tv [untitled] May 27, 2012 1:00pm-1:30pm EDT
we'll look at the experiences of ed kennedy. along with two actors who appeared in the hbo mini series. american history tv in prime time. all week here on c-span 3. each week american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. you can watch the classes here every saturday at 8 p.m. and midnight eastern and sundays at 1 p.m. this week american studies professor jonathan white looks at civil liberties and treason during the civil war. this took place at christopher newport university at newport news, virginia. now, today since we're talking about civil liberties, usually when i am up here i have
a lemonade from chick f il-a, and a couple months ago i went to the state capital and picked up this mug and it is fitting together. whenever you put hot liquid in it, the first, third, fourth, fifth amendments disappear and when it is cold the bill the rights comes back. fortunately i am just drinking gold water today. today we'll be talking about civil war and many of you are national securities studies minors and in a lot of your classes you study how to defend the nation. in this class what we're going to look at is a tension that exists in this country and in others between national security and individual liberties. we're going to use lincoln as a lens to do this today and in a week or two we'll look at jefferson davis and you will find that jefferson davis did the same exact things that lincoln did in the confederacy. now, last time we talked about succession.
when lincoln was elected the deep south succeeded and when he defended a boat to photo sumpter to send supplies and the confederates fired on fort sumpter in april 1861 the confederates started the war in a sense. they said lincoln started the war because he sent a boat to go to this place in charleston harbor and in the wake of them firing lincoln called for 75,000 troops to come to washington, d.c. to defend the national capital. this action on lincoln's part prompted the upper south to succeed so places like virginia where we are today succeeded and at that stage in the game in april 1861 it was of paramount interest to lincoln to keep the border slave states in the union and these are places like missouri, kentucky, maryland and delaware. now, why is it important to lincoln to keep these states in the union? what do you think? chris?
>> maryland becomes a southern state and d.c. is surrounded and that could really undermine the war effort. >> good, yeah. maryland leaves the union. if maryland joins the confederacy the national capital is completely surrounded by an enemy nation so it is imperative to keep maryland in the union. what other reasons can you think of? why would you want to keep the border slave states in the union? >> strategic purposes during the war you want as much land as possible between you and then my and so if he loses that and pretty much right on the doorstep. >> it keeps more space, more of maybe a buffer zone and it keeps more people in the union rather than having to fight against them they stay with you. any other thoughts about why you want the slave states to stay in
the june? ashley? >> it shows a mixture of the types of states that are in the union like if all of the slave states succeeded and became part of the confederacy it is a real divide but if you keep the slave states in, then it kind of shows that you're not really letting that happen. >> yeah. that way it is not just the free north. have you some slave states in the union and lincoln is willing to try to compromise and do things to prevent war. for our purposes today maryland is the most important that we'll look at. the reason is that all of the railroads that went from the north to washington, d.c. weren't through baltimore. i am going to use this google map to illustrate the railroad lines and it works well because the railroad lines of the 1860s followed our interstate highway system and so one line went from philadelphia down through baltimore and to washington d.c.
it roughly followed i-95. another line went from harrisburg roughly down i-83 to baltimore and another line came from the west roughly along route 70, and from here the trains would go southward to washington, d.c. so for lincoln it was imperative to keep maryland and keep baltimore in the union. if you're going to get troops to the national capital, then they have to go through baltimore. baltimore had a quirky system. it was illegal to have trains pass through the city attached to locomotives so trains coming in from philadelphia would arrive at president street station, the station here, and it is on the eastern side of the inner harbor. trains coming down from harrisburg would arrive north of this map and then training coming from the west came south. what would happen because of this quirky law is when the trains arrived at president
street station or the one north of this map, they would be detached from the locomotives, attached to a team of horses and drawn by horse all the way through the city so a train coming to president street from philadelphia would follow this line around the inner harbor to camden station. then from camden station they would be attached to a new locomotive and sent southward to washington, d.c. baltimore has changed a lot since 150 years ago but it might look familiar to some of you. if you go to baltimore you can retrace these steps and you have the hard rock cafe and the barnes & noble and the baltimore aquarium here and maybe some of you have been there and seen the sights. the first soldiers came down to baltimore on april 18, 1861 and came from pennsylvania from on the harrisburg line and so they stopped north of this map and they went southward and then a
number of people from baltimore came out and yelled at them and hurled insults and didn't like the idea of yankee scum treading through their city. there was no real violence that day on april 18, 1861. the next day the mobs were ready when more soldiers came in. at about 10 a.m. on the morning of april 19th, 1861, about 1,000 unarmed and ununiformed soldiers from pennsylvania and about 600 soldiers who are uniforms and weapons from massachusetts arrived at president street station. now, they had to take their cars, detach them from locomotives and go through the city to get over to camden station. the first several cars made it over without any problems. a mob rose up and they threw anchors over the tracks and sand and other debris and so that the railroad cars couldn't make it through the city. they threw bricks through the windows of the cars as the soldiers were being pulled through the city and eventually
started firing into the soldiers and i will show you a couple images of what this mob looked like. now, the soldiers were ordered not to fire into the crowd unless they were first fired upon. so they took the brunt of this mob violence for some time and then eventually one of the soldiers had his thumb shot off and then the soldiers were given the order to fire. it became a melee, about four soldiers and 12 civilians killed in this riot and dozens were wounded and dozens of soldiers ended up missing. they would run into the streets and try to find shelter and try to get away from the violence of the mob. this image gives you a sense of some of the commotion going on. i will show you one other. the police were actually in on
the violence and i will read a quote. he said this. i saw a soldier in the gutter and two men kicking him almost to death. the police officers were holding him down while the men were kicking him. you get the sense people from baltimore did not want union soldiers passing through their city. well, that night the leaders in maryland had to decide how can we prevent more violence from taking place so the governor of maryland, thomas hicks, the police marshal of baltimore and the mayor of maryland or the mayor of baltimore, george william brown, all met at the mayor's home, and they had to come up with a plan. well, we don't want any more violence in our city. how can we stop it? by preventing soldiers from am coming through. how do we stop soldiers from coming through our city?
by stopping the trains. well, how do we stop the trains? how about we burn all the railroad bridges around baltimore. if the bridges are burned out, then the trains can't pass through our city and if the trains can't pass through our city there won't be any more soldiers coming through and if the soldiers aren't coming through there won't be mob violence so the leaders of the government of maryland thought this was a good idea. on the night of april 19th and the early morning hours of april 20th members of the baltimore police and the maryland state militia rode around baltimore and around annapolis burning railroad bridges and here is a 19th century google map and shows you the train routes from philadelphia, harrisburg, from the west and around annapolis and these officials from the baltimore and maryland governments went out and burned out the bridges. well, soldiers continued to come down from pennsylvania and from elsewhere in the north. now they were forced to stop when they got to a burned out bridge. a contingent of about two 2,000 or 3,000 soldiers were stopped about 14 miles north of baltimore in a place called cockeysville, maryland and got
to a railroad bridge that was burned out and could go no further so they got out of their train cars and they set up camp on the farm of a guy named john merriman and this is an image of the farm, hayfields, and he has his mansion home there and cattle in the front and he was a very famous raiser of cattle in those days, and they camped out there. now, merriman allegedly promised to even slaughter his cattle to supply these guys with food although it is doubtful that was really true. southerners said that after the war. now, with 2,000 or 3,000 soldiers camped out 14 miles north of baltimore the leaders of baltimore were terrified. they were afraid the soldiers may march south to baltimore and get retribution and vengeance for the violence that had taken place and so the mayor hurried to the white house and said to lincoln, you have to send the
soldiers back. send them back to pennsylvania. you have to find a new way to get soldiers from the north to the d.c. capital. you can't keep sending them through baltimore, so the union army came up with a new solution. they would take soldiers to the northern end of the chesapeake bay and ferry them to annapolis and send them to d.c. from there and avoiding baltimore and trusting the wisdom and experience of his visitor, lincoln agreed, okay, i will send the soldiers camped out in cockeysville back to the pennsylvania line so on the morning of april 21 they packed up their belongings and headed northward. successionists were not yet satisfied. a general of the maryland militia who was in baltimore sent out an order to maryland state militia units saying follow those soldiers back to pennsylvania, back to the mason dixon line and burn all the railroad bridges between
baltimore and pennsylvania. so on the morning of april 23rd as the union soldiers retreated northward, a local militia unit called the baltimore county horse guards followed the soldiers and burned about six railroad bridges. the person leading that expedition was none other than john merriman, the first lieutenant in the militia unit and this gives you an image of two of his subordinates. we don't know who they are but they were members of the militia that went and burned out railroad bridges. now, there was a lot going on in maryland in april, 1861. lincoln decided he had to take drastic measures. he suspended the writ of habeas corpus. >> they can appeal to the judge and get the judge to force his arresting officer to bring him to the court so he can be either officially charged or released. >> good. if you are ever arrested, now, i
know this won't happen to you guys, you're all good law-abiding students, citizens, but if you have a friend that's ever arrested he or she has a right to know what he is being charged with. you can't be held and detained without charges indefinitely. so the writ of habeas corpus is a court order where if someone is being detained without charges, they can get a lawyer and the lawyer will go to a judge and say i petition for a writ of habeas corpus and it means to hold the body or have the body and this order will be sent to the person detaining the prisoner saying bring the body of the prisoner into court, before me, the judge, and tell me why you're detaining this prisoner and if i think it is a good reason, if it is a lawful reason, then i will order the prisoner to be charged and recommitted to prison. if i think it is an unlawful reason, then i will order the prisoner to be released. lincoln suspended that privilege. he suspended the privilege of the writ because article 1 of
section 9 says the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases where public safety may require it and lincoln said i am in an instance of rebellion and public safety requires me to do this. in a little bit we'll talk about what lincoln's arguments were and why this was a controversial decision. i want you to see how lincoln did this. he did this suspension not by a presidential proclamation. he didn't do it in an official way. he did it through private letters to his commanding general. this is his commanding general here winfield scott and this is the first letter and you read part of this for today. this is from april 25, 1861. i want you to react to the language. how does it strike you? it is hard to read. we'll read through it together. i therefore conclude that it is only left to the commanding
general to watch and await their action, the maryland legislature, which if it shall be to arm their people against the united states, he is to adopt the most prompt and efficient means to counteract even if necessary to the bombardment of their cities and in the extremist necessity the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. let this be a lesson to all of you when you do the blue back exams have good penmanship. fortunately lincoln's handwriting is good and we can even make out how he did editing. he even wrote even if necessary to the bombardment of their cities and of course the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and he changed of course and wrote in the extremist necessity. some historians look and say
this is careless editing. what do you think? what's going on here? what does it sound like lincoln might be willing to do? what does it tell you about his views of habeas corpus. >> he would rather bombard the city than suspend the writ. >> david, do you want to add to that? >> it sounds like lincoln might be more willing to bombard baltimore or annapolis or frederick, maryland, than suspend the writ. that's how sacred the writ of habeas corups is. people publicly didn't know that link an had suspended the writ of habeas corpus. well, about a month later union military authorities had retaken baltimore and had secured the areas, rebuilt the burned out bridges and they decided to arrest one of the people who was involved in the burning out of the railroad bridges and the person they selected was monday more than john merriman that
offered to slaughter his cattle and feed the soldiers and led an expedition following them burning out bridges so they couldn't return and this is john merriman's home and it is a country club today and it is a beautiful place. if you ever drive up route 83 north of baltimore you can see it from the highway. if you decide to walk around, don't wear jeans when you go. it is a beautiful home. at 2 in the morning on may 25, 1861, soldiers went to this home and broke in and found merriman and roused him from sleep and took him to fort mchenry from baltimore harbor. this is it here. it is famous because the star spangled banner was written there during the war of 1812. during the civil war this became
a camp where confederate pows and union people who are citizens and arrested for disloyalty were imprisoned and merriman was one of the first to be thrown in prison here. merriman was given access to lawyers and in fact i learned a couple weeks a couple months ago when i was giving a lecture, i met seven of his great grandchildren and they told me a story i wish i had know before i published the book. apparently when he was thrown in prison he was allowed to bring a table from home with him and the merriman family still has the table. i haven't seen it yet and i will make it up to maryland to see this thing and he took this table into fort mchenry and he was there for a month and a half and needed to make money so the merriman family story is that john merriman took this table
into fort mchenry and he would play poker with the prison guards and apparently fleeced them and he would make money and send it home so the family could buy the things they needed to support themselves during the time he wasn't home to care for the farm and make money for the family. well, he was given his table and access to lawyers and his lawyers decided that they would petition for a writ of habeas corpus. the judge who they decided to go to was none other than roger b. taney. taney is famous today because he wrote the majority opinion in the dred scott decision. he was a southerner from maryland and previously owned slaves and privately wrote letters saying he believed the confederacy should be allowed to go in peace. taney was looking for a reason
to embarrass the lincoln administration. when merriman's lawyers came to chief justice taney on indiana avenue in washington, d.c., he decided i will hear this case and he hurried to baltimore and presided over a case on a sunday. this gives you a sense of how important it was to chief justice taney. today we still don't hold court cases on sundays and many businesses are closed on sundays and imagine 150 years ago taney was willing to convene a court session on a sunday. taney had jurisdiction in this case. in those days supreme court justice would do something called riding circuit and it literally meant before the
advent of trains they would get on horse back and have a jurisdiction within the united states and they would ride around that jurisdiction hearing cases and would act as trial judges, and taney's jurisdiction included maryland and virginia and a few other places. so he hurried northward to baltimore and presided over this case and he heard the arguments from merriman's lawyers and said, yes, i will issue the writ of habeas corpus, and so he ordered his court officer, the marshal, to travel to fort mchenry to deliver the writ of habeas corpus and order the commanding general there, a guy named george cad welder to bring the body of merriman into court. well, the marshal got to fort mchenry and wouldn't let him in and so he had to go back to court and explain that he had tried to deliver the writ and it had not been allowed and so taney issued a verbal opinion
which he then sat down in writing and castigating lincoln for violating the constitution, saying that he exceeded his authority and you read part of that opinion for today. we'll talk about that in a few minutes. well, merriman sat in prison for about a month and a half. he was released in july of 1861. he was indicted in the federal courts for treason, but the case was never prosecuted and there is a couple of reasons for that. one is the federal government was weary of prosecuting treason cases. why do you guys suppose that would be? what would not hesitation for the federal government to prosecute a treason case? >> because if they prosecuted someone and didn't win the case then it would give the union a bad reputation. >> it would be a sign of weakness if you tried to prosecute and you didn't win. what else? >> if they did a lot of cases like you could have a bias one
way or the other and people could point that out and show proof that one way or the other against. >> yeah. it may look like a show trial and like you're trying to make a martyr out of the accused. lauren? >> taylor. >> i am sorry, taylor. if you do prosecute it would galvanize the south and that they're not treating the citizens right and not doing what they're supposed to. >> it may galvanize the south and that happened. chief justice taney had his ex parte case published as a pamphlet and it was published in newspapers throughout the south and jefferson davis gave speeches about this case saying look what the north is doing. why would we want to be part of the society if this is how they treat the citizens and we should be the own nation. >> basically rebellion and half the country is technically committing treason so where do you draw the line of trying everyone and a few people and it makes it complicated. >> yeah. half the nation is in rebellion.
it is a dicey issue. one last thing, the judge presiding over this case is none other than chief justice taney. you can imagine if you tried to bring a case for this like this before taney and before a jury of people from baltimore, many of whom might know john merriman or at least be sympathetic to his cause, it is going to be very difficult to get a conviction which comes back to maddy's point that becomes an embarrassment to the nation so the treason indictment hung over john merriman's head for six years and eventually it was dismissed. now, i love this picture of john merriman and i wanted to show it to you all here. this is a wonderful version of 19th century photoshop. john merriman never held this piece of paper but someone in the 1860s thought it would be a funny idea to put a piece of paper in his hands and write habeas corpus chief constitutes taney's opinion as a sign of how they viewed taney's actions in this case and he had airson in 1864 and named him roger brook taney merriman in honor of the chief justice that tried it on get him out of prison.
i want to talk about some of the other arrests that took place during the civil war. many of these arrests took place in the border regions, places like maryland, kentucky, west virginia, and missouri, and missouri in many ways was the harshest place during the civil war. you had guerilla warfare that went on for years. you had one side fighting against the other, neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, and oftentimes you didn't know who the enemy was because guerilla fighters didn't fight in regular uniforms. they might wear their enemy's uniform so they could approach the enemy and get close enough and then pull out their guns and shoot their enemy. you had instances where one group of people would burn down the other group's home and then the other group would retaliate and it would go back and forth so you could have whole villages or towns burned down. have any of you -- it is a terrible movie. have any of you seen ride with the devil?
it's an ang lee movie. jewel is in it and not a particularly good actress. jim caviezel is in it and toby maguire and the love story part is terrible but for the first 30 minutes they portray guerilla warfare in missouri and gives you an idea of how brutal it could be and they had to deal with this difficult situation. so they did what had been done in maryland earlier. they used the military to arrest guerilla fighters and people who helped guerillas. beginning in september of 1861 they added an innovation to these arrests. they began to use military commission trials to deal with civilians who aided guerillas and deal with the guerillas themselves. this system was instituted by a game named john fremont. that's him in the corner. he was the first republican candidate for president in 1856 and during the civil war was a prominent politician and given a
general's commission. he was put in charge of missouri, and in september 1861 john fremont declared marshal law. in this declaration of marshal law he did a couple things. he said i am going to free the slaves of confederate sympathizers, and i am going to try disloyal people in military courts. now, lincoln rescinded the part of this order that freed the slaves. he said you're a military commander, have you no authority to do something like that but lincoln allowed fremont to continue using military commission trials to try civilians, and over the course of the war this system spread so by the end of the war and into the reconstruction period you had civilians and military fighters in military courts. it began in missouri in 1861. the question that we have to think about is who was arrested?
what kind of people were arrested? historically, most people only knew about name famous cases like merriman and one we'll talk about in a minute with a politician from ohio and about 20 years ago a historian who will be here as part of our conference next week did ten years worth of research in the national archives looking for every scrap of paper he could find that had anything to do with military arrests and trials of civilians during the civil war. he found about 14,000 civilians who were arrested by the military and about 4300 tried before military commissions. what he found was the traditional narrative that these were all democrats who opposed lincoln was not true. many of the people who were arrested and in fact most of the people arrested were civilians who in some way were either aiding the confederacy or hurting the union war effort. these are people who trade with confederates and send them