Washington, June 2, 2020
President Trump’s call to deploy active-duty military forces to suppress violent riots in cities across the country harkens back to another dark period in America’s history. Should — and will — rank-and-file troops obey the commander in chief if ordered to round up and arrest American citizens for acts of violence? We only need to look back in history to gain a glimpse of how this might end.
Washington, April 15, 1861.
Secretary of War Simon Cameron’s communique to the various state governors
Sir:—Under the act of Congress for calling out the militia to execute the laws of the Union to suppress insurrection, repel invasion, &c., approved February 28th, 1795, I have the honor to request your Excellency to cause to be immediately detached from the militia of your state, the quota designated in the table below to serve as infantry or riflemen for three months, or sooner, if discharged.
Will today’s soldiers obey orders of the commander in chief to attack family and friends? Or will they do as some prominent veterans and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have suggested and lay down their arms in defiance if President Trump invokes the 1807 Insurrection Act? And if soldiers disobey a direct order would you consider them traitors or patriots?