This Week in the Civil War - 658

Sep 16, 2013

On Tuesday, September 15, 1863, citing the existing “state of rebellion,” President Abraham Lincoln suspended the exercise of habeas corpus, depriving persons held by the military or civil authorities of the privilege of being brought before a judge to determine if there was sufficient evidence to warrant their continuing detention. 

In prior years Lincoln had authorized similar suspensions.  Now, with Copperhead activity in the North at an all-time low, the president once again suspended the privilege of habeas corpus. 

Despite Chief Justice Roger Taney’s concerns, the Supreme Court would not determine whether the Constitution gave the president special power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus during wartime until after the war had ended.  As head of the Union war effort, Lincoln freely exercised extraordinary power during the American Civil War.