Lincoln Again…

On 24 September 1862 Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus. That’s an ancient writ that harkens back to Magna Carta and requires the government either to charge you or turn you loose. It means they can’t imprison you indefinitely just because you are their political critic. Therefore Abraham Lincoln had to suspend the writ, and by the war’s end had imprisoned more than 50,000 Northerners. Whoops! That story doesn’t get into the history books too often, now does it?

Franklin Sanders, The Moneychanger

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2 thoughts on “Lincoln Again…

  1. No. I recommend reading Mark Neely’s excellent “The Fate of Liberty.” Only 14,000 people were imprisoned. But more importantly, you must remember that the Constitution allows for the suspension of the “Great Writ” in cases of rebellion or insurrection. The South’s secession from the Union was most certainly a rebellion AND an insurrection. And so Lincoln had justification for the suspension. But it’s definitely a dicey thing.

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    • Article 1, section 9 of the constitution does state “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”
      On Sept. 24, 1862, President Lincoln issued the following proclamation suspending the right to writs of habeas corpus nationwide.

      BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
      A PROCLAMATION
      Whereas, it has become necessary to call into service not only volunteers but also portions of the militia of the States by draft in order to suppress the insurrection existing in the United States, and disloyal persons are not adequately restrained by the ordinary processes of law from hindering this measure and from giving aid and comfort in various ways to the insurrection;
      Now, therefore, be it ordered, first, that during the existing insurrection and as a necessary measure for suppressing the same, all Rebels and Insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice, affording aid and comfort to Rebels against the authority of United States, shall be subject to martial law and liable to trial and punishment by Courts Martial or Military Commission:
      Second. That the Writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended in respect to all persons arrested, or who are now, or hereafter during the rebellion shall be, imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prison, or other place of confinement by any military authority of by the sentence of any Court Martial or Military Commission.
      In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
      Done at the City of Washington this twenty fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the 87th.
      ABRAHAM LINCOLN
      By the President:
      WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

      The proclamation reads to me like people who did not want to be drafted to fight for the Union in the Civil War / War Between the States / War of the Rebellion / War of Separation / War for Southern Independence / War for the Union / Second American Revolution / War of Northern Aggression had the writ suspended for them.

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