Wednesday, April 27, 2011

150 Years Ago -- Lincoln Suspends Habeas Corpus

On Saturday, April 27, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln wrote to General Benjamin Butler, commanding the Federal troops at Annapolis, Maryland, authorizing him to suspend the writ of habeas corpus if "you find resistance which renders it necessary."

Military rule descended on Maryland.  Any display of affection toward the South was stamped out.  Newspapers were shut down, and hundred of suspected Southern sympathizers were arrested -- some with good reason, many on mere suspicion.  Butler would soon "invade" Baltimore and declare martial law there.
To the Commanding General of the Army of the United States

You are engaged in repressing an insurrection against the laws of the United States. If at any point on or in the vicinity of the military line, which is now (or which will be) used between the city of Philadelphia and the city of Washington, via Perryville, Annapolis City and Annapolis Junction, you find resistance which renders it necessary to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for the public safety, you, personally or through the officer in command at the point where the resistance occurs, are authorized to suspend that writ.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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