The Fate of Liberty - Study Guide Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Mark E. Neely, Jr.
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How dark the blot of military arrests of civilians is on the Lincoln administration depends largely on their quantity. Scholarship having failed to determine this satisfactorily, Chapter 6, "Numbers and Definitions," examines why. The American Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1865 sets the number of citizens denied habeas corpus at 38,000 (June 1861-Jan. 1, 1866). Data from Illinois, cleaner than in most states, suggest too few "persons arrested (not deserters)" to extrapolate to 38,000 nationwide. The Cyclopaedia article relies on statistically flawed "morning reports" and other fragmentary sources. John A. Marshall's American Bastile, a bitterly anti-Lincoln "book of martyrs" (1869) estimates 5,000-10,000 illegal detainees, doubled in the second edition (1885). Not prone to underestimating, Marshall would have used the Cyclopaedia figure, had he known about it. Englishman James Bryce in The American Commonwealth next mentions the figure, likening Lincoln to Cromwell...

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