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Order from President Abraham Lincoln to General Winfield Scott suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus, April 27, 1861

After the attack on Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln called for support from state militias. Confederate sympathizers in Maryland ambushed some of the northern troops en route to Washington. Lincoln declared martial law in the region and authorized General Winfield Scott, General-in-Chief of the Army, to suspend the writ of habeas corpus if necessary to control rebellion.

Records of the Adjutant General's Office, National Archives and Records Administration

Order from President Abraham Lincoln to General Winfield Scott suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus, April 27, 1861 Order from President Abraham Lincoln to General Winfield Scott suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus, April 27, 1861

Response to Rebellion - 2

A writ of habeas corpus is a legal order enabling an individual to seek release from unlawful detention. The Constitution allows Congress to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for public safety in times of rebellion or invasion. Congress was not in session when Confederate forces initiated the Civil War in April 1861 by attacking U.S. troops stationed at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Acting quickly against the insurrection, President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus. He later asked Congress to approve his controversial action.