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 Arms in the hands of the soldiery were the forces which executed the decrees that were flashed upon the eyes of a helpless people from the swords of their masters. They had the power to arrest without warrant or complaint; to imprison without a hearing; to deny the writ of habeas corpus; to release without trial such as were accused of crime; and to seize and confiscate estates without asking the aid of a court of justice. Such governments were called military governments; but what shall we call that condition of public affairs in which such a government is sustained within and over a State-nay, three or more States--of the American Union, grouped under the sword of one satrap, like slaves bound to a single chain. If it was not a state of war, what was it? In Russia or Persia this might aptly be called a state of siege, but our Constitution has not provided for a state of siege against the sovereign parties to the Union. It has gone no further than to permit the law-making power of the land to enable the Executive, on certain conditions, to deny to individuals the writ of habeas corpus. Provinces may be outlawed in despotic governments, but States in the American Union cannot be coerced except by actual war. In our Constitution the civil power is placed above the military. When this organic law is reversed, so that the military power becomes the law-making and the ruling power, then war exists. The Constitution provides the means by which the military power may be called in to aid in upholding the civil power, but none through which it may supplant the latter, except in actual war. The only difficulty in defining the period of the reconstruction of the Southern States as a time of actual war is that the United States Government, or, more properly, Congress was the only belligerent party. The other parties were helpless citizens and soldiers who were disarmed and held under paroles. They could not resist; they could only suffer wrong. They were like prison-ships anchored within range of the guns of a beleaguered fortress to receive the fire of their friends if they should attempt to resist the invader. The friends of the Constitution did not dare to array themselves against this military usurpation, lest they should destroy the States that were doomed to suffer its aggressions and wrongs. The whole country felt that it was at war. It is not true that this was a period in which peace was prevented only by the angry passions and lingering resentment of the people. Peace had come; the dove had found a footing in the land and it was a welcome visitor. But new hostilities were begun, and for new causes the chief of which was that the helpless condition of the South invited
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