« PreviousContinue »
disunion, while, from motives of disloyalty or cupidity, or from excited passions or perverted sympathies, individuals were found furnishing men, money, and materials of war and supplies to the insurgents' military and naval forces. Armies, ships, fortifications, navy yards, arsenals, military posts and garrisons, one after another, were betrayed or abandoned to the insurgents.
Congress had not anticipated and so had not provided for the emergency. The municipal authorities were powerless and inactive. The judicial machinery seemed as if it had boon designed not to sustain the Government, but to embarrass and betray it.
Foreign intervention, openly invited and industriously instigated by the abetters of the insurrection, became imminent, and has only beeu prevented by the practice of strict and impartial justice with the most perfect moderation in our intercourse with nations.
The public mind was alarmed and apprehensive, though fortunately not distracted or disheartened. It seemed to be doubtful whether the Federal Government, which one year before had been thought a model worthy of universal acceptance, had indeed the ability to defend and maintain itself.
Some reverses, which perhaps were unavoidable, suffered by newly levied and inefficient forces, discouraged the loyal, and gave new hopes to the insurgents. Voluntary enlistments seemed about to cease, and desertions commenced. Parties speculated upon the question whether conscription had not become necessary to fill up the armies of the United States.
In this emergency the President felt it his duty to employ with energy the extraordinary powers which the Constitution confides to him in cases of insurrection. He called into the field such military and naval forces, unauthorized by the existing laws, as seemed necessary. He directed measures to prevent the use of the post-office for treasonable correspondence. He subjected passengers to and from foreign countries to new passport regulations, and he instituted a blockade, suspended the writ of habeas corpus in various places, and caused persons who were represented to him as being or about to engage in disloyal and treasonable practices to be arrested by special civil as well as military agencies, and detained in military custody, when necessary, to prevent them and deter others from such practices. Examinations of such cases were instituted, and some of the persons so arrested have been discharged from time to time, under circumstances or upon conditions compatible, as was thought, with the public safety.
Meantime a favorable change of public opinion has occurred. The line between loyalty and disloyalty is plainly defined; the whole structure of the Government is firm and stable; apprehensions of public danger and facilities for treasonable practices have dininished with the passions which prompted heedless persons to adopt them. The insurrection is believed to have culminated and to be declining.
The President, in view of these facts, and anxious to favor a return to the normal course of the Administration, as far as regard for the public welfare will allow, directs that all political prisoners or State prisoners now held in military custody, be released on their subscribing to a parole engaging them to render no aid or comfort to the enemies in hostility to the United States.
The Secretary of War will, however, at his discretion, except from the effect of this order any persons detained as spies in the service of the insurgents, or others whose release at the present moment may be deemed incompatible with the public safety.
To all persons who shall be so released, and who shall keep their parole, the President grants an amnesty for any past offences of treason or disloyalty which they may have committed.
Extraordinary arrests will hereafter be made under the direction of the military authorities alone. By order of the President:
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
On the 27th of the same month, a Commission was appointed by the War Department, consisting of Major-General Dix and Hon. Edwards Pierrepont, of New York, to examine into the cases of the State prisoners then remaining in custody, and to determine whether, in view of the public safety and the existing rebellion, they should be discharged, or remain in arrest, or be remitted to the civil tribunals for trial. These gentlemen entered at once upon the discharge of their duties, and a large number of prisoners were released from custody on taking the oath of allegiance. Wherever the public safety seemed to require it, however, arrests continued to be madethe President, in every instance, assuming all the responsibility of these acts, and throwing himself upon the Courts and the judgment of the country for his vindication. But the President himself had not up to this time directed any general suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, or given any public notice of the rules by which the Government would be guided in its action upon cases that might arise. It was left to the Secretary of War to decide in what instances and for what causes arrests should be made, and the privilege of the writ should be suspended. In some of the Courts into which these cases were brought, the ground was accordingly taken that, although the President might have authority under the Constitution, when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety should require it, to suspend the writ, he could not delegate that authority to any subordinate. To meet this case, therefore, the President, on the 24th of September, 1862, issued the following
Whereas, it has been necessary to call into service, not only volun. teers, 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 restrainod 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 military drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice affording aid and comfort to the rebels against the authority of the 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, or by the sentence of any court-martial or military commissiou.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, 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 [L s.] eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
This proclamation was accompanied by orders from the War Department appointing a Provost Marshal-General, whose bead-quarters were to be at Washington, with special provostmarshals, one or more, in each State, charged with the duty of arresting deserters and disloyal persons, and of inquiring into treasonable practices throughout the country. They were authorized to call upon either the civil or military authority for aid in the discharge of their duties, and were required to report to the Department at Washington. The creation of this new Department had been made necessary by the increased activity of the enemies of the Government throughout the North, and by the degree of success which had attended their efforts. Prompted partly by merely political and partisan motives, but in many instances by thorough sympathy with the secession movement, active political leaders had set in vigorous motion very extensive machinery for the advancement of their designs. “ Peace meetings” were held in every section of the Northern States, at which the action of the Government was most vehemently assailed, the objects of the war were misrepresented, and its prosecution denounced, and special efforts made to prevent enlistments, to promote desertions, and in every way to cripple the Government in its efforts to subdue the rebellion by force of arms. The vigorous action of the Government, however, in arresting men conspicuous in these disloyal practices, had created a salutary re.
action in the public mind, and had so far relieved the Administration from apprehension as to warrant the promulgation of the following order:
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 1862. Ordered—1. That ali persons now in military custody, who have been arrested for discouraging volunteer enlistments, opposing the draft, or for otherwise giving aid and comfort to the enemy, in States where the draft has been made, or the quota of volunteers and militia has been furnished, shall be discharged from further military restraint.
2. The persons who, by the authority of the military commander or governor in rebel States, have been arrested and sent from such State for disloyalty or hostility to the Government of the United States, and are now in military custody, may also be discharged upon giving their parole to do no act of hostility against the Government of the United States, nor render aid to its enemies. But all such persons shall remain subject to military surveillance and liable to arrest on breach of their parole. And if any such persons shall prefer to leave the loyal States on condition of their not returning again during the war, or until special leave for that purpose be obtained from the President, then such person shall, at his option, be released and depart from the United States, or be conveyed beyond the military lines of the United States forces.
3. This order shall not operate to discharge any person who has been in arms against the Government, or by force and arms has resisted or attempted to resist the draft, nor relieve any person from liability to trial and punishment by civil tribunals, or by court-martial or military commission, who may be amenable to such tribunals for offences committed. By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistani Adjutant-Gencral. During the succeeding winter, while Congress was in session, public sentiment was comparatively at rest on this subject. Congress had enacted a law, sanctioning the action of the President in suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and clothing him with full authority to check and punish all attempts to defeat the efforts of the Government in the prosecution of the war. After the adjournment, however, when the political activity of the country was transferred from the