The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties

By Mark E. Neely Jr. | Go to book overview

4

Arrests Move South

As the number of military arrests of civilians in the North fell from the forbidding heights of August 1862, the most important new developments occurred not in Washington cabinet meetings but in the field. The president and his advisors appeared to view suspension of the writ of habeas corpus as a means of enforcing the odious draft in the North, but the military prisons filled with civilians from the South arrested for other kinds of offenses.


The "Southernization" of Civilian Arrests

Though nothing matched the frenzy of August 1862, the overall rate of military arrests of civilians rose in 1863 to a level above that of the first year of the war. The increase can be judged by comparing the period when William H. Seward oversaw internal security ( 15 April 1861-15 February 1862), with the same dates in 1863-1864, when Edwin M. Stanton controlled the program. Whereas 864 civilians had been arrested throughout the country in the first period, 1, 111 citizens were held in the later period in Washington's military prisons alone, not to mention the other forts (numerous by 1864) where civilian prisoners were kept. The D.C. prisoners were meticulously reported in Levi C. Turner's manuscript Record of Prisoners of State, a handwritten ledger that included essentially only those persons arrested in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia.

Although military arrests of civilians remained a border-state problem, the number of Marylanders arrested had fallen from the early days. In 1861, 166 of the 509 cases of known residence involved Marylanders, that is, 32.6 percent. In 1863-1864, the number of arrests in Maryland constituted but 136 of 1,001 cases where place of arrest is known, or only 13.6 percent. The absolute number of Marylanders arrested had fallen only a little, but the tempo of arrests had increased significantly elsewhere.

They had burgeoned across the Potomac, where Union forces at last con

-75-

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The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Actions Without Precedent 3
  • 2 - Missouri and Martial Law 32
  • 3 - Low Tide for Liberty 51
  • 4 - Arrests Move South 75
  • 5 - The Dark Side of the Civil War 93
  • 6 - Numbers and Definitions 113
  • 7 - The Revival of International Law 139
  • 8 - The Irrelevance of the Milligan Decision 160
  • 9 - The Democratic Opposition 185
  • 10 - Lincoln and the Constitution 210
  • Epilogue 223
  • Notes 237
  • Index of Prisoners of State 269
  • Index 273
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