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[Detail] The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865

Historical Comprehension: Personal Bias

Examine Taft's February 11, 1863, reflection on the formation of the Knights of the Golden Circle and "peace men" that he reported had organized to overthrow the government and his support of the Union League, a secret society to counteract anti-government activity. The following week, when the Senate passed a bill drafting men aged 20 to 45, he contemplated enlistment even though he was beyond the age of conscription. However, he remarked that he had already volunteered to serve by joining the Union League.

  • What fears are revealed in the diary entry of February 11, 1863?
  • Were such threats to government real or imagined? What evidence supports your conclusion?
  • What does the passage of a conscription bill raising the age for draftees reveal about the progress of the war?