A Riot Averted
Lincoln’s note on the draft, 1864
As the Civil War progressed, newspapers periodically published forged documents, false information, or anti-war sentiments. Even worse, newspapers would publish army tactics, movements, and plans. These newspapers could cause panics and, when they happened to cross into the wrong hands, had dire consequences. Abraham Lincoln would need to bear the responsibility for ultimately shutting down more than 300 newspapers during his presidency, sometimes receiving backlash for censorship.
On May 18, 1864, the New York World newspaper and New York Journal of Commerce published that President Abraham Lincoln intended to conscript 400,000 men. In the dark of night, a forged dispatch arrived, and the two newspapers had no idea that they were publishing false information. Knowing such an announcement would cause the value of gold to soar, Joseph Howard, Jr. distributed the fake conscription and made a large sum… before being arrested, of course.
Ironically, Howard spent 3 months in prison and just before he was released, Lincoln issued a call for 500,000 soldiers.
This document, written by Abraham Lincoln on the back of a telegram, hurries to prove that the conscription published by New York World and New York Journal of Commerce on May 18, 1864 was a hoax.
Learn more about the New York City Draft Riots.
The acquisition of this manuscript was made possible by generous donors to the 2019 Watchorn Lincoln Dinner Sponsorship Fund.