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A New York Soldier’s Affidavit Allowing
a Proxy to Vote in the 1864 Election
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[CIVIL WAR]. Partially Printed Document Signed by Thomas Halligan with his X mark, countersigned by John G. Brown, and Seneca Warner Jr. Petersburg, Virginia, October 21, 1864. 1 p., 8 x 12½ in. With printed envelope restating affidavit’s claim on the outside, and additional affidavit of “Unregistered Soldier’s Voucher.”

Inventory #21264.06       Price: $375

Excerpt:

I Thomas Halligan a member of Company I of the 104th Regiment New York Volunteers…do hereby authorize and empower John Tracy of the town of Lansingburg in the county of Rensalaer to cast for me and in my name and stead…my vote or ballot, the same as if I was personally present at the General election to be held on the 8th day of Novemb 1864.

Historical Background

On April 21, 1864, the New York State Legislature passed “An Act to enable the qualified electors of this State, absent therefrom in the Military Services of the United States, in the Army and Navy thereof to vote.” Each soldier and sailor needed to select someone at home who could cast his ballot for him.

In this Soldier’s Power of Attorney, Thomas Halligan, a soldier in the 104th New York Volunteer Infantry authorized John Tracy to vote on his behalf in Lansingburgh, New York, in the 1864 election. In mid-October 1864, when Halligan signed this document, the 104th New York was in the trenches before Petersburg, Virginia. The regiment remained before Petersburg until April 2, 1865, when the Confederates abandoned the city. The 104th New York pursued the Army of Northern Virginia and was present when it surrendered at Appomattox Court House a week later. It participated in the Grand Review of Armies in Washington in late May before being mustered out of service in July 1865. In addition to granting Tracy his right to vote, Halligan must have been unregistered, as he had to also swear that he was a resident of Lansingburgh, in Rensselaer County, New York.

Republican President Abraham Lincoln was running for reelection against his former general, Democrat George B. McClellan, who was widely considered the favorite among his former troops. Instead, Union soldiers such as Halligan voted for their commander in chief in great numbers, reelecting Lincoln using proxy voters like Tracy. Although no statistics exist for soldiers who went home to vote or voted by proxy as Halligan did, those 40,000 soldiers who voted in the field gave 75 percent of their votes to Lincoln. He won reelection by more than 400,000 popular votes and by an overwhelming 212 to 21 vote in the electoral college.

Thomas Halligan (1823- ) enlisted at Troy, New York, as a private in Company I of the 104th New York Volunteer Infantry in January 1862 and was mustered in the following month. He was discharged in February 1865.

John Tracy (1806- ) was born in Ireland. In 1865, he was a farmer in Lansingburgh, New York, where he lived with his wife and five of their nine children.

John G. Brown (1836- ) enlisted at Geneseo, New York, and was mustered in as a private in Company B of the 104th New York Volunteer Infantry in November 1861. He re-enlisted as a veteran in February 1864, and was appointed a wagoner. He mustered out with his company in July 1865 near Washington, D.C.


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