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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

200 Substitutes Wanted!

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D.W. Belisle, 200 SUBSTITUTES WANTED! ALSO FIFTY COLORED SUBSTITUTES THE HIGHEST PRICES PAID, AND FAIRLY DEALT WITH [POSTER] (1864). Courtesy of the Civil War Treasures from The Collection of The New-York Historical Society [nhnycw/ac ac03029].

Creator Political leaders of New York City
Context Political leaders hoped to be able to spare their constituents from being forced to join the military.
Audience Men who might consider serving in the army if they were paid for doing so
Purpose To recruit substitutes

Historical Significance

By 1863 it was clear that the North needed more soldiers than were willing to volunteer, and many volunteers had died or were returning home as their period of enlistment ended. As in the South, a series of drafts addressed this need. However, those deemed fit to serve could hire substitutes, or pay a $300 bounty rather than serving in the military. Although draftees made up only a tiny proportion of soldiers, the fees paid to avoid service added much-needed money to federal coffers, and many substitutes joined the army. The below poster was displayed in New York City, where political leaders raised money to hire substitutes for their constituents.

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