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survive the war.Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus infuriated RogerB. Taney, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, whoSTEPHEN B. OATES / 121
accused the President of usurping power. Taney argued that onlyCongress could legally suspend the writ, and he admonished Lincolnnot to violate the very laws he had sworn to defend. “Are all thelaws, but one, to go unexecuted,” Lincoln asked Congress, in refer-ence to habeas corpus, “and the government itself go to pieces lestthat one be violated?” Moreover, the Constitution did not specifywhich branch of the government could suspend the writ, so thatLincoln did not think he had broken any laws or violated his oathof office.Still, he invoked his presidential powers in heretofore undreamed-of ways, as we have seen in the matter of emancipation. Recall,though, the novelty of the war. Nothing like this had ever occurredin America, and there were no guidelines in dealing with dissentand national security in the midst of a giant domestic insurrectionthat imperiled the nation itself. As in most war matters, Lincoln andhis Cabinet found themselves in uncharted legal territory.In 1862 the President centralized jurisdiction over internal-securitymatters in the War Department. To deal with such matters, the de-partment created a corps of civilian provost marshals, but allowedthem too much independence in policing and jailing alleged disloy-alists. Their zealous, far-ranging operations led to widespread criti-cism of the Lincoln administration. At the same time, Lincoln’s WarDepartment empowered army officers to apprehend anybody whodiscouraged volunteering or otherwise helped the enemy. And thedepartment got up dragnets in which state militia, home guards,police chiefs, and vigilantes all participated. In all, they seized andimprisoned at least 14,000 people—many of them antiwar Demo-crats—under Lincoln’s authority. The outcry against arbitrary arrestsbecame so strident that Lincoln tried to restrain excessive use ofpower whenever he could. He speedily ordered the release of peopleunwarrantedly arrested, especially political prisoners. Also, whenGeneral Ambrose E. Burnside suspended the Chicago Timesfor vir-ulent outbursts against the administration, Lincoln promptly revokedthe order.122 / ABRAHAM LINCOLN
The most controversial military arrest was that of Clement L. Val-landigham, an Ohio congressman and a leading antiwar Democrat.“Valiant Val,” as his friends called him, accused Lincoln of dishon-oring the Constitution with his “tyrannical” measures, of abandoningthe war for the Union in favor of a crusade for Negroes in which thewhite people were to be enslaved. “I see nothing before us,” hewarned war-weary northerners, “but universal political and socialrevolution, anarchy and bloodshed, compared with which the Reignof Terror in the French Revolution was a merciful visitation.” ForVallandigham, the solution was clear: stop the fighting and negotiatea peace with the rebels that would somehow restore the old Unionand the old certitudes. Stumping Ohio in the spring of 1863, he de-