This Week in the Civil War - 518

Mar 4, 2013

On Tuesday, March 3, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed a national draft law, imposing liability on all male Northerners between the ages of twenty and forty-five years, with the exception of those who were mentally or physically unfit, those convicted of a felony, men with certain types of dependents, and various Federal and state officials. 

Quotas would be set on the basis of a district’s population and the number of men from each district already in uniform.  The law also provided that a drafted man could hire another as a substitute or purchase an exemption for $300.  This last provision of the national draft law proved to be very controversial, with average income citizens believing that wealthy Northerners could buy their way out of serving while the poor could not.