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Syndi Holmes

The Republican Party's Long History of Contempt for the Constitution
By Syndi Holmes
Aug 2, 2004 - 8:51:00 AM

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History repeats itself because so few know or recall their historical past, or because they only recall the mythology that masquerades as historical fact. One hundred and forty-four years ago, another Republican president presided over an America deeply divided by social, political and economic issues, not to mention that the citizenry were polarised by his very presence. The divisions were partly due to slavery, partly due to philosophical differences on the type of government that should run this country, the Republicans advocated a strong federal system, that is a strong centralised government to control the country, while the Democrats favoured a looser confederacy with states' rights as it's guiding principal, as per Thomas Jefferson, and partly due to the competing economics, the industrialising North versus the agricultural South.

Today, the Republican Party often references itself as the party of Lincoln, and with more than good reason. The similarities become starkly clear in regard to Lincoln and the current administration; especially the contempt both have expressed towards the Constitutional Rights of citizens of America.

Lincoln believed that he needed to violate the U.S. Constitution in order to save it. In 1861,he delayed the start of Congress by two and one half months. He ran the country on Executive Orders, even declared War by Executive Order on the seceded states in defiance of the Constitution and assumed all powers not delegated in the Constitution, including the power to suspend habeas corpus. Lincoln also suspended civil law in territories where resistance to the North's military power would be dangerous. In 1862, when Democrats and other Americans opposed his tyrannical violations of the Constitution, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus throughout the nation and had many American citizens arrested under military authority because he felt that he could not trust the State Courts in the north and west to convict war protesters.

There were 13,000 citizens arrested under martial law, including members of the Maryland legislature, Baltimore's Mayor and Chief of Police, who were arrested without charge, trial or conviction, and were jailed in Fort Warren, Boston. One detainee, a Maryland southern sympathiser, John Merryman, wrote to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Roger B. Taney, after his arrest requesting a writ of habeas corpus. The Chief Justice issued a writ of habeas corpus, commanding the military to bring Merryman before him but the Union leader, General Cadwalder, refused to comply with the writ. Justice Taney then ruled the suspension of habeas corpus was unconstitutional because it could not be suspended without an Act of Congress; but President Lincoln and the military ignored Justice Taney's ruling. In fact, President Lincoln responded by having an arrest warrant issued for the Chief Justice, although the warrant was not carried out. Whoever opposed the president became a traitor!

After the war, Congress limited the president's powers with respect to the issuance of Executive Orders and, in 1866, the Supreme Court officially restored habeas corpus and ruled that military trials in areas where the civil courts were capable of functioning were illegal in the case of Ex-parte Mulligan. A former editor and two term member of the House of Representatives who served during the 37th "Rubber Stamp" Congress from Ohio, Clement Laird Vallandigham, was an outspoken critic of Lincoln's habit of jailing many who disagreed with him and loudly protested the war. Mr. Vallandigham also introduced legislation that called for the President to be arrested if he continued to jail newspaper editors who wrote editorials against the president's anti-constitutional policies, however in a Republican controlled House, the measure failed. After his term in Congress expired, he returned to Ohio to continue his anti-war activities.

Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky had been placed under the control of the Ohio Department, a military governing body, as the Federal government considered their citizens to be liabilities. General Ambrose Burnside, was the commander of the Department of the Ohio, and regarded anti-war demonstrations as treason and those who participated in such activities as spies and traitors; he even declared that "the habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy will no longer be tolerated in this department. Persons committing such offenses will be at once arrested" by the Ohio Department. He issued various Military Order including Order No. 9 that declared that criticism of the Civil or Military Administrations was a crime; No. 15 which rescinded the Second Amendment of the Constitution, and No. 38 which recommended a sentence of death by hanging to anyone found guilty of "implied treason."

On May 1, 1863, while running for Governor of Ohio, Mr. Vallandigham gave a speech decrying the "monarchical usurpations ... the disgraceful surrender of the rights and liberties of the people by the last infamous Congress, and the conversion of the government into a despotism." Several days later, during the night at 2:30 AM , he was arrested, taken to Cincinnati, and within 24 hours, without ever being arraigned before a judge, was tried by court-martial, convicted, and sentenced to close confinement in Fort Warren, Boston. Vallandigham had entered no plea to either his guilt or innocence, but steadfastly told the "court" that it had no legal right to try him.

On February 15, 1864, after supporters of Vallandigham had petitioned the Supreme Court, the Court announced it would refuse to hear the case, on the grounds that it had no authority to review the proceedings of a martial law court. The editor of the Dayton Empire, John Logan, whose newspaper wrote an article decrying the government's action of Vallandigham's arrest, was also arrested. After Vallandigham's sentence was given, President Lincoln changed the sentence to a banishment to the Confederacy, but after being exiled, Mr. Vallandigham went to Canada until the war ended, then returned to Ohio to practice law.

Besides the Dayton, Ohio editor, John Logan, from 1861 on, over a hundred newspapers in the North were closed and many editors and owners were arrested and imprisoned by the military for expressing unpatriotic views. On May 18, 1864, President Lincoln ordered General John Dix: "You will take possession by military force, of the printing establishments of the New York World and Journal of Commerce ... and prohibit any further publication thereof ... you are therefore commanded forthwith to arrest and imprison ... the editors, proprietors and publishers of the aforesaid newspapers."

Telegraph communication in the North were also censored . Total censorship became the rule in the North under Lincoln.

In Mark Neely's book, Fate of Liberty, he gives an account on page 110 of how Lincoln's military became quite proficient at torturing Northern civilians who had been arrested without writ; he writes, "Handcuffs and hanging by the wrists were rare, but in the summer of 1863, the army had developed a water torture that came to be used routinely." and that when his cabinet became informed of the torture none "expressed any personal outrage or personal feeling at all over it."

And we are all told in grade school what a great president Lincoln was?

So this current administration is following in the same exact footprints of Lincoln- they recall the lessons of history all too well - it is the American people who are being manipulated in their ignorance.

For the sake of your freedom, wake up America, and see what is being perpetrated on you!

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