Halligan, Thomas. Affidavit, 1864 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of a New York soldier's affidavit allowing a proxy to cast his vote in the 1864 general election.
Thomas Halligan, born in 1823, was a private in Company I of the 104th New York Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. He was from Lansingburgh, Rensselaer County, New York.
On April 21, 1864, the Legislature of the State of New York passed an act permitting men serving in the military to vote in elections via proxy. Prior to the Civil War, soldiers away from home at the time of an election could not vote, but by 1864, thirteen Union states allowed soldiers to vote in the field and four allowed proxy votes. The New York bill enabled men in the military to circumvent restrictions that required that a vote be cast within the voter's home district, allowing each soldier or sailor to designate a person in his home district to cast his ballot for him. The soldier was required to send the proxy voter his ballot along with a written certificate giving the proxy power of attorney, attested by a witness and a commanding officer.
The collection consists of three forms filled in by hand, one of which is printed on the outside of an envelope, giving John Tracy of Lansingburg[h], New York, power of attorney to cast a vote for John Halligan in the November 8, 1864 general election. The forms were completed while Halligan was stationed in Petersburg, Virginia, and were signed by John G. Brown as witness and Seneca Warner Jr., First Lieutenant Commander of Company E, 104th New York Volunteer Infantry. Thomas Halligan signed with an X mark in lieu of a signature, likely indicating that he did not know how to read or write.
The Library purchased this collection in 2019 with support from the Dr. Harlan Horner Estate.