So I was busy ranting about it and posting links to the text on all my social networks when someone mentioned that the US has been under a state of martial law for a long time, since Abraham Lincoln first signed a proclamation back in 1862 to be exact. My first reaction was, "yeah, ok. whatever." But then, that person gave me a website to check with. Now, this peaked my curiosity. I am not one to take one website, though, and then proclaim it to be true. I need independent verification of things like this. So I did some research.
The first site that I found with any mention of this referred to the original website I was given so that can't really be counted as independent verification. Here it is anyway.
I kept looking. I found the wikipedia page about martial law...no mention.
I found other proclamations, but had a very hard time locating one that was for the entire United States. The first one I found was for Kentucky.
Finally I stumbled across a site that had the actual text from the proclamation that President Lincoln issued for the entire United States
Here is the proclamation that President Lincoln signed:
- BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
- Whereas, it has become necessary to call into service not only
volunteers but also portions of the militia of the States by draft in
order to suppress the insurrection existing in the United States, and
disloyal persons are not adequately restrained by the ordinary processes
of law from hindering this measure and from giving aid and comfort in
various ways to the insurrection;
Now, therefore, be it ordered, first, that during the existing insurrection and as a necessary measure for suppressing the same, all Rebels and Insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice, affording aid and comfort to Rebels against the authority of United States, shall be subject to martial law and liable to trial and punishment by Courts Martial or Military Commission:
Second. That the Writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended in respect to all persons arrested, or who are now, or hereafter during the rebellion shall be, imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prison, or other place of confinement by any military authority of by the sentence of any Court Martial or Military Commission.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this twenty fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the 87th.
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
This order differs from other orders that President Lincoln signed in that there is no end date or expiration proclamation found within. From everything I can find, there was never any proclamation that lifted martial law. I found one site that claims President Lincoln tried to lift martial law, but that Congress would not agree and so it was never done.
In the Kentucky proclamation there was a specific decree for when martial law would end there:
"the said suspension and establishment of martial law to continue until this proclamation shall be revoked or modified, but not beyond the period when the said rebellion shall have been suppressed or come to an end."
Okay, it's not super specific, but it does mention an end. I am still trying to find when and IF martial law ever ended nationwide. So far, I have come up with nothing. Is it possible that all of the United States, except perhaps Kentucky, is still under martial law by way of a proclamation by President Lincoln from 1862? Or have I miss something completely?