Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Martial Law!

If you’re looking for an actual definition; Martial Law essentially means using a state, or worse, a nation’s military force, to impose the will of the government on the people.

Under a declaration of Martial Law, Constitutional freedoms and liberties will be put on ice or suspended and civilians will no longer be entitled to their civil rights. Basically the government (or an authoritarian politician), will shred the Constitution and impose its will via military force.

Say such a calamity could never happen in the USA? Wrong! It already has; and more than once:

On September 15, 1863, Republican President Abraham Lincoln imposed Congressional-authorized martial law—nearly 3 years after the state of South Carolina seceded or withdrew from the Union on December 20th 1860. Although sitting President James Buchanan declared secession unconstitutional, he did little else; Lincoln wasn’t inaugurated until March 4, 1861 . . . as you can probably imagine the nation really was very near the Eve of Destruction . . . more than a hundred years before Barry McGuire thought so—is there such a thing as post-premonition?  

Nearly a year after the war’s end (5-9-1865), on April 2, 1866, a proclamation by President Andrew Johnson declared the “insurrection” at end in all States except Texas; then on Aug 20, 1866, another proclamation by Johnson confirmed that civil government had officially resumed in all states that had seceded from the Union:
“I do further proclaim that the said insurrection is at an end and that peace, order, tranquility, and civil authority now exists in and throughout the whole of the United States of America.”   Therefore, Lincoln’s Martial Law Proclamation can definitely be said to be “no longer in effect”.

History says Lincolns’ was the right move; what will history say of similar actions in the future?  Yes, such a catastrophe, some argue, is imminent even in today’s (2017) world!

Armored vehicles with high power weapons, drones, tanks, and battlefield helicopters are no longer things you only see on some 3rd world theater; it’s now standard operating procedure for police stations throughout America.   The US federal government has poured Billions of Dollars into militarizing and taking over our country’s local police forces, in what can now only be described as a standing army meant to enforce federal laws.

Martial Law generally accompanies curfews; the suspension of civil law, civil rights, and habeas corpus; and the submission of military law or military justice to civilians. For those civilians among us who dare defy Martial Law — expect being subjected to military tribunal or court-martial.

Throughout US history there are several examples of the imposition of Martial Law, aside from that during the Civil War, and it has seldom been pretty.

When future President Abe Lincoln was only a toddler, during the War of 1812; US General Andrew Jackson imposed martial law in New Orleans, Louisiana before repulsing the British in the Battle of New Orleans.   Martial law was also imposed in a four-mile radius around the city.

When word came of the wars end, Jackson kept martial law in tact, with a wink and a nod; he argued that he had not received “official” word of the peace. Shortly thereafter, a local judge demanded habeas corpus for a man arrested for “rabble-rousing”. Rather than comply with the court’s order to release the “offending” individual, Jackson had the judge arrested . . . 

Yeah, he was a “war hero” in the eyes of many Americans but as you probably know a habeas corpus petition allows persons who are unlawfully imprisoned to gain freedom through Civil Court proceedings . . . a right that can only be suspended by the US Congress—not a General or even a US President.  You’d think Jackson’s brash behavior would have resulted in completely “foiling” his political future; obviously not, as he would become the 7th US President a mere 17 years later.

During the events of the West Virginia Coal Wars (1920–1921), martial law was declared in
the state of West Virginia. 

At the request of WV Governor John Jacob Cornwell, federal troops had already been dispatched to Mingo County to deal with the striking coal miners. 

The army officer in charge acted, theoretically, under the “Suspension Clause of Article I of the United States Constitution” . . . accounts show that he only jailed coal miners, and did not allow assembly of any kind.  Jails filled up quickly because his soldiers somehow encountered only striking union miners, who were immediately imprisoned. Truth be told, striking miners were arrested and jailed, without any sort of trial.

At the onset of US involvement in World War II (1939 to 1945), the US Territory what is now the State of Hawaii was held under Martial Law from December 7, 1941 to October 24, 1944, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.    

Hawaiian Governor Poindexter reluctantly relinquished power to the military — temporarily, or so he thought, by declaring Martial Law . . . The commanding general of the Hawaiian military, Lt. Gen. Walter Campbell Short — the newly declared “Military Governor” of the islands, assumed complete control. All civil law courts were closed by his order and the military was authorized to arrest, try, and convict persons for damn near anything. In other words, under Poindexter’s Martial Law Order, the military courts were given the power to decide cases without following the rules of evidence of civil court law, and were not limited by sentencing laws in determining penalties for such “activities”.

You see, this harsh action was justified because many Hawaiians were, and are, of Japanese descent, and the loyalty of such people was called into question.  It wasn’t until after the war, the federal judge for the islands condemned the conduct of martial law by saying in part, “Gov. Poindexter declared lawfully martial law but the Army went beyond the governor and set up that which was lawful only in conquered enemy territory namely, military government which is not bound by the Constitution. And they . . . threw the Constitution into the discard and set up a military dictatorship.”

The idea behind Martial law may be termed as being honorable, as it’s usually an attempt to restore and maintain peace during civil unrest; needless to say “it does not always yield the desired results”. For example in May of 1970,  Ohio governor James Rhodes declared limited Martial Law by sending in National Guard troops to “contain” a Kent State University protest against the Vietnam War. As you know, four protesters were shot and killed by the troops.

Historically, in the United States, Martial Law has been instituted on the national level only once, during the Civil War, and with good reason by most historical accounts; the same holds true on a regional basis—Hawaii, during WW II.   Otherwise, to date, it has been limited to one or more states or limited areas within individual states.   Invasion by a Foreign Power, Natural Disasters, Labor Strikes, Political Protests, Riots, and Uprisings are among legitimate best reasons for declaring some measure of Martial Law.

In-any-event, Martial Law on the national level may be legally declared by Congress or a US President. Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 15, of the US Constitution, Congress has the power “to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel Invasions.” Article II, Section 2, Clause 1, of the US Constitution declares that “the President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.”    Although neither constitutional provision includes a specific reference to Martial Law, the US Supreme Court has interpreted both to allow the declaration of Martial Law by the President or Congress.

Let’s face it; the United States, and many parts of the “civilized” world, is a ticking time bomb. From far-reaching social unrest, crime, and violence to growing national debts; plus in the US at least, an entire segment of the population depends on government assistance just to exist . . . in short, the writing’s on the wall; Trouble’s at hand and his pace needs no further acceleration.

Bottom line, the up-coming US President (January, 2017), by most accounts, processes the vanity and the temperament to dare implement the second national Marshal Law effort in the USA; so here’s a simple guide to help insure your survival:

   Prepare for the civil unrest. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Know when potential threats are coming to your area. You may have no significant warning when another country invades but, you should know if a hurricane or tornado is a legitimate threat.

  Stock your home with supplies.  Before Martial Law is enacted, you may be on your own during a breakdown of normal civil authority; so be prepared to survive at least 3 days & nights without help.

   After civil authority has broken down, you can be assured other people will become opportunistic. Homes and businesses may be looted; so secure your home and business in advance. Board up windows and barricade doors. Stay in your home with your own supplies until military help arrives.


Recognize the legitimacy of Martial law. For whatever reason, Martial Law has been declared and you are one of the citizens trying to survive it. If your country has been invaded (i.e., your area is still under the protection of your country's military) or a major natural disaster has occurred you should recognize that martial law might be best for the time being. Remember, in theory at least, the soldiers are there to maintain order and keep you safe until civilian authority can be re-established.

   Show respect and courtesy to authorities, they’re not perfect human beings and mistakes will happen, it’s that simple. The best single thing you can do is assist and obey. Keep your head down and avoid drawing attention to yourself. If you really want to survive, Martial Law isn't the time for political crusading.

   No matter how odd or strange it may seem, it’s best to do as you are told. For example if a curfew is set, get to where you’re supposed to be by the set deadline. If you are given a meal time, don't think you will be served if you show up late just because you’re hungry. In other words, your normal rights are significantly limited until civil order is re-established so don't push your luck if you really want to survive.


Oh, one last thing: If you find yourself faced with Martial Law in a country that you know has it in for you, or plans to do you harm (e.g., Jewish Germans or Japanese-Americans during World War II) you may want to consider hiding from the government instead of being the model citizen.