previous next

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.—

On December 3, 1861, the commanding officer at Fort Lafayette came to the prisoners' quarters and read a document, of which the following is a copy:

To the political prisoners in Fort Lafayette:
I am instructed by the Secretary of State to inform you that the Department of State of the United States will not recognize any one as an attorney for political prisoners, and will look with distrust upon all applications for release through such channels; and that such applications will be regarded as additional reasons for declining to release the prisoners.

And, further, that if such prisoners wish to make any communication to the Government, they are at liberty to make it directly to the State Department.

Space will not permit me further to notice the instances of this immense class of cases. In almost every Northern state the victims of this violence were to be found. That there was no just cause for these invasions of the rights of the states, and of the citizens, was demonstrated in the most decisive manner. At this time (November 4, 1862) the friends of the administration of the United States government were decisively defeated at the elections. On November 22d ensuing, the War Department issued an order releasing all except prisoners of war. The order was muffled up in a phraseology suited to hide from the observation of the people that the result of the elections had stricken home to the sensibilities of the usurpers. It said:

Ordered—1. That all persons now in military custody, who have been arrested for discouraging volunteer enlistments, opposing the draft,1 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.

Thus these arrests were for a short period suspended, and then vigorously renewed.

Many of these persons who had been illegally seized and imprisoned now commenced suits for damages. This led to another step on the part of the government of the United States, by which the judiciary of the state was entirely subverted and deprived of all jurisdiction in these cases. Congress passed an act on March 3, 1863, which provided that any order of the President of the United States, or arrest made under his authority, when pleaded, should be a defense, in all courts, to any action or prosecution for any search, seizure, arrest, or imprisonment

1 The first act of Congress providing for an enrollment and draft was passed on March 3, 1863, three and a half months later than this order.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (3)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Seth C. Hawley (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 3rd, 1863 AD (2)
November 4th, 1862 AD (1)
December 3rd, 1861 AD (1)
November 22nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: