“Let the Stain of Innocent Blood Be Removed from the Land”

Edward Steers Jr.

in The Lincoln Assassination

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780823232260
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240784 | DOI:

Series: The North's Civil War

“Let the Stain of Innocent Blood Be Removed from the Land”

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This chapter offers a stout defense of the military tribunal that convened under the supervision of General David Hunter and was prosecuted by Judge Advocate General Holt. In 1865, the District of Columbia, scene of the trial, remained under martial law. It is argued that the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus was clearly constitutional under the prevailing war conditions, and that it met the standard outlined in Article I, section 9, clause 2 of the Constitution, which states that the writ may be suspended as the “public safety may require it.” The chapter offers a valuable reminder that the Lincoln assassination prosecution focused not only on obtaining a conviction of the conspirators but also on linking Booth's small gang of hangers-on and ne'er-do-wells to the Confederate government. To Hunter and Holt, it is sometimes forgotten, it was President Jefferson Davis, as much as the conspirators themselves, who deserved to stand trial.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; assassination trial; military tribunal; General David Hunter; Judge Advocate General Holt; Booth

Chapter.  5955 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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