Lincoln’s Substitute

Slate’s Vault feature always finds some great stuff.  Here’s the story (new to me) about Lincoln hiring and “interviewing” a substitute.

Abraham Lincoln was too old for the draft, and, being president, would have been exempt regardless of age. But the Army was short of men, and the commander in chief wanted to encourage other “ineligibles” like himself to voluntarily hire a substitute. To that end, in 1864 he paid a “representative recruit” to fight for him. This document, held in the National Archives, records the enlistment of 19-year-old Pennsylvanian J. Summerfield Staples at Lincolns request.

Staples, who had served as another mans substitute earlier in the war, was a laborer who happened into his new gig when walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. The president had deputized Washingtonian Noble D. Larner, who was a member of the draft committee of his ward, to find a suitable recruit. Larner bumped into Staples on the street.

via Abraham Lincoln: the president paid a substitute to enlist in the Union Army..

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