View single post by indy19th
 Posted: Mon Jul 24th, 2006 08:50 pm
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Shadowrebel wrote: Indy,

Care to source your idea that Lincoln wrote out an arrest warrant for Judge Taney?

After due consideration the administration determined upon the arrest of the Chief Justice. A warrant or order was issued for his arrest. Then arose the question of service. Who should make the arrest and where the imprisonment should be? This was done by the President with instructions to use his own discretion about making the arrest unless he should receive further orders from him. (source: Ward Hill Lamon who was Lincoln's bodyguard and U.S. Marshall for the District of Columbia during Lincoln's administration.  A 1880 manuscript on the Ex Parte Merryman and is in the Huntington Library.) The warrant was never served for reason Lamon never cited.

The Taney Arrest Warrant is a recent conjectural controversy in Abraham Lincoln scholarship. The standard version of the story avers that in late May or early June of 1861 President Lincoln secretly ordered an arrest warrant for Roger B. Taney, the circuit riding Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, but abandoned the proposal. The arrest order is said to have been in response to Taney's Circuit Judge ruling in Ex parte Merryman, which found Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus to be unconstitutional.

The main details of the story come from a single document written in the 1880's.

One criticism is that Lamon is an unreliable source, remembered for lending his name to a ghost-written 1872 biography of Lincoln by Chauncey Black. The biography was received unfavorably by Robert Todd Lincoln, the president's son, and was denounced for a lack of discretion. On the other hand, the habeas corpus manuscript was written in the mid 1880's around the time Lamon was working on his second book, Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, incomplete when he died (Lamon's daughter edited the completed portions of it for posthumous publication). This second book is highly regarded among Lincoln scholars and is the main source for many well-known Lincoln anecdotes and quotes. Another criticism is that no copy of the warrant or other documentation has been found to support Lamon's story. Some critics have also questioned the likelihood of placing such an important task in Lamon's hands, though Lincoln often sent Lamon on important political tasks including a famous 1865 mission to Virginia that resulted in his absence as a bodyguard on the night of Lincoln's assassination.

Doubts about Lamon's credibility are not confined to the alleged Taney warrant. In his book Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War, Maury Klein states that "Lamon's own account in his Recollections, [pp.] 69-79, is so inflated in his own favor and contradictory to Hurlbut's contemporary account to Lincoln as to be virtually useless as a source for his mission." (p. 462, ch. 19 n. 12).

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