Military despotism! Arbitrary arrest of a judge

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search


MILITARY DESPOTISM!

ARBITRARY ARREST OF A JUDGE!!

At the conclusion of the war with England, on the 3d of March, 1815, while General Jackson was in New Orleans, an article appeared in the Louisiana Courier concluding as follows:—

"Let us conclude by saying that it is high time the laws should resume their empire; that the citizens of this State should return to the full enjoyment of their rights; that, in acknowledging that we are indebted to General Jackson for the preservation of our city and the defeat of the British, we do not feel inclined, through gratitude, to sacrifice any of our privileges, and, less than any other, that of expressing our opinion of the acts of his administration; that it is time the citizens accused of any crime should be rendered to their natural judges, and cease to be brought before special or military tribunals, a kind of institution held in abhorrence, even in absolute governments; that, after having done enough for glory, the moment of moderation has arrived; and, finally, that the acts of authority which the invasion of our country and our safety may have rendered necessary, are, since the evacuation of it by the enemy, no longer compatible with our dignity and our oath of making the Constitution respected."

Here was open defiance. Jackson accepted the issue with a promptness all his own. He sent an order to the editor of the paper in which the article appeared, commanding his immediate presence at head quarters. The name of the author of the communication was demanded and given. It was Mr. Louallier, a member of the Legislature, a gentleman who had distinguished himself BY HIS ZEAL IN THE PUBLIC CAUSE, and who had been PARTICULARLY PROMINENT IN PROMOTING SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR THE RELIEF OF THE ILL CLAD SOLDIERS. Upon his surrendering the name the editor was dismissed. At noon on Sunday, the 5th of March, two days after the publication of the article, Mr. Louallier was walking along the levee, opposite one of the most frequented coffee-houses in the city, when a captain, commanding a file of soldiers, tapped him on the shoulder and informed him that he was a prisoner. Louallier, astonished and indignant, called the bystanders to witness that he was conveyed away against his will by armed men. A lawyer, P. L. Morel by name, who witnessed the arrest, ran to the spot, and was forthwith engaged by Louallier to act as his legal adviser in this extremity. Louallier was placed in confinement. Morel hastened to the residence of Judge Dominick A. Hall, Judge of the District Court of the United States, to whom he presented, in his client's name, a petition praying for a writ of habeas corpus.

Upon the back of this petition (to the facts of which Morel made affidavit). Judge Hall wrote these words:—

Let the prayer of the petition be granted, and the petitioner be brought before me at eleven o'clock to-morrow.

Dom. A. Hall.

March 6th.

Upon receiving this from the hands of the Judge, Morel wrote a note to General Jackson to the following effect:

Sir: I have the honor to inform your excellency that, as counsel, I have made application to his Honor, Dom. A. Hall, Judge of the District Court of the U. S., for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of Mr. Louallier, who conceived that he was illegally arrested by order of your excellency; and that the said writ has been awarded, and is returnable to-morrow, 6th instant, at eleven o'clock, A. M.

I have the honor to be your excellency's most humble and obedient servant,

P. L. Morel, Counsellor at Law.

General Jackson retorted by writing as follows to Colonel Arbuckle:

New Orleans, March 5th, 1815,
Seven o'clock, P. M.

Head Quarters, Seventh Military District:

Having received proof that Dominick A. Hall has been aiding and abetting and exciting mutiny within my camp, you will forthwith order a detachment to arrest and confine him, and report to me as soon as arrested. You will be vigilant; the agents of our enemy are more numerous than was expected. You will be guarded against escapes.

A. Jackson, Major Gen'l. Com'd.

Dr. William E. Butler is ordered to accompany the detachment and point out the man.

A. Jackson, Major Gen'l. Com'd.

This order was punctually obeyed, and, early in the evening, Judge Hall and Mr. Louallier were prisoners in the same apartment in the barracks.

So far from obeying the writ of habeas corpus, General Jackson seized the writ from the officer who served it, and retained it in his own possession, giving to the officer a certified copy of the same. Louallier was at once placed upon his trial before a Court Martial upon the following charges, all based upon the article in the Louisiana Courier: Exciting to mutiny; general misconduct; being a spy; illegal and improper conduct; disobedience to orders; writing a wilful and corrupt libel against the General; violation of a general order.

Judge Hall remained in confinement at the barracks. General Jackson resolved on Saturday, the 11th of March; to send the Judge out of the city, and set him at liberty, issuing the following order:

Head Quarters, Seventh Military District,
New Orleans, March 11, 1815.

Sir: You will detail from your troop a discreet non-commissioned officer and four men, and direct them to call on the officer commanding the Third U. S. Infantry, for Dominick A. Hall, who is confined in the guard house for exciting mutiny and desertion within the encampment of the city.

Upon the receipt of the prisoner, the non-commissioned officer will conduct him up the coast beyond the lines of General Carroll's encampment, deliver him the enclosed order, and set him at liberty.

Thomas Butler, Aid-de-Camp.

To Captain Peter N. Ogden,

Commanding Troop of Cavalry.

Captain Ogden promptly obeyed the order. A guard of four privates, commanded by a non-commissioned officer, escorted the learned Judge of the United States District Court to a point about five miles above the city, where General Jackson's order was delivered to him, and he was set free.

On the 31st of March, General Jackson was cited to appear before the U. S. District Court, for arresting the Judge. The proceedings of the court are recorded as follows:

"On this day appeared in person, Major-General Andrew Jackson, and, being duly informed by the Court that an attachment had issued against him for the purpose of bringing him into Court, and the District Attorney having filed interrogatories, the Court informed General Jackson that they would be tendered to him for the purpose of answering thereto. The said General Jackson refused to receive them, or to make any answer to the said interrogatories. Whereupon the Court proceeded to pronounce judgment, which was, that Major-General Andrew Jackson, do pay a fine of one thousand dollars to the United States."

The General was borne from the Court room in triumph, or, as Major Eaton has it:

"He was seized and forcibly hurried from the hall to the streets, amidst the reiterated cries of huzza for Jackson from the immense concourse that surrounded him. They presently met a carriage in which a lady was riding, when politely taking her from it, the General was made, spite of entreaty, to occupy her place; the horses being removed, the carriage was drawn on and halted at the coffee-house, into which he was carried, and thither the crowd followed, huzzaing for Jackson, and menacing violently the Judge. Having prevailed upon them to hear him, he addressed them with great feeling and earnestness; implored them to run into no excesses; that if they had the least gratitude for his services, or regard for him personally, they would evince it in no way so satisfactorily as by assenting, as he most freely did, to the decision which had just been pronounced against him.

"Upon reaching his quarters, he sent back an aid-de-camp to the Court room, with a check on one of the city banks for a thousand dollars;* and thus the offended majesty of the law was supposed to be avenged."—Extracts from Life of Jackson, pp. 311 to 320, vol. 2.


Nine years after, this "military despot," who made the "arbitrary arrest," was elected President by the Democracy.


A Piece of Hickory.

^* During the session of Congress in 1842, Senator Linn of Mo. introduced the bill for refunding the Money to Jackson, with interest, amounting to $2700. In the House it was supported by S. A. Douglas, of Illinois, and C. J. INGERSOLL, of Penn. The bill passed the Senate by a party vote of 28 to 20, Calhoun voting for it; in the House by 158 to 28. Congress thus sustaining his action.