Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- January 06, 1864The Conscription Act Petition to Congress by the Chicago Arbeiterverein
We are publishing the petition which the Chicago Arbeiterverein sent to Congress, and we urge all private citizens, as well as societies in other cities, to submit similar petitions to our national legislature. Since the drawing of numbers has been postponed until February 15, there is ample time to agitate for the devising of a just system of military administration. The petition of the Chicago Arbeiterverein reads as follows: "To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America:
"Your petitioners, citizens of the City of Chicago, County of Cook, State of Illinois, most respectfully point out that, in their opinion, the congressional law commonly called the 'Conscription Act,' should not only be amended in regard to certain provisions, but should also be fundamentally 2changed: it should be based upon such principles as will render it sufficiently effective to procure the best soldiers without being unduly oppressive to the people.
"We, therefore, recommend that you, as the representatives of the people, embody the following fundamental principles in the Conscription Act:
"1) From this day until the Rebellion has been completely suppressed, the following are subject to military duty:
"a) Every American citizen;
"b) Every resident of the United States who has declared his intention of becoming an American citizen.
"c) Every resident of the United States, who, though he has not declared his intention of becoming a citizen, has through continued tenure of real 3estate, or through the operation of a business or industry under the protection of the law, has indicated, or will so indicate, that he has selected this country as his permanent home. This provision shall apply to all residents (as described above) who are between the ages of twenty and forty-five.
"2) The persons described in sub-paragraph c may evade military service by leaving the country for which they have no sympathy when the country is in great danger.
"3) Men who are able to perform military service are to be divided into two classes. The first class shall consist of all men who were single at at the time the law was enacted and of all childless widowers between the ages of twenty and forty-five. The second class shall consist of all others who are subject to military duty; these are not to be called to 4service until all men of the first class have been enrolled.
"4) The first class shall be enrolled for active service by the competent authorities.
"5) No substitution or redemption or any other form of exemption shall be permitted.
"6) Only those shall be exempt from active service who are physically or mentally unfit, or who must support orphaned or minor sisters or brothers, or aged or feeble parents.
"7) Convicted criminals shall be considered unworthy to serve in the armed forces of the United States.5
"We believe that the principles of justice, equality, and propriety recommend such a law; a law like that outlined above would place our strong young men at the disposal of the Government, and commerce and industry would not be seriously hampered by their absence; it would provide through taxation the material necessary to carry on the war, and would do away with conscription by lottery, thus placing rich and poor on the same level, simplifying conscription, and giving the greatest possible satisfaction. [Translator's note: The recommendations of the Arbeiterverein contain no apparent reference to taxation.]
"If the members of your honorable body will take the trouble of perusing the pages of history, they will find that a law similar to the one which we recommend was passed by the National Convention of France at a time when internal rioting and foreign despotism threatened to extinguish the light of liberty in that country, and that this conscription law saved France.6
"A. C. Hesing, Theodor Hilscher,
Colonel Knobelsdorf, L. Brentano;
Wilhelm Haase, president;
J. Greenbaum, secretary."
III B 1, I G, III B 2, IV
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