When the Yankees Shut Down the First Amendment

Constitutional Violation: Amendment One: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press, precious relics of former history, must not be construed too largely.” General William T. Sherman

In the original American model, freedom of speech, press, and religion were literally God-given cornerstones of liberty. Lincoln sought to squelch or eliminate freedom of speech and freedom of the press for any Northern (and Border State) citizen who criticized the war through speech or print or objected to the draft. Numerous States felt the full force of this policy.

Kentucky—Lincoln held a general paranoia about losing the State, exclaiming, “I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.” Wishing to remain neutral, the Kentucky legislature passed a resolution claiming their neutrality and disallowing troops from either side to belligerently pass through or occupy her soil. The pro-Union political element in Kentucky led her citizens into thinking they would get their wish. “The Federal Government had disregarded the neutrality of Kentucky, and Mr. Lincoln had hooted it…”

The South Was Right! James Ronald Kennedy, ... Best Price: $5.95 Buy New $5.07 (as of 11:25 EDT - Details) Legislators were elected in August, and as the results were known “it soon became evident that the Federals intended to occupy Kentucky, and to use her roads and mountains for marching invading columns upon the Confederate States.” In September 1861, Confederate General Leonidas Polk moved into Columbus, Kentucky, despite orders from Jefferson Davis to stay out. Davis wanted to respect Kentucky’s desire to remain neutral and refrain from putting political or military pressure on the State to join the Confederacy. Polk’s miscalculation led to Kentucky’s request for Union assistance. This allowed Grant an opportunity to take Paducah, and establish a Union presence in the State. In response to Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin’s request for all troops to leave his State, Polk agreed to withdraw if Federal forces withdrew simultaneously.

There was no intention of forcing the State to side with the Confederacy; strategically, a neutral Kentucky was geographically positioned to serve as a buffer zone advantageous to the South. Despite Union promises to the contrary, “it was well understood that the people of that State had been deceived into a mistaken security, were unarmed, and in danger of being subjugated by the Federal forces,….” The general sentiment was that most Kentuckians identified themselves culturally as Southern, and, given the right to choose, most would likely side with the Confederacy. Magoffin had also refused Lincoln’s request to furnish troops to coerce the seceded States. Lincoln was determined to do whatever was necessary to keep Kentucky from joining the Confederacy.

There was divided sentiment in Kentucky regarding the slavery issue and Lincoln sent mixed signals himself. Norman Hapgood, Illinois-born writer, editor, and journalist quoted Lincoln from a September 22, 1862, confidential letter sent to Illinois Republican Senator Orville H. Browning referencing one reason he denied the enactment of Fremont’s proclamation. “The Kentucky Legislature would not budge—would be turned against us. I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we cannot hold Missouri, nor, I think, Maryland.” The letter referenced Lincoln’s veto of Union Major General John Fremont’s August 30, 1861, order to free the slaves in Missouri. Also, on May 9, 1862, Union Major General David Hunter issued an emancipation order, declaring, “‘slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible’ and all former slaves in his command, the Department of the South, ‘are therefore declared forever free.’” As with Fremont’s declaration, Lincoln quickly vetoed it.

George D. Prentice, a pro-Union, anti-abolitionist, edited the pro-Republican Louisville Journal. While Prentice had no reason to fear suppression or closure, the Louisville Courier did. The Courier’s editor, Walter N. Haldeman, was a strong supporter of the Confederacy. When Kentucky’s neutrality ended, the Courier was suppressed and later published in Bowling Green as long as a Confederate presence remained. “Less outspoken than Haldeman, John H. Harney, editor of the Louisville Democrat, became the voice of the Peace Democrats; he grew increasingly critical of Lincoln and his policies…; the Kentucky Yeoman, which had supported secession, modified its views sufficiently that it avoided suppression. A number of small newspapers were victims of wartime shortages and high prices or were suppressed by the army.”

With abundant pro-South and anti-war sentiment in the State, Union forces in Kentucky were leery of incidents such as John Hunt Morgan’s raids early in the war. Kentucky-born Brigadier General J.T. Boyle referenced this fear in a July 19, 1862, letter to Secretary Stanton. Boyle feared Morgan’s meager force of perhaps 3500 men would overrun the State. In another correspondence from Boyle to Stanton, he stated that Morgan’s forces had a maximum of 1200 men and “There are bands of guerillas in Henderson, Davis, and Webster counties.” Alluding to Anti-war/Pro-Southern sentiment within Indiana, Illinois, and other Northern States, Ohio Governor John Brough wrote Secretary Stanton on June 9, 1864, expressing his belief that Kentucky would have to be treated like Maryland to keep them in line. On July 5, 1864, referencing his September 15, 1863, proclamation, Lincoln declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Kentucky.

A footnote of history involving Kentucky was General Order No. 11, issued by U.S. Grant on December 17, 1862. This order called for all Jews to be expelled from his district, i.e., Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. This blatantly bigoted order, based on the allegation that Jews spearheaded an unprincipled black market trade was short-lived and has been generally ignored by historians. Years later, as a candidate for president, Grant said he did not read the order before he signed it and placed the blame on a subordinate. Everything You Were Ta... Lochlainn Seabrook Best Price: $9.85 Buy New $12.39 (as of 08:25 EDT - Details)

Indiana—Indiana was subject to shutdowns of the press. Having few large newspapers in the State, the closures were of smaller, more local Democratic papers. The high point of this activity was in the spring of 1863. Union Brigadier General Milo Hascall, a native New Yorker, had lived in Goshen, Indiana since 1847. On April 25, 1863, Hascall issued Order No. 9, as his version of Burnside’s Order No. 38. Both orders were spurred by the intense anti-war sentiment in the North. Hascall claimed, “The country will have to be saved or lost during the time this administration remains in power, and therefore he who is factiously and actively opposed to the war policy of the Administration, is as much opposed to his Government.” Hascall echoed the familiar mantra often associated with centralizers that you are either with us or against us, leaving no room for middle ground. “The first editor arrested was Daniel E. Van Valkenburgh of the Plymouth Weekly Democrat.” VanValkenburgh had ridiculed Order No. 9 as well as its author and was arrested on May 4, 1863.

There were other arrests of Democratic newspaper editors. “Rufus Magee, editor of the Pulaski Democrat in Winamac, was arrested and his newspaper suspended for two weeks…The Columbia City News was shut down and its editor, Englebert Zimmerman, was ordered to Indianapolis to answer for his offense.” Given the option of retracting its condemnation of Order No. 9 or closing its publication, W.H. and Ariel Draper, editors of the Democratic South Bend Forum, decided to shut it down. Other Democratic publications that were threatened by Hascall “included the Starke County Press, the Bluffton Banner, the Blackford Democrat, the Warsaw Union, and the Franklin Weekly Democratic Herald.”

General sentiment in Indiana was unfavorable toward the abolitionists, realizing that radical elements existed within the movement. Apparently, many Indianans wanted to distance themselves from the slavery issue altogether. A new constitution had been submitted to the people of Indiana in 1851. This constitution forbade Blacks from coming to the State and it levied punishment on anyone who employed them. A popular majority of almost 90,000 ratified it. Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton, a Radical Republican, and a steady opponent of the abolitionists, supported this new State constitution. Harrison H. Dodd provided another perspective. Dodd, born in New York, later moved to Ohio and finally Indiana, where he served as the Grand Commander of the Sons of Liberty. He commented that “‘the real cause of the war was the breach of faith by the North in not adhering to the original compact of the States…that ‘in twenty-three States we had governments assisting the tyrants at Washington to carry on a military despotism.’”

From the Lincoln Administration’s standpoint, Indiana had too many army desertions and too many of its citizens favoring peace with the South. There was armed resistance in Rush County, and the Union Army “sent one hundred infantry by special train to arrest deserters and ringleaders. Southern Indiana is ripe for revolution.” Meetings were held on the local and county level in many parts of the State; the results of some of these meetings “…declared the war cruel and unnecessary, denounced President Lincoln as a tyrant and usurper…”

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