Alan W. Trelease, White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction (1971)
Trelease, Allen W. . White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.
Holden, despairing of a fair trial in the civil courts, had resolved to try them by military commission. He therefore wrote Pearson a lengthy public letter on July 26, justifying his proclamations of insurrection and politely declining to surrender the prisoners. "As the Chief Executive I seek to restore, not to subvert, the judicial power. your Honor has done your duty, and in perfect harmony with you I seek to do mine...It would be mockery in me to declare that the civil authority was unable to protect the citizens against the insurgents, and then turn the insurgents over to the civil authority" In effect Holden suspended habeas corpus without saying so. The illogic lay not in his argument but in the state constitution which with one hand empowered him to call out the militia to suppress insurrection and with the other denied him one of the essential supports of that power. Pearson accepted the governor's answer gracefully. He ruled that his authority was now exhausted and he lacked power either to arrest the governor as requested by the prisoners or to force him to comply with a court order. It was not unlike the legal impasse between President Lincoln and chief Justice Taney over habeas corpus cases during the war, except that Holden and Pearson may have had a personal understanding.
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