Williams, Seth. Letter, 1864 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of a letter from Assistant Adjutant General Seth Williams to Colonel R. N. Batchelder about storing election forms for Civil War soldiers from New York at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac.
Seth Williams (1822-1866) was an American military officer who served as an assistant adjutant general in the Union Army. He served in this capacity in the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War, which granted him the authority to speak and send official correspondence on behalf of commanding generals.
Prior to the Civil War, New York soldiers away from home at the time of an election could not vote, but on April 21st, 1864, the Legislature of the State of New York passed an act permitting men serving in the military to vote in elections via proxy. To vote by proxy a soldier was required to designate a person in his home district to cast his ballot for him. The soldier would send the proxy voter his ballot along with a written certificate giving the proxy power of attorney.
The collection contains a letter from Seth Williams sent to R. N. [Richard Napoleon] Batchelder at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac in City Point, Virginia on behalf of General Ulysses S. Grant. The letter requests that arrangements be made to store election forms for soldiers from New York to use to cast their vote, in preparation for the election of 1864.
The Library purchased this letter in 2019 with support from the Dr. Harlan Horner Estate.