Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War: The Trials of John Merryman (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)

Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War: The Trials of John Merryman (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)


In the spring of 1861, Union military authorities arrested Maryland farmer John Merryman on charges of treason against the United States for burning railroad bridges around Baltimore in an effort to prevent northern soldiers from reaching the capital. From his prison cell at Fort McHenry, Merryman petitioned Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney for release through a writ of habeas corpus. Taney issued the writ, but President Abraham Lincoln ignored it. In mid-July Merryman was released, only to be indicted for treason in a Baltimore federal court. His case, however, never went to trial and federal prosecutors finally dismissed it in 1867.In Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War, Jonathan White reveals how the arrest and prosecution of this little-known Baltimore farmer had a lasting impact on the Lincoln administration and Congress as they struggled to develop policies to deal with both northern traitors and southern rebels. His work sheds significant new light on several perennially controversial legal and constitutional issues in American history, including the nature and extent of presidential war powers, the development of national policies for dealing with disloyalty and treason, and the protection of civil liberties in wartime.

Table of contents

Cover......Page 1
Contents ......Page 10
Acknowledgments ......Page 12
Introduction ......Page 18
1 "BALTIMORE IS TO BE THE BATTLEFIELD OF THE SOUTHERN REVOLUTION": The Baltimore Riot and the Formation of Lincolns Habeas Corpus Policy......Page 27
2 A COLLISION OF CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITY": The Arrest and Incarceration of John Merryman......Page 42
3 "PROSECUTE YOUR BEST CASESNOT THE WEAK AND DOUBTFUL": The Difficulty of Punishing Disloyalty in the Loyal States......Page 61
4 "NECESSITY IS THE TYRANTS PLEA": The Habeas Corpus Act, Part I: Congressional Reaction to Military Arrests and Tribunals......Page 81
5 "THE GOVERNMENT MUST IN SOME WAY SUSTAIN YOU IN YOUR OFFICIAL ACTS": The Habeas Corpus Act, Part II: The Failure of Congress to Protect Those Waging War......Page 107
Illustrations......Page 124
Notes ......Page 148
Bibliography ......Page 190
B......Page 210
C......Page 211
H......Page 212
L......Page 213
M......Page 214
S......Page 215
Y......Page 216


  • Author: Jonathan W. White
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Press
  • ISBN-10: 080714214X, 0807143464
  • ISBN-13: 9780807142141, 9780807143469, 9780807142158, 9780807142165, 9780807142172
  • Pages: 216
  • Format: pdf
  • Size: 1.6M
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