Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- February 27, 1863An Unjust and Unrepublican Feature of the Conscription Law (Editorial)
When we received the information that the National House of Representatives had passed the Conscription Act, it was too late to make a close study of, and comment on the contents of this law which has now been adopted by both branches of Congress.
Unexpectedly, the House, which made some changes in the Bill that was passed by the Senate, inserted a provision according to which anyone who is chosen for military service in the manner prescribed by the Act, may furnish an acceptable substitute, or the Secretary of War may supply a suitable substitute for a consideration not exceeding three hundred dollars.
This section of the Act is absolutely unjust to the poor and to those unfortunate workers who do not earn enough money to save three hundred dollars; it favors 2the "gold barons" who can easily raise the necessary money and thus redeem their "golden youths," while the sons of the poor will be forced to do military service.
Even one who is in favor of substitution with reference to military service will have to admit that setting a minimum of three hundred dollars is a flagrant violation of the rights and privileges of the substitute himself.
The entire provision, however, is so much more revolting, since it makes a wide distinction between the wealthy and the poor at a time when our country is threatened by great dangers from within and without; it deprives us of a people's army in which all social classes are equally represented, such as is the case in Switzerland.
In these times that "try men's souls" the working class has given so many proofs of its sacrificing patriotism that no one can accuse it of dishonest motives if it raises its voice against this unjust measure. It is ready at 3all times to shed its blood for the Union, for liberty, for justice, for the emancipation of slaves, and for free labor; but, at the same time, it demands that the sons of the rich shall not have the privilege of purchasing exemption from the performance of their sacred duty for the price of a few paltry pieces of silver.
Considering the matter from this viewpoint, we can only advise the workers of our country to protest against said provision of the Conscription Act, and to demand that the objectionable section be stricken from the law.
It has been reported that the Chicago Arbeiterverein contemplates holding a demonstration this week against the aforementioned part of the Conscription Act; a demonstration--note, you Secessionists!--not against the Conscription Act, but in favor of the Conscription Act; however, in favor of an Act from which the faulty paragraph has been deleted.
The protest of the Chicago Arbeiterverein should be sent to our representatives in Congress before March 4, since Congress will adjourn on that day.
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