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tax assessment by provost marshal

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by gary, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. gary

    gary Captain

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    I'm reading "I Acted From Principle" about the Civil War Diary of Dr. William McPheeters. McPheeters was a southern sympathizer in St. Louis, MO. The Provost Marshal knew of his southern symphathies and assessed him $2k which was collected by a lieutenant and four men who entered his house and removed a lot of furniture including a piano. When it was determined that the objects were insufficient, a second entry was made and virtually everything else was removed; leaving McPheeters' home bare. McPheeters then traveled by horseback to Richmond where he secured an appointment as a surgeon and returned to serve in the Trans-Mississippi area.

    So, by what means did the Provost bypass the Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful seizure? Has anybody else read of this lawful wartime thievery?

    BTW, I picked up the book from one of the battlefields I visited last week.
     

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  3. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    First confirm the diary entry before anything else.
    Is there any period news paper entries.
    Is the alleged Provost Marshal a real Provost Marshal a uniformed military officer or something else.
    Is the Diary as written or edited later.
     
  4. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    The review of book on Amazon says something different.
    Source
    At the start of the Civil War, Dr. William McPheeters was a distinguished physician in St. Louis, conducting unprecedented public-health research, forging new medical standards, and organizing the state's first professional associations. But Missouri was a volatile border state. Under martial law, Union authorities kept close watch on known Confederate sympathizers. McPheeters was followed, arrested, threatened, and finally, in 1862, given an ultimatum: sign an oath of allegiance to the Union or go to federal prison. McPheeters "acted from principle" instead, fleeing by night to Confederate territory. He served as a surgeon under Gen. Sterling Price and his Missouri forces west of the Mississippi River, treating soldiers' diseases, malnutrition, and terrible battle wounds.
    "Under martial law, Union authorities kept close watch on known Confederate sympathizers." If martial law was declared then there is no 4th amendment application. If under a confiscation act, it is totally legal. McPheeters may have characterized confiscation as a assessment,

    Need more info.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  5. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    A quick note although diaries are primary evidence, they are the thoughts, feeling, motivations and viewpoints of the writer, not an absolute tangible reality. I understand that if one looks at a large battle from numerous sources of primary evidence one wonders if they are evidence of the same battle.
     
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  6. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Could you take pictures of pages 18-20 which if Google Books is correct contains the story under review.
     
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  7. gary

    gary Captain

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    The editors Cnthia DeHaven Pitcock and Bill J.Gurley wrote about the seizures in pages 17-19. They drew from the MO Historical Society for their reference. For me it's the legal autority of the Provost Marshal to supercede the Constitution that I find interesting.
     
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  8. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    The essence of martial law is the suspension of Constitutional rights and substitution of military law. The devil is in the details. At the moment it appears to me that the Provost Marshal is carrying out orders given to it not as an independent agency.
     
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  9. major bill

    major bill Major Forum Host

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    A Provost Marshal is not allowed to supersede the Constitution, however it was the Martial Law that allowed it. The military becomes the executive and the judge and jury in place of the normal civilian government. As judge the Provost Marshal could fine someone. As to why the Provost Marshal might fine him remains unknown to me and this is something we would have to see if there was paper work that shows why the Provost Marshal might have done this.

    This is one of the issues of declaring Martial Law. The US military is not set up to be judge and jury instead of the normal courts. The power given to the military under Martial Law is open to abuse. Martial Law should only be used when the civilian government is unable to administer laws. The Federal Government and the Confederate Government probably used Martial Law too often during the Civil War.

    I did a fair amount of planning for emergency operations. Part of this was looking at what might need to happen if Martial Law was declared. Putting the military in complete control of part of the United States is a very frightening. prospect.
     
  10. gary

    gary Captain

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    The devil is indeed in the details. I am aware that under martial law civil rights are suspended, but what sort of judicial proceeding allowed for the arbritrary fine of $2k to be levied against McPheeters? Would the proceeds of the seizure be placed into the public purse or personal purse? The example of Benjamin Butler in New Orleans suggests that personal enrichment is very likely. In short, it becomes legalized conversion (substantial trespass to chattel) that the civil courts were incapable of offering relief.

    Several years ago financial planner/adviser Peter Schiff warned that under the NDAA '12, in a declared national emergency, the federal government could take the cotton in your socks or underwear, the sugar in your cupboard, and anything else deemed necessary for national defense.

    Thankfully McPheeters was a doctor and not another Jack Hinson who went full blown killer on his antagonists. Then again, chattel is replacable and kinfolk are not.
     
  11. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Indeed.

    We need more info.. I saw footnotes referencing records, perhaps they might be enlightening. However the book is very locked down and free looks are nominal.
     
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  12. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Or provost was executing a court order.
     
  13. gary

    gary Captain

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    From page 338 of the endnotes of pages 17-19:

    EN 36: The U.S. Census of 1860 lists the McPheeters household as follows: William M., age forty-three; Sarah, third; George B., ten; Margaret, one; and William, five. Servants living on the property were: Mary Germer, age forty-three, born in Ireland; Mary Meyer, nineteen, born in Germany; Mini Meyer, sixteen, born in Germany; and Henry Volker, fourteen, born in Germany.

    EN 37: W. M. McPeeters, "The Following Articles," Missouri Republican, Jan. 23, 29, 1962, in scrapbook, McPheeters Collection, MHS.

    EN 38: Newspaper clipping, interview of Sallie, in scrapbook, McPheeters Collection, MHS; W. M. McPheeters, "Private Paper No. 1. Reasons for Quitting Home and Joining the Southern Army," McPheeters collection, MHS.

    MHS is Missouri Historical Society
     
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  14. gary

    gary Captain

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    The book is silent, but such was the case, there should have been a hearing for purposes of due process and McPheeters should have retained legal representation.

    This is what makes Hystery so fun. It may be obvious to McPheeters and his family, but to us it's a mystery.
     
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  15. mobile_96

    mobile_96 First Sergeant

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    Wonder if it wasn't a fine, but a bond, to show , and prove allegience
     
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  16. mofederal

    mofederal 2nd Lieutenant Member of the Month

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    A number of years ago I bought a book, called "The Little Gods" Union Provost Marshals in Missouri 1861-65 by Joanna Chiles Eakin & Annette W. Curtis. During the war about 13,535 arrest were made, with several thousand more made by Provost Marshals and were reported. According to the author's research in Washington at least half of those arrests were made in Missouri. That PM's exceeded their authority is beyond a doubt, there is some evidence in some cases that show their actions were for their own gain. This book also had a published part two.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017 at 2:08 AM
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  17. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    I have book on the CSA provosts and they were resented a lot.
     
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  18. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    I hate mysteries. I want to know the why.

    As info we have a thread here.
    Missouri Provost Marshal Records 1861-1866 | American Civil War

    and a link
    Missouri Digital Heritage : Union Provost Marshal Papers: 1861 - 1866

     
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  19. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Missouri Digital Heritage : Union Provost Marshal Papers: 1861 - 1866

    In September 1862, the federal Adjutant General's office issued General Order No. 140, appointing special provost marshals for each state. The special provost marshal had many responsibilities, which included investigating charges or acts of treason and arresting deserters, spies, and persons deemed disloyal. A reorganization of the War Department in 1863 eliminated the position of special provost marshal, but appointed an assistant provost marshal general (APMG) for each state, a provost marshal for each congressional district and a deputy provost marshal for each county. The duties remained much the same. In addition, the provost marshal assigned to the district was responsible for maintaining troop discipline, assuming custody of prisoners and deserters, administering punishment, and suppressing any depredations and disturbances caused by Army troops or individual soldiers.

    These provost marshals were assigned regardless of the level of active warfare within a state or district. In districts with active fighting, the provost marshal's primary duty was to limit marauding against citizens, prevent stragglers on long marches, and generally suppress gambling or other vices not conducive to good order and discipline. However, in many districts, the war's fighting was somewhat removed and the area did not see battles. In these areas, the provost marshal's duties were more magisterial. The provost marshal had the power to administer and enforce the law when it came to regulating public places; conduct searches, seizures, and arrests; issue passes to citizens for movement in and out of Union lines; and record and investigate citizen complaints. It was not uncommon for the law to be suspended in many cases and for the provost marshal, mostly independent of any real supervision, to dispense with the rules of civil procedure.
     
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  20. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    source
    Hart, Henry N.; Barrett, J. R.; Leitch, Arthur; Townsend, [unknown]; Colston, Edward; Dusheimer, Lewis; Stella, Franklin; Golding, [unknown]; Magoffin, [unknown]; Jones, Isaac; Johnson, W.; McPheeters, W. M.; Chouteau, Charles; etal Saint Louis
    List of 77 persons accused of disloyalty; gives names, occupations, and some addresses; appears to be continued with additional names in file 1340 06-25-1862 F1585 0926 1339
     
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  21. gary

    gary Captain

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    Rebel Watchdogs?

    Good info in those posts above too. Thanks.
     
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