July 22, 1863: Those Yankee despots

Charge of the police at the Tribune office

Richmond Daily Dispatch was an editorial pointing out that Southerners can be shot by the firing squad for resisting the draft sort of weakens their argument.


The New York Riots put down.

The military have been called in, the mob has been massacred without mercy, despotism has asserted its imperial claims, and once more “order reigns in Warsaw.” The conscription proceeds space. Willing, or unwilling, every man who is unable to pay $300 for his discharge is dragged into the ranks and becomes a target for Confederate bullets. The law is sent amidst the clash of arms, and there is nothing for it but submission or death. The Conscription law, which is gathering in so many victims, is the harshest and vilest law of the kind that ever was enacted. If it be necessary, for instance to draw 20,000 men from the city of New York, the 20,000 first drawn from the boxes are conscripts. But if they can raise $300 each, every man is discharged, and twenty thousand fresh names drawn, to be discharged on the same terms.–The process goes on until it comes to a class who have no money, and no friends, and they are sent to the field. The whole weight of the war, by this process is thrown upon the poor, who are usually the least able to stand it. It seems to have been invented especially to oppress the lower class and screen the rich.

We had hoped, from the causes which led to this outbreak of popular discontent, and the parties which were most deeply implicated, that the great object would be defeated, and that the conscription could not be carried out. We were well aware that many insurrections occurred at Paris during the earlier years of the first French revolution, without in the slightest degree interfering with the conscription continually in operation, and that the Republic while torn by faction within never for a moment relaxed its system of aggressive warfare upon all its neighbors. Yet, we conceived that there was no analogy between the two cases. During the ascendancy of Robespierre, the insurrections were raised by the revolutionary clubs, which, in point of fact, constituted the Government, and directed against political enemies, or persons suspected of being such. On no occasion do we read that the conscripts themselves took any part in the proceedings, or that they were raised because these conscripts did not wish to go to the war. Nor did the mob ever raise an insurrection to stop the conscription.–On the contrary, the conscripts were always ready and anxious to go. They not only were animated by the national love of adventure, and thirst for glory, but they well knew that the army was a safer place for them than Paris, and they preferred death by a cannon ball to death by the guillotine. In truth, the guillotine was the most powerful recruiting sergeant that ever existed. It drove thousands of reluctant persons into the ranks, whither they resorted to escape its formidable power. In New York the case was different. The conscription was the direct cause of quarrel. To stop the conscription the persons who were liable to it, or their friends, engaged in the insurrection.

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