Abraham Lincoln photo

Message to Governor Smith of Vermont

February 08, 1865

His Excellency Governor Smith, of Vermont:

Complaint is made to me, by Vermont, that the assignment of her quota for the draft on the pending call is intrinsically unjust, and also in bad faith of the Government's promise to fairly allow credits for men previously furnished. To illustrate, a supposed case is stated as follows:

Vermont and New Hampshire must between them furnish six thousand men on the pending call; and being equal, each must furnish as many as the other in the long run. But the Government finds that on former calls Vermont furnished a surplus of five hundred, and New Hampshire a surplus, of fifteen hundred. These two surpluses making two thousand and added to the six thousand, making eight thousand to be furnished by the two States, or four thousand each less, by fair credits. Then subtract Vermont's surplus of five hundred from her four thousand, leaves three thousand five hundred as her quota on the pending call; and likewise subtract New Hampshire's surplus of fifteen hundred from her four thousand, leaves two thousand five hundred as her quota on the pending call. These three thousand five hundred and two thousand five hundred make precisely six thousand, which the supposed case requires from the two States, and it is just equal for Vermont to furnish one thousand more now than New Hampshire, because New Hampshire has heretofore furnished one thousand more than Vermont, which equalizes the burdens of the two in the long run. And this result, so far from being bad faith to Vermont, is indispensable to keeping good faith with New Hampshire. By no other result can the six thousand men be obtained from the two States, and, at the same time deal justly and keep faith with both, and we do but confuse ourselves in questioning the process by which the right result is reached. The supposed case is perfect as an illustration.

The pending call is not for three hundred thousand men subject to fair credits, but is for three hundred thousand remaining after all fair credits have been deducted, and it is impossible to concede what Vermont asks without coming out short of three hundred thousand men, or making other localities pay for the partiality shown her.

This upon the case stated. If there be different reasons for making an allowance to Vermont, let them be presented and considered.

Yours truly,


Abraham Lincoln, Message to Governor Smith of Vermont Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/268234

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives