Letter To The Editor

Lincoln's other side

by John C. Meiller, Senoia

On April 27, 1861, Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus to squelch any opposition to his policies and ordered the military to enforce it on the northern citizens for the duration of his presidency. This meant anyone could be arrested without warrant or trial and imprisoned.

Thousands of antiwar protestors, including newspaper editors, even priests and preachers, were imprisoned.

Try to imagine Richard Nixon doing this. The consensus among historians is that more than 13,000 political prisoners were held in Lincoln’s military prisons.

Fort LaFayette, a prison in New York Harbor, came to be known as the American bastille and is where most of Maryland’s legislature ended up.

In May 1861, the journal of Commerce in New York published a list of more than 100 Northern newspapers that had editorialized against going to war.

The Lincoln Administration responded by ordering the postmaster general to deny these papers mail delivery.

At that time nearly all newspaper deliveries were made by mail, so this action put every one of these papers out of circulation.

Today the victors in war usually are the authors of history, but it would be helpful to the citizens if the newspapers tried to provide a little more of the whole picture.

John C. Meiller, Senoia

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