorously and thoroughly, and if need be the military power will be called into requisition.

As you are an officer of the general Government, and not of the State, it does not become me to make suggestions to you with regard to your action under a law of Congress. You will, of course, be governed by your instructions and your own views of duty; and it would be unbecoming in me to obtrude my opinions upon one who is charged with high responsibilities, and who is in no degree subject to my direction, or responsible to me for anything which he may do in accordance with his own judgment and in pursuance of his convictions of propriety.

Yours truly, etc.,
Horatio Seymour.

SOURCE: Morgan Dix, Memoirs of John Adams Dix, Volume 2, p. 82

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