Secret Police and Military Prisons—Edwin Stanton Sets the Precedent—Part Two

By Al Benson Jr.

Author Nathaniel Weyl has agreed with Otto Eisenschiml’s view of what Edwin M. Stanton and company were all about. In The Battle Against Disloyalty  he wrote: “In the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, the United States War Department bore some traces of resemblance to the Soviet Secret Police. It’s leaders were zealots who believe that, if the ends didn’t justify the means, nothing else could.” To have your country’s security forces compared to the Soviet Secret Police, the infamous KGB—what a compliment! So very appropriate for the Yankee/Marxist worldview that was prevalent in Washington for the Obama—oops, pardon me, I meant the Lincoln administration

That bastion of moral integrity, Colonel Lafayette Baker, head of the National Detectives, has been described by Weyl as “…an enormously vain and unscrupulous person, Baker was also a congenital liar, intriguer, and twister.” This sounds like just about the right qualifications for an agent in the Lincoln administration. His boss, the venerable Stanton, has been pictured as “A rude, rough, vigorous Oliver Cromwell sort of man, incapable of generosity to a prostrate foe, arbitrary, bad tempered and impulsive, double-faced, tyrannical, with an inordinate desire for office.” Makes you wonder if those were his good points. But, again, they were sterling qualities for a Lincoln administration member. In mentioning the Lincoln assassins, (at least the ones we’ve been told about), Weyl observed that their trial “served as an opening move in deeply calculated positional play for something akin to a military dictatorship.” Something else our “history” books never bother to deal with. William Tecumseh Sherman would have loved it!

In regard to the conspirators Weyl has told us that Eisenschiml pointed out that the government used torture on them, not to obtain confessions, but rather to keep them quiet. The conclusion Eisenschiml drew from that was that “…War Secretary Stanton not only knew of the murder plans and allowed them to mature, but may have been in guilty communication with Booth…Certainly as far as the radicals were concerned, Lincoln’s political usefulness ceased the moment the war was won. His clashes with Stanton on policy matters were becoming more and more frequent. Since he had the support of the people, there was no legal means of removing him.” Weyl also noted that there were some problems with this theory, and even today, it is still argued, quite vehemently in some circles.

Stanton was more than anxious to lay the blame for the assassination upon Richmond. Yet his only two links there were Booth, who we have been told was killed (there’s another whole story involved with that), and John Surrat, who had gotten to Canada, and eventually to Europe. It was felt that those arrested for the assassination would have denied any conspiratorial connections with the Confederacy—should they have been allowed to talk freely. So Weyl stated: “It was therefore essential to the grand political design that they be silenced—by torture if necessary. To prove the great conspiracy, Stanton relied on his crony, Judge Advocate General Holt, and on his creature, General Lafayette Baker. The latter bustled off to Canada where he collected the most preposterous herd of witnesses ever for a political trial…Meanwhile Judge Holt ran a school for perjury in Washington.”

No way was Stanton going to do this on the up and up—so he did it down and dirty. So much for “justice” in Amerika in 1865. Is it any better now? Had he been alive back then, Eric Holder would have been Stanton’s kissin’ cousin. Their minds wallowed in the same convoluted legal chicanery. Stanton would have loved “fast and furious” too!

Even establishment historians have had to admit that there was a torture policy in Yankeedom (though Lincoln’s administration officially denied it and hid behind the Lieber Code). In mentioning torture, Mark Neely Jr., in The Fate of Liberty–Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties  has told us that the likeliest torture victims were not even Southerners, rather, “They were Northerners suspected of deserting from the United States Army.” Neely also noted that military authorities often arrested some suspects who turned out not to be deserters, but were, in fact, innocent of anything. He noted six men who were arrested as Union Army deserters in 1864 who, were in fact, innocent because they were British subjects. And he said: “In 1864 the complaints of these prisoners to British authorities in the United States began to include descriptions of torture.” When even establishment historians have to fess up to the fact that torture was employed by the Yankees, you have to realize it was probably a lot worse than they have told you it was. They are showing you the merest tip of the iceberg and fervently hoping you don’t check to see how big the whole thing really is.

In updating what is essentially the identical situation, columnist Charlie Reese said, several years ago: “Who could have guessed that George W. Bush, who seemed to be a genial good old boy, would turn out to be a tyrant, launching wars of aggression, arresting and confining people without charges or access to a lawyer, condoning torture and lying to the American people? A government that can without trial destroy you by simply putting your name on a list, or the name of an organization with which you are associated, is a tyranny.” How different is this from what Stanton did in 1865? As with Lincoln, so with Bush, Cheney, and Obama—after all, they all work for the same people. Truly there is nothing new under the sun.

Making these comparisons would, hopefully, make some people begin to sit up and wonder what the deal is. Unfortunately, it probably won’t. Too many generations of public school indoctrination have finally paid off with Orwell’s 1984. We have become a nation of proles.

Secret Police and Military Prisons—Edwin Stanton Sets the Precedent

By Al Benson Jr.

About five years ago now there was a big flap over Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi prison where American soldiers practiced various forms of torture, both emotional and physical, on various Iraqi prisoners. It was all a part of George Bush’s “experiment” in “democracy” in Iraq. Some people were shocked when they read about this. They wondered how Americans could do such things—after all, aren’t we the moral leadership of the world? Sorry to say we are not. With what we have elected to the presidency for the last four or five terms, how can we claim any kind of moral leadership anywhere? You’d be surprised, but I have had Christians to defend torturing terrorists to me. They seem to feel that because they are terrorists, or have been accused of being terrorists, that to torture them is okay. My response to this is that, as Christians, if we engage in this sort of thing then we are no better than they are. I have a hard time believing that the Lord Jesus would endorse torture.

But is the concept of torture, secret police and military prisons something new in our day and age in America? Again, sorry to say it isn’t. Americans have been partaking of torture and the secret police syndrome, in one form or another at least since the advent of the Lincoln administration. Mr. Lincoln and his associated seem to have had a paranoid fear of disloyalty to the federal government (most dictators have this) to the point where thousands upon thousands of Northern civilians were arrested and hauled off to prisons on the basis of nothing more than vague suspicion or some grumpy neighbor’s hearsay accusation.

In his book In The Shadow Of Lincoln’s Death Otto Eisenschiml noted: “In his vast arsenal of power Stanton had one weapon which was formidable beyond any other: the military prisons. Within their silent walls he could bury his enemies with no fear of consequences.” Given today’s political climate, does that sound familiar? I’m sure those FEMA camps are not being built for foreign dignitaries.

After the writ of habeas corpus had been suspended, which was a writ guaranteeing a judicial hearing to anyone arrested, according to Eisenschiml: “…those whom the military chose to arrest could be held without recourse to the courts and even without charges being preferred against them.”

Military prisoners were almost never allowed to see a lawyer to seek legal counsel. Their whereabouts was usually not even known to their families or friends and many were informed that should they attempt to seek legal counsel, such an action would go against them. In other words, defending yourself legally was out of the question. Such efforts would, according to Eisenschiml, result in “quick reprisals.” Now many will, no doubt, be tempted to think that Edwin Stanton did all this on his own—a rogue government employee. However, Eisenschiml has observed that “On September 24, 1862, Lincoln issued a proclamation giving Stanton’s promiscuous incarcerations his full backing.” So Lincoln didn’t even try, much like the head of our current Marxist regime does, to claim he had no knowledge of what was going on. That seems to be the increasing cop-out with our current Chief Commissar—all these rogue employees running around doing their thing and he knows nothing about any of it. With as little knowledge about the happenings in his administration as he seems to have you almost have to wonder why he should be president.

And Stanton, in order to solidify his control, organized a Secret Police system. Yes, folks, you read that right—secret police during the Lincoln administration. While it started out small, it grew rather quickly, as do all totalitarian schemes and eventually it morphed into something called the “National Detectives” which came under the control of one Colonel Lafayette C. Baker, another rather unsavory character. This force eventually grew to number about 2,000, and when Baker was appointed Provost Marshal of the War Department, this gave him almost unlimited and uncontrolled power. “Secret Police” in America in the 1860s! When was the last time you read about this in your “history” books? I read lots of history in my younger years and I never came across this. It almost sounds like a scenario out of some old Cold War movie about the Soviet Union. Unfortunately it isn’t. It was real and it happened right here in the United States of Amerika! And it set a precedent for what our present regime is doing in regard to our civil liberties, or rather the lack of them. If you are wondering why your “history” books never bother to mention any of this, you should (wonder). And if this slight omission leads you to do a little research to find out what other “slight omissions” have occurred in our “history’ books, so much the better.

Forty-eighter socialist Carl Schurz, one of the leading lights dealt with in our book Lincoln’s Marxists (Pelican Publishing, Gretna, Louisiana) even felt called upon to apologize for the Lincoln administration’s usurpations against U.S. citizens’ God-given rights when he wrote: “The government was under the stress of circumstances, doing things highly obnoxious to the fundamental principles of constitutional liberty. It incarcerated without warrant or due process of law, men suspected of aiding the rebellion…On the plea of urgent necessity…it adopted methods…familiar to despotic rule…” Leave it to a socialist to apologize for Lincoln’s high-handed treatment of American citizens. The leftists will always apologize for government usurpations, claiming that, due to the current situation they are “necessary.” Bovine fertilizer!

Probably one of the most infamous prisons in the federal system at that time was Old Capital prison in Washington. In 1869 a Washington resident wrote that: “Stanton was an able and true man, and a good Secretary, but he was a despot also, and too hasty to arrest men upon every slight proof; …Ex-Chief Detective Baker sent, perhaps, the majority of prisoners to this institution. He had reduced blackmailing and intimidation to a science, and those who would not comply with his unlawful demands were moderately sure of a residence in this place. These arbitrary acts are a blight upon the country…” A condemnation of the activities of Baker and Stanton, even if a moderate one.

As we go along and learn more it becomes more and more clear that the true Yankee/Marxist mindset is one with a totalitarian, collectivist worldview, where the central government is supreme in all things and all citizens are merely “cogs in the wheel” of the Yankee/Marxist empire—to be used until they wear out, and then tossed away and replaced with more government-educated cogs. Needless to say, when Northerners, mostly Democrats, protested Stanton’s dictatorial actions, Mr. Lincoln, also with a dictatorial mindset, took pains to defend those actions.

To be continued.

(The Homeschool Mini-History Series is still available. History may be written by the victors but the truth does not change.)