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INVESTIGATION: Do You Know How Many Times Martial Law Has Been Declared In The United States?


This is an article I originally posted about a year ago, but thanks to a message from a reader today (which I have to keep private) I thought it was good timing to post this again…

This might become very relevant in the near future, I don’t know.

Read the original article below and keep this “top of mind” for the next few weeks.


Does Declaring Martial Law seem “far fetched”?

Seem like it couldn’t possibly actually happen?

Well, you might be surprised to learn exactly how many times it HAS already happened in the history of our country.

According to some, the count is 64 times!

Still others like the Brennan Center (no, not THAT Brennan) count 68 times:

On August 20, 1942, military police in Honolulu, Hawaii, arrested a man named Harry White. Under normal circumstances, the U.S. military would not have been involved in his case. He was a stockbroker, not a soldier, and neither he nor his business had any connection with the armed forces. Even his alleged crime — embezzlement of funds from a client — was a violation of civilian, not military, law.

But nothing about Hawaii was normal in 1942. It had been under martial law since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Its courts were closed and replaced with military tribunals. The rules governing everyday life were set not by an elected legislature but by the military governor. The army controlled every aspect of life in the islands, from criminal justice to parking zones and curbside trash removal.

White was brought before a military provost court. His attorney objected to the court’s jurisdiction, requested a jury trial, and asked for time to prepare a defense. But Major Murrell, the presiding military officer, rejected these motions. Instead, just five days after being arrested, White was tried without a jury, convicted, and sentenced to five years in prison.

As White’s story illustrates, martial law — a term that generally refers to the displacement of civilian authorities by the military — can be and has been employed in the United States. Indeed, federal and state officials have declared martial law at least 68 times over the course of U.S. history. footnote5_2j98s6h5 Yet the concept has never been well understood. The Constitution does not mention martial law, and no act of Congress defines it. The Supreme Court has addressed it on only a handful of occasions, and the Court’s reasoning in these decisions is inconsistent and vague. The precedents are also old: the most recent one — in which the Court overturned Harry White’s conviction — was decided almost 75 years ago.

This report aims to clear up the confusion that surrounds martial law. To do so, it draws on recent legal scholarship, the few rules that can be gleaned from Supreme Court precedent, and general principles of constitutional law. It concludes that under current law, the president lacks any authority to declare martial law. Congress might be able to authorize a presidential declaration of martial law, but this has not been conclusively decided. State officials do have the power to declare martial law, but their actions under the declaration must abide by the U.S. Constitution and are subject to review in federal court.

Outside of these general principles, there are many questions that simply cannot be answered given the sparse and confusing legal precedent. Moreover, although lacking authority to replace civilian authorities with federal troops, the president has ample authority under current law to deploy troops to assist civilian law enforcement. Until Congress and state legislatures enact stricter and better-defined limits, the exact scope of martial law will remain unsettled, and the president’s ability to order domestic troop deployments short of martial law will be dangerously broad.
Part I: What is Martial Law?

“Martial law” has no established definition.

In the United States, however, the military’s domestic activities typically fall into one of three categories. First, the armed forces sometimes assist civilian authorities with “non–law enforcement” functions. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the military deployed helicopters along the Gulf Coast to carry out search-and-rescue missions that local governments were unable to do themselves. Second, and far less frequently, the military assists civilian authorities with “law enforcement” activities. For example, state and federal troops were deployed to help police suppress the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Third, on some occasions, the military has taken the place of the civilian government. This is what happened in Hawaii during World War II.

Usually, but not always, the term “martial law” refers to the third category. It describes a power that, in an emergency, allows the military to push aside civilian authorities and exercise jurisdiction over the population of a particular area. Laws are enforced by soldiers rather than local police. Policy decisions are made by military officers rather than elected officials. People accused of crimes are brought before military tribunals rather than ordinary civilian courts. In short, the military is in charge.

This is a dramatic departure from normal practice in the United States. The U.S. military, when allowed to act domestically at all, is ordinarily limited to assisting civilian authorities. Martial law turns that relationship on its head. The displacement of civilian government distinguishes it from other emergency powers, such as the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Suspending the writ allows the government to detain and hold individuals without charge but does not imply any unusual role for the armed forces. While a declaration of martial law might be accompanied by a suspension of habeas corpus, they are distinct concepts.

Martial law has not always meant what it does today. The term first appeared in England in the 1530s during the reign of King Henry VIII. At that time and for centuries afterward, martial law generally referred to what is now called “military law.” This is the law that applies when a soldier is court-martialed. In the modern United States, it is codified in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. footnote5_rd67z6r11

U.S. law did not recognize martial law as an emergency power until the mid-19th century. Before that time, the idea of allowing military rule in an emergency was considered outrageous — as evidenced by the national reaction to the first declaration of martial law in U.S. history. In December 1814, toward the end of the War of 1812, Gen. Andrew Jackson led a small army in the defense of New Orleans against a much larger invading British force. As part of his defensive preparations, Jackson imposed martial law on the city. He censored the press, enforced a curfew, and detained numerous civilians without charge. Moreover, he continued military rule for more than two months after his famous victory at the Battle of New Orleans had ended any real threat from the British.

Jackson argued that his actions were justified because the government in New Orleans had ceased to function as a result of the impending British attack, leaving the military as the only body able to protect the city. In that situation, he claimed, the military had the authority to do anything that was “necessary” to preserve New Orleans. This was a novel argument, and it did little to explain why he kept the city under martial law for so long.

At the time, almost everyone rejected Jackson’s theory, which perhaps is unsurprising. The founding generation had been deeply suspicious of military power. That suspicion is apparent in the Declaration of Independence, which accuses King George III of rendering “the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power” — and in the Constitution, which pointedly divides the war powers between Congress and the president, and requires that the commander in chief always be a civilian.

In an 1815 case, the Louisiana Supreme Court described Jackson’s conduct in New Orleans as “trampling upon the Constitution and laws of our country.” Similarly, acting Secretary of War Alexander Dallas explained in a letter to Jackson that martial law had no legal existence in the United States outside of the Articles of War, the predecessor to the modern Uniform Code of Military Justice. Overall, the consensus in 1815 was that martial law was simply another term for military law, and that military jurisdiction could extend no further than the armed forces themselves.

After Jackson relinquished control of New Orleans back to its civilian government, the local federal district judge held him in contempt of court, fining him $1,000. Jackson paid the fine, and for the next 27 years, nothing more came of the incident. However, in the early 1840s, the now-aging former president orchestrated a campaign in Congress to refund him the cost of the fine, plus interest.

The ensuing congressional refund debates marked the beginning of a shift in how Americans understood martial law. By pursuing a refund, Jackson hoped to set a precedent for, as one historian put it, “the legitimacy of violating the Constitution and civil liberties in times of national emergency.” He got exactly what he wanted. Congress enacted the refund bill in February 1844, symbolically endorsing Jackson’s three-month-long imposition of martial law in New Orleans almost 30 years after it had ended.

By this time, the United States’ second experience with martial law was already underway in Rhode Island. The so-called “Dorr War” involved a dispute over the state’s first constitution, which severely restricted the right to vote. In 1842, after efforts to reform this system had been rebuffed for years, a large group of Rhode Islanders led by Thomas Dorr organized its own constitutional convention, adopted a new constitution, held elections, and declared itself the true government of Rhode Island. When Dorr rallied his supporters to assert their authority by force, the Rhode Island General Assembly declared martial law and called out the state militia to suppress the rebellion.

In 1849, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of Rhode Island’s martial law declaration in Luther v. Borden.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roger Taney — of Dred Scott infamy — embraced Andrew Jackson’s idea that martial law allows civilians to be subjected to military jurisdiction in an emergency. He described this power as an essential part of states’ right to defend themselves and suggested that it is inherent to all sovereign governments. By endorsing the constitutionality of martial law, the Supreme Court finished what Congress had started with the refund bill. The Luther decision makes clear that martial law exists as an emergency power that can be invoked in the United States, at least by state legislatures.

But Luther also leaves many questions unanswered. It does not explain the legal basis for martial law, its scope, when it may be declared, or who is authorized to declare it. Indeed, the Supreme Court has never directly held, in Luther or any subsequent case, that the federal government has the power to impose martial law. In one case, the Court suggested in “dicta”— a term for language in a judicial opinion that is not a necessary part of the holding and is not strictly legally binding — that the federal government may declare martial law. footnote18_j5y04w024 It assumed the same in another case, but only for the purpose of deciding a narrower legal question. Neither of those decisions conclusively affirms that a federal martial law power exists.

From Wikipedia:

In the United States martial law has been declared for a state or other locality under various circumstances including after a direct foreign attack (Hawaii after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; New Orleans during the Battle of New Orleans); after a major disaster (Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906); and in response to chaos associated with protests and mob action (San Francisco during the 1934 West Coast waterfront strike; Montgomery, Alabama, following the mob actions against the Freedom Riders). It has also been declared by renegade local leaders seeking to avoid arrest or challenges to their authority (Nauvoo, Illinois by Joseph Smith during the Illinois Mormon War and Utah by Governor Brigham Young during the Utah War).

The martial law concept in the United States is closely tied with the right of habeas corpus, which is in essence the right to a hearing on lawful imprisonment, or more broadly, the supervision of law enforcement by the judiciary. The ability to suspend habeas corpus is related to the imposition of martial law. Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” There have been many instances of the use of the military within the borders of the United States, such as during the Whiskey Rebellion and in the South during the Civil Rights Movement, but these acts are not tantamount to a declaration of martial law. The distinction must be made as clear as that between martial law and military justice: deployment of troops does not necessarily mean that the civil courts cannot function, and as the Supreme Court has noted, that is one of the keys to martial law.

In United States law, martial law is limited by several court decisions handed down between the American Civil War and World War II. In 1878, Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act, which, depending on the circumstances, can forbid U.S. military involvement in domestic law enforcement without congressional approval.

The Military Times explains how President Trump might declare Martial Law:

Throughout 2020, America has faced a global pandemic, civil unrest after the death of George Floyd and a contentious election. As a result, an influx of fear about the possibility of the invocation of martial law or unchecked military intervention is circulating around the internet among scholars and civilians alike.

“The fear is certainly understandable, because as I’m sure you know, martial law isn’t described or confined or limited, proscribed in any way by the Constitution or laws,” Bill Banks, a Syracuse professor with an expertise in constitutional and national security law, told Military Times. “If someone has declared martial law, they’re essentially saying that they are the law.”

What is ‘martial law’

In short, martial law can be imposed when civil rule fails, temporarily being replaced with military authority in a time of crisis. Though rare, there have been a number of notable U.S. cases where martial law came into play, including in times of war, natural disaster and civic dispute — of which there has been no shortage in 2020.

While no precise definition of martial law exists, a precedent for it exists wherein, “certain civil liberties may be suspended, such as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom of association, and freedom of movement. And the writ of habeas corpus [the right to a trial before imprisonment] may be suspended,” according to documents from JRANK, an online legal encyclopedia.

Martial law may be declared by both the president and by Congress. State officials may also declare martial law, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, however, “their actions under the declaration must abide by the U.S. Constitution and are subject to review in federal court.”

“Notorious examples include Franklin D. Roosevelt’s internment of U.S. citizens and residents of Japanese descent during World War II and George W. Bush’s programs of warrantless wiretapping and torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” the Atlantic reported. “Abraham Lincoln conceded that his unilateral suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War was constitutionally questionable, but defended it as necessary to preserve the Union.”

Throughout the course of U.S. history, federal and state officials have declared martial law at least 68 times, according to Joseph Nunn, an expert with the Brennan Center for Justice.

Martial law does have limits. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed on June 18, 1878, prevented federal troops from supervising Confederate state elections during Reconstruction. Though initially it only applied to the Army, it has been amended to include the Defense Department and, of course, the other service branches. That act prevents troops from enforcing domestic law, preventing such actions as searching and seizing property or dispersing crowds. However, National Guard units, which take their direction from state governors, are exempt from the Posse Comitatus Act.
One exception to Posse Comitatus, however, is the Insurrection Act, which allows the use of active-duty or National Guard troops for federal law enforcement in cases when “rebellion against the authority of the U.S. makes it impracticable to enforce the laws of the U.S. by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings,” according to U.S. Northern Command.

The text of the Act reads:
“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in all cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws, either of the United States, or of any individual state or territory, where it is lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection, or of causing the laws to be duly executed, it shall be lawful for him to employ, for the same purposes, such part of the land or naval force of the United States, as shall be judged necessary, having first observed all the pre-requisites of the law in that respect.”

But activating the National Guard even under federal Title 32 status, in which the federal government helps pay for Guard troops under state control, does not fall under the Insurrection Act, nor does it equate to martial law in ordinary circumstances.

“Governors call the National Guard all the time to respond to a storms or power outages, delivering medical supplies, stuff going on even during COVID,” Banks said. “That’s not extraordinary, nor would it be if the President federalized the National Guard for similar reasons, responding to a need to disseminate vaccines next winter, for example, would be perfectly appropriate, lawful, not martial law.”

What do you think?

NATIONAL POLL: Should President Trump Use The Insurrection Act and Declare Martial Law Right Now?

I actually think it might go something more like this:


1\ As we’ve been watching the hearings on election fraud in these contested states, I keep thinking about the phrase “The military is the only way.”

There are several related drops, but D36 stands out to me. Everything is so corrupt, there is no other way than the military. Image

2\ If the military is the only way, tho, why bother with lawsuits and fights with the MSM? Why not just invoke the Insurrection Act and take down these traitors?

Because the people won’t accept it. They must first see it for themselves.

3\ Before Nov 3rd, most people still believed the elections were mostly fair and honest. Minor attempts at fraud existed, sure, but nothing like widespread national vote rigging.

That fairytale has since been thoroughly and completely shattered these last several weeks.

4\ This mass blackpilling of people concerning our elections reminds me of another drop we saw a lot of during the riots and violence just a couple short months ago: D4461.

Did you think “you must show them” was only about the riots? Image

5\ We all had to be shown just how thoroughly corrupt our elections had become and just how deep that corruption had spread.

We all know there is corruption in D.C., but we also had to see the corruption at the state and local levels too. Even Republicans were in on it.

6\ Evidence was collected and lawsuits were filed, only for us to run into yet another level of corruption: the courts.

Anons already know the level of corruption in these courts with activist judges running cover for the [DS]. But most others still needed to see it.

7\ We’ve seen flagrantly asinine rulings from these judges, and obviously biased refusals to even consider the evidence in some cases.

Here and there a normal judge appears, but they are almost always overruled by corrupted higher courts.

8\ All along this time, we’ve also been witnessing yet another level of corruption in the mainstream media (MSM). The full on suppression and refusal to cover any of these lawsuits fairly and accurately to keep the info from the people is criminal.

Even Fox News has thrown in.

9\ And joining their more traditional MSM brethren, are the Big Tech tyrants, who happily label anything speaking honestly and factually as ‘disputed’.

They’re also quite happy in outright suspending or banning accounts that get a little too close to the truth.

10\ In an effort to combat these corrupt and fraudulent acts, we reach out to our corrupted DOJ and FBI for assistance in restraining these bad actors, and are responded to with silence.

It’s as if these agencies are also in on the fraud and do not want to get involved.

11\ Every step of the way, we are met with fierce opposition and resistance. Integrity has no bearing and truth does not matter.

We are like Sisyphus, forever pushing the same infinitely heavy boulder up the same insurmountable hill.

12\ We hold hearings with republican reps and senators from state legislatures presenting the evidence we’ve collected of widespread fraud.

Afterward, they’re fully engaged, but there’s only so many of them and the remaining legislature doesn’t want the fight.

13\ Unfortunately, the state legislatures will most likely fail at their attempts to reclaim the electoral power. But this is known and expected.

Why pursue it then, along with these hearings?

Because WTP and these legislatures need to know the truth being kept from them.

14\ The Trump legal team, along with Sidney Powell and the white hats all know that these legal issues will end up in front of SCOTUS. They are using this time now in the lower courts to build their cases and spread the information (as much of it as they can) far and wide.

15\ The MAGA legal team needs to have the people and the state legislatures on board when the real hammer drops after SCOTUS rules in favor of Trump.

Do you think Soros, et al. and the [DS] will simply accept a SCOTUS ruling that awards Trump his rightfully earned second term?

16\ The [DS] and the Soros bunch, along with the MSM, will cry bloody murder when the SCOTUS ruling drops. They will not accept it.

They will blame ACB and refuse to concede. The riots will start again. The fires, the looting, the violence. The WH will be surrounded.

17\ The [DS] will have their ghoulish black bloc brigades thoroughly convinced the election was stolen by Trump and that they need to remove him by force.

Tensions will rise until the hoards overrun the WH grounds and attempt to remove the POTUS, who will be absent.

18\ It is around this time we will get the message via Twitter: “My fellow Americans, the Storm is upon us.” and the Insurrection Act will be finally invoked.

The military and federalized NG will restore order to the streets, and will conduct all investigations into the fraud.

19\ What evidence do you think they’ll use to conduct these investigations? Possibly all the evidence being collected now and being displayed for all to see in these hearings? Would they add more of their own evidence?

Treason will be declared and perp walks will begin.

20\ If you don’t think POTUS has these authorities under the Insurrection Act, I’d refer you to D11, where the authority is directly implied. Image

21\ So we’re just waiting on the SCOTUS rulings and the invocation of the Insurrection Act. That’s what all this is leading up to.

POTUS and white hats had to show the people the truth and that all options to correct the fraud had been expended before invoking the Act, however.

22\ So what does this mean for we Patriots right now? Do we sit back and do nothing? No. We stand and we fight! We continue protesting and shouting and calling our reps to support each other. We share the truth of the evidence far and wide. We push back against the MSM narrative.

23\ We must let our supportive reps know that we stand with them, and we must let other Patriots know they are not alone.

Do not hang your head when the “losses” come for we knew they would. They must to prove the necessity of the actions to be taken later.

24\ Stand tall, Patriot, knowing your voice will be heard.

Stand tall, Patriot, knowing the truth will be shown.

Stand tall, Patriot, knowing the corruption is nearing its end.

This is not another 4-year election.

No war. No civil unrest. Clean and swift.

God wins.

You can read the full thread here.

And if you’re more of a visual learner, you can listen to my friend Daniel break it all down here:

Before you go, please vote in my poll now that you know what it means!

Vote here….👇

NATIONAL POLL: Should President Trump Use The Insurrection Act and Declare Martial Law Right Now?

Here are some more historic examples of Martial Law in the USA, from the Brennan Center:

General Andrew Jackson declares martial law before the Battle of New Orleans, 1814.

Covered Area: New Orleans, Lousiana
State or Federal: Federal
Duration: December 12, 1814 – March 13, 1815 (3 months)

Precipitating Event: Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812

Declaring Authority: Gen. Andrew Jackson
Terminating Authority: Gen. Andrew Jackson

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Habeas and contempt proceedings in the federal district court in New Orleans

Notes: This was the first declaration of martial law in U.S. history.

President Franklin Roosevelt approves the declaration of martial law in Hawaii after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941.

Covered Area: Hawaii Territory
State or Federal: Federal
Duration: December 7, 1941 – October 24, 1944 (2 years, 10 months, 17 days)

Precipitating Event: Attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II

Declaring Authority: Gov. J. B. Poindexter and Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short (declaration approved by Pres. Franklin Roosevelt)
Terminating Authority: Pres. Franklin Roosevelt

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: Proclamation No. 2627 (1944)
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Duncan v. Kahanamoku, 327 U.S. 304 (1946); Ex parte Zimmerman, 132 F.2d 442 (9th Cir. 1942), cert. denied “on the ground that the cause is moot,” 319 U.S. 744 (1943); Ex parte Spurlock, 66 F. Supp. 997 (D. Haw. 1944), rev’dSteer v. Spurlock, 146 F.2d 652 (9th Cir. 1944), cert. denied “on the ground that the cause is moot,” 324 U.S. 863 (1945); Ochikubo v. Bonesteel, 60 F. Supp. 916 (S.D. Cal. 1945); Kam Koon Wan v. E.E. Black, Ltd., 75 F. Supp. 553 (D. Haw. 1948)

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Domestic War or Insurrection

Rhode Island General Assembly declares martial law during the Dorr War, 1842.

Covered Area: Rhode Island
State or Federal: State
Duration: June 25, 1842 – May 1843 (11 months)

Precipitating Event: Dorr War

Declaring Authority: Rhode Island General Assembly (Charter government)
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Notes: This was the first time that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a declaration of martial law. The state of martial law appears to have been terminated by operation of law when Rhode Island adopted a new constitution in May 1843.

Gov. Brigham Young declares martial law during the Utah War, 1857.

Covered Area: Utah Territory
State or Federal: See notes
Duration: September 15, 1857 – June 12, 1858 (9 months)

Precipitating Event: Utah War

Declaring Authority: Gov. Brigham Young
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Notes: Although Governor Young declared martial law under color of his authority as the territorial governor, he did so in order to facilitate armed resistance to approaching federal troops. Hostilities in Utah ended on June 12, 1858, when Young accepted President James Buchanan’s pardon and was removed from power. It does not appear that a formal proclamation ending martial law was ever promulgated.

Gen. John C. Fremont declares martial law in Missouri in response to the Camp Jackson Affair and a Confederate insurgency, 1861.

Covered Area: Missouri
State or Federal: Federal
Duration: August 30, 1861 (August 14, 1861 in St. Louis only) – March 17, 1865 (4 years)

Precipitating Event: Camp Jackson Affair and ongoing Confederate insurgency during the U.S. Civil War

Declaring Authority: Gen. John C. Fremont
Terminating Authority: Gen. John Pope

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: Clark v. Dick, 5 F. Cas. 865 (C.C.D. Mo. 1870)

Notes: U.S. Army Gen. John C. Fremont declared martial law in St. Louis on August 14, 1861, and then throughout Missouri on August 30. Fremont was soon relieved of command for insubordination. His successor, Gen. Henry W. Halleck, believed that Fremont had lacked the authority to declare martial law, and he refused to enforce it until he received written authorization to do so from President Abraham Lincoln in December 1861.

Pres. Abraham Lincoln declares martial law during the U.S. Civil War, 1862.

Covered Area: United States
State or Federal: Federal
Duration: September 24, 1862 – August 20, 1866 (4 years)

Precipitating Event: U.S. Civil War

Declaring Authority: Pres. Abraham Lincoln
Terminating Authority: Pres. Andrew Johnson

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: Proclamation 94 (1862); Proclamation 157 (1866)
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866); Ex parte Benedict, 3 F. Cas. 159 (N.D.N.Y. 1862); Ex parte Field, 9 F. Cas. 1 (C.C.D. Vt. 1862); Ex parte Vallandingham, 28 F. Cas. 874 (C.C.S.D. Ohio 1863)

Notes: Rather than declaring martial law over a particular area, Proclamation 94 applied martial law to “all rebels and insurgents, their aiders and abettors, within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia draft or guilty of any disloyal practice affording aid and comfort to rebels against the authority of the United States.”

Pres. Abraham Lincoln declares martial law in Kentucky during the U.S. Civil War, 1864.

Covered Area: Kentucky
State or Federal: Federal
Duration: July 5, 1864 – October 12, 1865 (1 year, 3 months)

Precipitating Event: U.S. Civil War

Declaring Authority: Pres. Abraham Lincoln
Terminating Authority: Pres. Andrew Johnson

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: Proclamation 113 (1864); Proclamation 146 (1865)
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

North Carolina Gov. William Holden declares martial law during the Kirk-Holden War, 1870.

Covered Area: Caswell and Alamance counties, North Carolina
State or Federal: State
Duration: July 8, 1870 – November 10, 1870 (4 months)

Precipitating Event: Kirk-Holden War

Declaring Authority: Gov. William Holden
Terminating Authority: Gov. William Holden

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Texas Gov. Lawrence Sullivan Ross declares martial law during the Jaybird-Woodpecker War, 1889.

Covered Area: Fort Bend County, Texas
State or Federal: State
Duration: August 16, 1889 – Unclear (“Several days”)

Precipitating Event: Jaybird-Woodpecker War

Declaring Authority: Gov. Lawrence Sullivan Ross
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

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Riot or Civil Unrest

Gen. Absalom Baird declares martial law in response to the New Orleans massacre of 1866.

Covered Area: New Orleans, Louisiana
State or Federal: Federal
Duration: July 30, 1866 – Unclear (See notes)

Precipitating Event: New Orleans massacre of 1866

Declaring Authority: See notes
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Notes: Gen. Absalom Baird initially declared martial law on July 30, 1866. President Andrew Johnson publicly disapproved of but did not overrule this decision. On August 3, the decision to impose martial law was ratified and extended by Gen. Ulysses Grant on the recommendation of Gen. Philip Sheridan, after the latter arrived in the city and determined that Baird’s actions were entirely justified under the circumstances. Martial law was later ratified and extended again by President Johnson on August 7.

It is not clear when martial law ended in New Orleans. It may have continued up until 1867, when Radical Reconstruction and congressionally administered military rule began.

Gov. Watson Squire declares martial law in Seattle in response to anti-Chinese rioting, 1886.

Covered Area: Seattle, Washington Territory
State or Federal: Federal
Duration: February 8, 1886 – February 22, 1886 (15 days)

Precipitating Event: Anti-Chinese rioting

Declaring Authority: Gov. Watson Squire
Terminating Authority: Gov. Watson Squire

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: See notes
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Notes: President Grover Cleveland issued a proclamation to disperse under the Insurrection Act on February 9. See Proclamation 275 (1886). As a result, some writers have incorrectly concluded that it was Cleveland who declared martial law.


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