Social History for Every Classroom


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"Wanted, a Substitute"

This Civil War-era song sheet refers to a provision in the draft laws passed by Congress in March of 1863 which allowed men to either pay $300 or provide a substitute to avoid serving in the Union Army. The provision was a source of resentment for many poor and working-class northerners, some of whom felt the war had become "the rich man's war and the poor man's fight." Thus the ironic tone of the song's lyrics, heightened by the humorous illustration of the two figures on the song sheet's cover: one man, disheveled in appearance and clearly disgruntled, grumbles "I'm drafted," while his more aristocratic-looking counterpart proclaims "I ain't."

Source | Frank Wilder, "Wanted, A Substitute," sheetmusic, (Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co., 1863), available from Johns Hopkins University, Levy Sheet Music Collection,
Creator | Unknown
Composer | Frank Wilder
Lyricist | Frank Wilder
Item Type | Music/Song
Cite This document | Unknown, “"Wanted, a Substitute",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 24, 2023,

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