Montgomery Advertiser, Friday 2 May 2014, Letters to Editor, page 9A.
Persecution of Maryland by Lincoln little remembered
In the April 29 issue of the Montgomery Advertiser, there appeared a historical blurb stating that on this date in 1861, the Maryland House of Delegates voted 53-13 against seceding from the Union. What it did not say is that President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in Maryland and the border states, which meant that anyone in those states could be thrown in prison for as long as desired without ever being charged with any crime or having a trial.
Lincoln had numerous Maryland House of Delegate members imprisoned because they favored secession. If they were in prison, they couldn't vote for — or influence votes for — secession.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Roger B. Taney, defied Lincoln and declared the suspension unconstitutional. Taney issued a writ of habeas corpus for one of the delegates, John Merryman, to be brought before the Supreme Court. Merryman was an outspoken secessionist.
Lincoln disregarded the writ and proceeded utilizing the Union army to imprison anyone he wished. He imprisoned thousands of people without charges. Newspaper editors were prime targets should they dare print any anti-Lincoln or anti-war sentiment.
Maryland was of utmost importance, for it surrounds Washington, D.C. Border states were critical as buffers and also to separate other potential secession states like Delaware from seceding. Lincoln inundated them with Union troops, and we know what happened to anyone who didn't like it.
There is nothing new about selective adherence to the Constitution.