Monday, July 30, 2007

Update on Gettysburg

I was listening to a documentary on Mothercorp the other day about the assassination of Lincoln and it reminded me of my post about Gettysburg earlier this month.

I learned something I didn't know. Here it is: Washington DC is surrounded on three sides by Maryland, which is south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and on the fourth side by Virginia which joined the Confederacy. If Maryland had joined the Confederacy too, it would have meant that the capital of the United States was entirely surrounded by the enemy. And Maryland was by no means undivided in its support of the Union. So what did Lincoln do? He declared martial law in Maryland. To prevent the possibility of secession. There is still controversy over this, I think.

As a matter of fact, Lincoln carried out several radical actions within months of his inauguration. Indeed, the beginning of his term coincided with the dissolution of the Union and the start of the Civil War.

Here's a partial timeline:
November 6, 1860: · Lincoln elected 16th President of the United States
December 20, 1860: · South Carolina becomes first state to secede from the Union
February 9, 1861: · Confederate States of America formed in Montgomery, Alabama
March 4, 1861: · Lincoln inaugurated in Washington, delivers First Inaugural Address
March 29, 1861: · Orders reinforcements sent to Fort Sumter
April 12, 1861: · Confederate forces open fire on Fort Sumter, beginning Civil War
April 17, 1861: · Virginia secedes from the Union
April 18, 1861: · Lincoln invites Robert E. Lee to head Union armies; Lee declines and resigns post (Now here's an indication of how volatile things were. Lincoln asks Lee to head the Union forces...Lee who is about to become the most famous Confederate General!)
April 27, 1861: · Suspends writ of habeas corpus (!!! Oh, those Republicans, eh?)
May 10, 1861: · Declares martial law in Maryland

There was a great deal of outrage in Maryland over this action which many considered unconstitutional. Don't forget that a primary cause of the Civil War was the dispute over states' rights. And John Wilkes Booth came from a well-established (although not solidly pro-Confederate) Maryland family.

Suspending habeas corpus? Declaring martial law? Suddenly it's less of a mystery why Booth shouted the motto of the state of Virginia after he shot Lincoln: Sic semper tyrannis. Thus always to tyrants!

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