“Miscellaneous Americana for the New Year”

A new, brief and most interesting post from Seth Barrett Tillman:

[Wilkes] was expelled from the Commons in 1764, and also expelled 3 times in 1769. After the last expulsion in 1769, he ran for election yet again, and although he had more votes than his opponent, the Commons seated his opponent. He was elected again in 1774 and took his seat. Arguably, Wilkes’ taking his seat in 1774 established the principle that each member of the House of Commons is chosen by the voters, and that the voters’ choice cannot be second-guessed, rejected, or overturned merely because a majority of the House finds a particular member’s political principles and morals objectionable.

Read the whole thing, as the bloggers say.

2 thoughts on ““Miscellaneous Americana for the New Year””

  1. General George Cadwalader (also spelled Cadwallader) [1806-1879] served in the US Army during the Mexican War and during the (American) Civil War. He was in overall command of Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, in 1861. As a result, Cadwalader was the named defendant in Ex parte Merryman (1861), which tested the legality of Lincoln’s order to suspend habeas corpus.

    Maryland was a hotbed of trouble in the Civil War. The Mason Dixon Line, that famous demarcation between the North and the South, is the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Mason and Dixon were the surveyors. When driving down the East Coast, when you cross from Pennsylvania or Delaware into Maryland, you’ve crossed into the South. Washington DC, the Union capitol, was behind enemy lines and virtually surrounded.

    Marylanders were split between Secessionists and Unionists. There were riots in Baltimore in 1861 when Pennsylvania and Massachusetts troops tried to move through on their way to occupy Fort McHenry in Baltimore and on southward to defend DC. The worst of the rioting was near the harbor where the Massachusetts troops were barricaded inside Camden Station, from which they finally escaped by train to DC. (Camden Station was almost torn down when the Inner Harbor was renovated, but was restored instead.) Meanwhile, Washington DC was rife with rumours that Robert E Lee was preparing to invade and occupy the capitol. So you can just image the atmosphere of imminent danger and possible chaos that was sweeping the region.

    To make matters worse, after the riots Maryland Governor Thomas Hicks, a secessionist sympathizer, authorized the destruction of railroad bridges connecting Baltimore to Northern states, ostensibly to prevent future riots, but clearly in order to cut lines of supply and communication. Politicians lied then just as they do today. John Merryman, a wealthy planter and miller in Baltimore County, north of Baltimore, and through which the strategic railways ran, was asked by the governor to sabotage the railroad bridges in the area, which he did, killing a union soldier in the process. He was arrested by federal troops and taken to Fort McHenry and put under jurisdiction of General Cadwalader. Mr Merryman applied for a writ of habeas corpus which was granted, and judge Taney’s opinion – that the president had no authority as the USA was not at war – was reprinted in papers all over the country.

    Congress finally acted, and specifically granted Lincoln power to suspend. Merryman, along with many others during the war, was charged with treason for waging war on the United States. None of the cases were ever prosecuted.

    As a side note, federal troops eventually occupied a prominent hill overlooking Baltimore harbor. There are cannons still mounted there pointed directly at the city. Since then, the location has been known as Federal Hill.

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