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Interpreting the Evidence

Telegram from Abraham Lincoln to Governor Edwin D. Morgan, July 3, 1862

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 - 1877)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Civil War

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Telegram from Abraham Lincoln to Governor Edwin D. Morgan, July 3, 1862 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Telegram from Abraham Lincoln to Governor Edwin D. Morgan, July 3, 1862 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Telegram from Abraham Lincoln to Governor Edwin D. Morgan. Lincoln, having requested 300,000 troops from New York, pressed Morgan to send as many troops as he could, as quickly as possible. Noting that time was of the essence, he promised Morgan that the more quickly he was sent the troops, the more likelihood there would be of the Union winning the Civil War quickly, ensuring the survival of more of the soldiers, July 3, 1862.
Historical Context
New York State's contribution to the Union cause in the Civil War was extraordinary, despite deep divisions among the state's populace. The state enlisted 448,000 troops, suffered 46,534 casualties, and raised 150 million dollars for the Union war effort. All exceeded the contributions of any other state.

More than 200 New York infantry, cavalry, and artillery units served in the war and collectively saw action in nearly every campaign. A host of New Yorkers distinguished themselves through military and public service during the war. While the state's leader ship pulled together to raise enormous levels of volunteers and funds for the cause, longstanding divisions rendered this process very difficult at times.

In New York as in the rest of the Union, support for the policies of President Lincoln and even the war itself rose and fell with the fortunes of the Union army. New Yorkers disagreed over what they felt was the true purpose of the war. Support for the Emancipation Proclamation was far from unanimous and the conscription act passed by Congress in March of 1863 caused deep resentment in the state. Desertions were not at all uncommon.

Class, ethnic, and racial tensions, as well as opposition to the draft came to a head with the New York City draft riots of July 1863. The riots resulted in the deaths of 119 and the wounding of over 300 persons. Property damage was estimated at roughly one million dollars. Still in the end, the state raised twenty-three ethnic regiments, dominated by individuals of German and Irish descent, as well as three regiments of African American troops.

Despite the outcome of the Civil War, social conflicts and inequities that existed within New York prior to the war endured well into the future. Still, New York's economy grew, industrialization of the state proceeded, wages increased, and the city of New York assumed its place as the financial center of the nation.

Essential Question
How do governments raise an army?
How does war impact local communities?
How does war impact the relationship between federal and state powers?
Check for Understanding
Identify the main idea of this telegram and explain how Lincoln intended to raise an army.
Historical Challenges
Choose another state in the Union and research the contributions that state made to the Civil War.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science and Technology: Research the telegraph and explain how this technology revolutionized communication in the 19th century.