Page:Suspension of Habeas Corpus during the War of the Rebellion.djvu/28

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
No. 3.]

other European writers may, perhaps, be liberally construed and administered in monarchical countries, but in a country with a written constitution giving only limited powers to the government, they must yield to the constitution and suffer change whenever they contradict it.

Booth murdered Lincoln, declaring that it was for the good of his country, and he was hunted down and shot as he deserved; but his accomplices were tried by a military commission. Guiteau murdered Garfield, saying that it was for the good of his country, and he was tried by the ordinary process of the law. There is no difference between the two cases. They are both crimes triable only in court.

A discussion of martial law is never complete until General Jackson's declaration of it at New Orleans is mentioned. After he had fought and won the battle of New Orleans and knew, though not officially, of the ratification of the treaty of peace, he undertook to govern the city by martial law. The excuse he gave was that the enemy, though beaten, were still in the neighborhood and might return, that the knowledge of peace had demoralized the militia under his command, and brought the whole city into a state of turbulence. Jackson always believed that the salvation of the country depended on his being absolute master of every one about him, and this trait had probably as much to do with the declaration of martial law as any difficulty or danger in his situation. A certain Louallier thought his conduct illegal, and was bold enough to say so in print. He was immediately arrested. Judge Hall of the United States district court issued a habeas corpus for his release, and Jackson, being determined to strike at the root of the matter, arrested the judge. Afterwards, when the judge got back into his court, he called Jackson before him and fined him a thousand dollars for contempt. Jackson promptly paid the fine, and after many years it was refunded to him by act of Congress. In passing the act some of Jackson's friends justified him on the ground of necessity which, they maintained, always decided the right or wrong of martial law. Others did not seam to care whether his act was legal or not; he was a grand old