Category Archives: Anna von Reitz

How to Deal with a Dysfunctional Media and Press Corps


By Anna Von Reitz

Recent attempts to let corporations — Facebook, Twitter, etc. — censor free speech have sparked much controversy.  


As corporations they can set their company policies and ban things like “hate speech” — however, as corporations receiving the benefits of bankruptcy protection and the “corporate veil” under our delegated authority (now returned to us) and as businesses making use of our public airwaves to deliver and sell their products — not so much. 

In fact, all segments and franchises of the Federal Government including Territorial and Municipal franchises — are required to obey our Public Law — which guarantees the right of Free Speech to all Americans. 

Now all you have to do is stand up and reclaim your political status as an American and not a “US Citizen” —- and tell President Trump that these yahoos are attempting to censor your Free Speech.  

That’s offense enough to justify liquidation of any corporation.  Plus fines. 

Remember that corporations can be organized and incorporated for any “lawful” purpose — “lawful” not merely “legal”.  They have to honor our Public Law or get smashed flat as pancakes.  

All President Trump has to do, is do it.  In our behalf.  Thank you, very much. 


This comes on the heels of general discontent and disbelief with regard to the Mainstream Media.  Everyone above the age of 14 knows that it is for-entertainment-purposes-only and that it is mostly anti-American screed, but few people know why.  

(1) The Press has been under gag orders since WWII so they can’t print any news that might in some way affect “national security”.  

That accounts for why all we hear about are car wrecks in Duluth and Kim Kardashian’s latest nail polish. 

The US Army in its utter brilliance has been defining us, their employers, as “the Enemy” and protecting us from ourselves by censoring everything down to cotton candy on one hand and running unlawful surveillance schemes against us through their agency contracts on the other.  

If it weren’t so stupid and at such cross-purposes, it would be funny, but as it is, we prefer to regard it as a stellar example of grotesque mis-management of manpower and resources. 

(2) The Press organs are largely owned by six multi-national conglomerates that have no loyalty to this country and are run by foreigners. 

We are about to start charging them for the use of our air waves and mandating standards that respect our right to free speech and open communications.  And if they don’t like it, they can sell out their interests in our communications industry to an American Company that will respect our rights and pay what they should for jamming our ears 24/7. 

We could also bring anti-monopoly charges against the Six Little Piggies and bust them up like Ma Bell, forcing them to sell out and sell down so as to promote (and allow) competition and varied market sources. 

The Army can establish its own standards for its own employees and keep their pert noses focused on their actual business, which is not promoting domestic political agendas here in this country or anywhere else.  Our Constitution provides for them to “defend” us — not dabble in big business, censorship, and fake Radio Free America crappola. 

Please share this information with President Trump.  He seems to be having difficulty with “The Press” — without realizing that the American Press got sick in the 1930’s, was finally murdered during World War II, and is still awaiting resurrection.  

Most likely he doesn’t realize that the U.S. Army has such a strangle-hold on the Press — and that it is not entirely the fault of the Press that things are the way they are. 

After all, it doesn’t make much sense for us to blame the Press for failure to do its job, when it is being prevented from doing its job by an Army that isn’t doing its job. 

We give President Trump our free and full permission to begin anti-monopoly action against the Six Little Piggies — the foreign multi-national media conglomerates clogging our airwaves with vacuous nonsense and sales ads and inappropriately slanted political screeds. 

We give him our free and full permission to get the U.S. Army out of the censorship business and stop pretending that James Comey’s personal welfare is a National Security issue.  Instead, they can start protecting our right to Free Speech and clearing our airwaves.  That is, after all, part of why we pay them. 

We give him our free and full permission to lock down foreign media outlets and/or charge them high tariffs to operate in this country and to use our Executive Power to do so, without need for any reference to the Washington DC Municipal Charter and no permission from the Territorial “Congress” is required. 

If the FCC doesn’t like it, fire the whole lot of them.  If the Territorial “Congress” complains, who cares? 

If they want to sit around and be snarky and make fun of everyone but the in-crowd they need to pay through the nose until they bleed. If they want to push anti-American crap on our airwaves they need to be charged so much it puts them out of business.  Period. 

These are our airwaves.  We can determine who gets the use of them or not and at what price.  With or without the blessings of the Territorial Congress, and without the need for any special agency Nabobs.  Again, thank you, very much. 

And as for the National Press Club, the Journalism Schools at all the Public Universities, and the “American Press Corps” — we encourage them to remember what their job is supposed to be, that editorials belong on the editorial page, not commingled with the news, that journalism is supposed to be a “noble calling”  and not an excuse for political grandstanding, pandering, and payola-mongering. 

If you are an American Journalist you owe it to yourself to resurrect The Fourth Estate in this country and reclaim your self-respect.  And if you are not an American Journalist, what are you doing on our airwaves? 

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See this article and over 1100 others on Anna’s website here: http://www.annavonreitz.com
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By Operation of Law


By Anna Von Reitz

I highly recommend that those who are just encountering this information read our book, “You Know Something Is Wrong When…..An American Affidavit of Probable Cause” as a starting place.  It gives the overall basics in an easy-to-read illustrated format and provides very handy information in the Appendix.  This book gives references and citations as it goes through its narrative.  It is available on Amazon.com as are all the other books. 

If you are a more hard-charging “Just the Facts Ma’am” executive type, the same basic information is covered in a sound-bite format in our book “America: Some Assembly Required”. If you need to get up to speed fast and can take in information in 30-second or less increments and build the picture as you go, this book will summarize the situation and the history for you in about an hour and a half.  This book doesn’t give a references and citations that have been provided elsewhere so includes only one or two new citations covering additional topics. 

Behind, before, and underlying these two books is the first book, “Disclosure 101”, which is the history of how I got involved, how I addressed the problem, and ultimately where it all led.  This book includes publication of basic documents I or others issued in pursuit of remedy and gives eleven pages of underlying citations and references. 

President Trump has, since the publication of these books, sicced teams of lawyers on the information and combed the National Archives. As a result, it has all been newly confirmed. At the highest levels of international government there has never been any disagreement about the facts, there has only been a divide between those who knew and those who didn’t know.  President Trump now knows and has the proof of the facts we have brought forward. 

Despite what is apparent in the external world, many people think that our country functions under one government.  It doesn’t and except for five years early on, it never has. 

Examine what happened between 1776 to 1781.  During those years The United States of America [Unincorporated] was the sole face of our country to the external world.  It was and is an unincorporated Federation of States, which are also unincorporated entities.  The members of The United States of America Federation are known simply as: Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, and so on. 

Five years after the States and the original Federation were formed, a
Confederation of States of States was formed under The Articles of Confederation.  

The members of the Confederation were all doing-business-as entities belonging to the Federation States.  These “States of States” did business as “The State of Florida”, “The State of Wisconsin” and so on.  They were all members of the “States of America” and were called “Confederate States” long before the Civil War. 

It was these original States of States that were party to The Constitution for the united States of America and they, together, were intended to exercise the nineteen Powers delegated to them by the sovereign States and The United States of America. 

And then came the Civil War.  The Confederation of States of America was torn apart.  After the mercenary conflict (never a true war) ended, the original States of States needed to be “Reconstructed” — hence the “Reconstruction Era”. 

Britain saw its chance to usurp — again — against our lawful government, and  via fraudulent means substituted Territorial “States of States” to replace the actual Federal States of States, and used that as a means to commandeer our Federal Government and exercise our Delegated Powers for its own benefit.  The Territorial “States of States” have operated under names styled like this: “the State of Vermont”, “the State of Florida” and so on ever since.

Millions of innocent Americans assumed that the “State of Florida” was the same as “The State of Florida” but in fact a terrible change had taken place. 

The actual Federal States of States were moth-balled and converted into State Land Trusts doing business as, for example, the Florida State, the Ohio States, and the Michigan State. 

And every year the renegade Territorial United States Congress votes to “set aside” the actual Constitution owed to our General Government and pretends that our Federal Government  — which never exercised anything but Delegated Powers in the first place — is “in abeyance” and that their Territorial Government therefore takes its place. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.  

In fact, by Operation of Law, when an agent exercising delegated authority becomes incompetent to exercise that authority, it does not evaporate or bump down the railroad tracks to the next lower level of government.  It reverts to the government that delegated the power in the first place —- The United States of America and its member States.  

The problem is that we were never notified of all these changes purportedly being made “for” us and were in fact purposefully deceived by international Trustees acting in Gross Breach of Trust against us and against our interests.  

As a result, the “Reconstruction” of our Federal States of States has remained incomplete since 1868.  We were purposefully misled into thinking that the Reconstruction was over and done, but in fact, nothing but a fraudulent substitution had taken place. 

In the last two years both the Territorial United States and the Municipal United States have been bankrupted and also become incompetent to function under their own power, albeit for different reasons. 

So all three levels of the Federal Government created to exercise the Delegated Powers and manage the Territorial Possessions and provide a government for Washington, DC, have been rendered incompetent. 

By Operation of Law, the Delegated Powers have reverted to The United States of America, it’s member States, and their People.  To us, in other words.  We have stepped forward in a timely fashion and acknowledged and accepted the return of our Delegated Powers.  We have arranged for President Trump to enter the legitimate though long-vacant Office of the President of The United States of America and extended a month-by-month service contract in support of the American military and basic services as outlined by our original Constitution.  

Everything else that you are seeing go on — all the fire and nonsense of the political parties, all the investigations into this and that, all the fear-mongering and posturing and arguments ongoing in Washington, DC — are the stuff that dreams and illusions are made of — the corporate politics of legal fiction entities. 

And all of it is completely foreign to us.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with our actual government.  It’s the Kitchen Staff amusing itself and beginning to sober up after a long debauch and improper occupation of the actual Landlord’s estate. 

Our Government is not and has never been a “democracy”.  Our people don’t “vote” — they elect.   We don’t convene Congresses of “States of States”.  We convene Congresses of States.  Likewise, our Congressional Delegates are “Deputies” of our State Legislatures — that is, Fiduciary Officers owing their allegiance to us and our States, not “Representatives” owing allegiance to political parties and corporate bottom lines. 

It is this last point that deserves special Notice and mention.  A Fiduciary Deputy 
working for our actual State of the Union is accountable for the way they spend your money and can be “recalled” by the State Legislature if they fail to meet the Prudent Man Standard.  

A mere “Representative” claiming to “represent” your State of the Union in an agency capacity has no such accountability or office, and as a result these Territorial Congressional Delegations have been spending like drunken sailors and racking up Odious Debt against you and your State — and getting away with it for 150 years — simply because you didn’t wake up and object.  Instead, you were misled and duped into participating in their fraud and thereby seeming to support their insubordination. 

And now we come to a New Day, not a New Deal. 

The Delegated Powers have returned to us and to our States by Operation of Law. 

You have been informed of the situation and are called upon to correct your political status records which have been conveniently falsified “for” you, and to return to reclaim your birthright and operate your actual State. 

The means to convey your Trade Name back to the land and soil of your birth state and to seize control of your affairs and to assert your “reversionary trust interest” has been provided for you.  Go to Article 928 on my website: www.annavonreitz.com and record your claim to your Good Name and Estate. 

Recording your claim to your own Name and re-conveying it back to the land and soil jurisdiction of your state is Step One.  Seizing control of all the Derivative NAMES and expatriating them back to the land and soil jurisdiction is Step Two. 
Denying all Powers of Attorney and assigning your Trade Name as the only Attorney in Fact is Step Three.  Rebooting your lawful County Jural Assembly is Step Four.  And Reconstituting your State Jural Assembly is Step Five. 

This is a lot to take in and a lot of work to do.  

But Americans have done more with less. 

All of you who have ancestors who were living in this country prior to the Civil War are automatically “grandfathered in” to the guarantees of the original Constitutions and the National Trust — you merely have to accept and claim your birthright and heritage and record a “Claim for the Life – Lineage Treaty”. 

We took the pre-caution of locating a cadre of men qualified to claim each and every State over two years ago, so that under the Last Man Standing Rule, we have effectively claimed back the entire country from the verge of loss to foreign bank creditors.  That does not relieve anyone of their responsibility as Americans to assemble and operate their lawful government. 

That this situation even exists should be eloquent enough warning to all of you to (1) take action to preserve your own protections and exemptions and property rights and (2) pay attention and get involved in assembling your local county and state units of government.   

Those things operating “as” counties and “as” States of States aren’t your government.  You are your government.  That is what “self-governance” means. 
So get your records straight and get busy, or a bunch of European sharpies will be more than willing to claim everything you think of as yours as payment for debts you don’t owe. 

And now one final plug.  The research that led to these conclusions and actions and which have served to protect you and your family and bring forward the actions that have been taken to preserve your country and your property rights and your State of the Union — has all been done by people like me, working away for free for years at a time, not all those people on your payroll.  

We get nothing —- no pay from the renegade “government” and in fact, many of us have suffered and died and been attacked by these criminals and prosecuted under deliberately constructed false legal presumptions.  Many of us have spent time in jail — not for our “political beliefs” — but because we had the temerity to assert our birthright and claim our property and our exemptions.  

In doing this, we protected all of you and even protected those persecuting us, because without this, all our land, all our rights, all our freedoms would have been lost. 

The international bankers actually thought they were going to pull it off, and claim that our entire continent was “abandoned” assets, up for grabs. 

If you have any sense of just how close this entire country and the rest of the world has come to disaster — get going.  Reclaim your Good Name and your rightful political status and then, boot up your local assemblies.

And if you can, send a donation our way.  Because our accounts were commandeered along with everything else and bungled up and commingled as part of these infernal bankruptcies — we still have no money to operate on. 

Everything is being boot-strapped. Everything is being done by volunteers.  Our researchers and our lawyers are making huge sacrifices.  The least we can do as a nation is to pay their out of pocket costs — materials, court fees, postage, travel, electricity. 

Our PayPal is the same as my email address:  avannavon@gmail.com.  Snail mail for donations is: Anna Maria Riezinger, c/o Box 520994, Big Lake, Alaska 99652. 

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See this article and over 1100 others on Anna’s website here: http://www.annavonreitz.com
To support this work look for the PayPal button on this website.

Native Leaders — Use Your Heads


By Anna Von Reitz

If I had gone along with the “deal” Chief Fasthorse was promoting, I would have been signing your death warrants instead of welcoming you to the table.  Most likely, I would have been signing my own death warrant, too. 


You have to think things through and not just from your own perspective. 

There is no way for 15 million Native Americans from at least 100 different tribes to come in and establish a superior claim and take away the land rights of 350 million other Americans without a bloodbath.

Such a thing would create a reason— that otherwise doesn’t exist— for the final decimation and destruction of the Native Nations. 

About the time you swaggered up some guy’s driveway and told him that you were the new “owners” of his property, the same old war would begin, and there is no reason to think that the results would be any better or different. 

Instead, you get to come home to the land and soil jurisdiction and get out of the “Second Class Citizen” status you were all stuck in, and are now able to live and stand on the land again as free men and women.  

There are other reasons, too.  

The United States of America is the established lawful government of this country. We have contracts and agreements with these “High Contracting Powers” that we can exercise —- and not only treaties, but commercial contracts and trusts that we are heir to already.   We don’t have to recreate any wheels, fight any wars, or cause any problems.  All we have to do is invoke what already exists and operate the General Government already owed to this country. 

Any sort of new Native Super State would have none of that in place and would be prey to any number of foreign alliances coming against it and all sorts of  traditional tribal squabbles and internal power struggles, on top of having 95% of your neighbors mad at you.

What chance would such a new “Indigenous Nation” have?  

Not much.  

You cannot hope to address injustices that occurred in the past by creating new injustices against other people in the present.  Number One — that doesn’t work.  Number Two — all it does is create more injustice. 

Injustice against anyone is a form of violence and violence just begets more violence.  So if you want peace and plenty in your lifetimes, give justice to others who have paid their dues to be here, too, whose bodies have come from this land, and whose bodies will return to it when they die, just the same as yours. And stop fighting a war that ended 150 years ago. 

You have a rich heritage and thanks to the work of The Living Law Firm, it can finally be a happy and abundant heritage, too.  

As for me, I have always valued the great compliment that the local Winnebago Tribe, the Ho-Chunka Nation, gave to me as a youngster.  It’s an honor to be considered a member of the tribe, but we all know that I will never be a Winnebago by blood and so, we would be building a new nation on another “fib” of sorts, an honorary title “as” a Winnebago.  That’s not good enough to form the foundations for a new start for a whole country. 

Finally, I want to point out that I have retrieved the “Natural and Unalienable Rights” our forefathers fought for from the dust bin of history, and if I were to turn my back on The United States of America [Unincorporated] I really would be committing treason against this country and its people—-all of them, of every color and creed — who have fought and died and suffered for it. 

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See this article and over 1100 others on Anna’s website here: http://www.annavonreitz.com
To support this work look for the PayPal button on this website.

Ready to Tear Hair


By Anna Von Reitz

Even people who SHOULD know better get confused.
But, really, folks, it’s time to use your own heads.

Would you go to the library, take out a book called “All About Cows”, go home, read it, and then call me up and ask why you can’t find any information about horses in a book called “All About Cows”???
WHY would you do such a thing?
So I get a reader saying, “I went and looked in the State Statutes and I couldn’t find any references to a Public Notary ……”
Statutes deal with sea jurisdiction (cows) so why would you look there for information about a land jurisdiction office (horses)?
It’s the same thing with all these people calling up the Alaska Court System and the Alaska Bar Association — both as sea jurisdiction as it is possible to be (cows, cows, cows) — and asking about me, a Counselor-at-Law and Justice of the Peace and our land jurisdiction court (horses, horses, horses)?
It makes no sense that people are doing these things when they have been told point blank what they are dealing with and what the jurisdictions are.
Information about Law and Public Offices— (horses) — can be found in the General Session Laws and Public Laws governing this country.
Note the word: “Law”.
A statute, code, or regulation is not a law.
Information about Statutes, Codes, and Regulations (cows) are found in State Statutes and Federal Codes.
Please note that by definition, Federal Courts, which include Territorial State of State and Municipal STATE OF STATE COURTS are incompetent to hear “law or facts”.
See that little word? Law?
All they can deal with are fictional entities and corporations and statutes— which aren’t actually law at all — and never pretend to be.
That’s why the Bar Attorneys have to “practice law” instead of being engaged in the actual thing, that’s why they have to make up stories about you and create corporations named after you to try to drag you (and your assets) into their jurisdiction—-and that’s why you have to look in the right books to find the right information.
Until you all figure this out and tell your neighbors, there is the danger that next time you see me, I’ll be bald, because I snatched out my last remaining hairs in frustration.
Help save Grandma’s curly locks. Memorize this information. Share it. Carry a Cheat Sheet if necessary.
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See this article and over 1100 others on Anna’s website here: http://www.annavonreitz.com
To support this work look for the PayPal button on this website.

Demand and Decree of the Sovereign Government


By Anna Von Reitz

To boil it down pure and simple — the Federal Government was created to exercise certain “Delegated Powers”.  

Three different levels of Federal Government were created — the actual Federal Government operated by the States of America formed in 1781, which was moth-balled under conditions of deceit and fraud in 1868, the Territorial Government designed to administer new territorial acquisitions under the Northwest Ordinance and such Insular States and possessions (like Puerto Rico and Guam) and the Municipal Government to administer Washington, DC. 
Over the last three years, all three levels of this “Federal Government” have been rendered incompetent.  The actual Federal Government is still dormant pending completion of its “reconstruction”.  Both the Territorial and Municipal Government have gone bankrupt. 
By Operation of Law, the Delegated Powers have returned to the source Delegating those Powers in the first place —- The United States of America, its member States, and its People. 
And here, attached, is The Demand and Decree accepting and acknowledging the return of these Powers and demand for the return of our assets.   


Email and Letter to Pope Francis, August 9, 2018


By Anna Von Reitz

I have just been informed by Chief Fasthorse that he has willfully misrepresented and misinterpreted certain facts that impact any proposed settlement with the Holy See and The United States of America — the actual Federation of States. 


1. Please note that we, The United States of America, re-issued our Sovereign Letters Patent two days prior to the Sovereign Letters Patent signed by us and Chief Fasthorse.  The intent was and for our part, is, to share the land and soil of this country on a fair, full, and equal basis with the Native tribes.  

We do not propose to give them claim to our shared land under the same bogus principles of the Doctrine of Discovery that they themselves have suffered under.  It doesn’t matter whether our ancestors “discovered” America in 15,000 B.C. or 1602 A.D.  

2.  He has misrepresented my political status as that of a Winnebago Tribal Member and this is grossly incorrect.  I have repeatedly, soundly, and unequivocally declared myself to be an American standing on the land and soil of Wisconsin, and similar to any proposition that the Territorial United States could convert my political status by “conferring” United States Citizenship upon me, I object and deny any power granted to the Winnebago or any other tribe to convert my nationality or suborn my political status as an American and a Wisconsinite. 

3.  You need to deal directly with me and stop this madness of misrepresentation and self-interest gone mad. 

I have forwarded our acknowledgement and acceptance of the return of the “Delegated Powers” to the administration of The United States of America by Operation of Law to Cardinal Parolin, the Queen, Donald Trump and other interested Parties—- which includes demand to return our assets to us and to our control.  

Your Predecessors and your Vassals, the British Monarchs, have acted in Breach of Trust so long, so flagrantly, that you finally bit yourselves in the butt and rendered all three levels of the Federal Government incompetent at the same time, which leaves only our General Government still standing.  

It is quite true that we need to “begin again” and we have, with a firm foundation bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers which is not dependent on any “constitutional” agreement with either the British Monarchs or the Holy See. And equally not dependent on any false claims made by Native Americans. 

The Natives are welcome to come home like any other American to the land and soil of their birth.  They are not welcome to make inflated and self-aggrandizing and unjust claims.  

Thank you very much—-and be aware that any attempt to give our  freely shared land or any other assets belonging to this whole country away to any subset of it will be cause for strenuous and very public objection fully exposing the role of the Holy See in all of this skullduggery, piracy, and fraud. 

Anna Maria

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See this article and over 1100 others on Anna’s website here: http://www.annavonreitz.com
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The Civil War Fraud


By Anna Von Reitz

— This is a reprint of an article that explains a small but important part of what went on after the Civil War and it places a glaring spotlight on the mis-administration of our country that went on then and which has continued under the auspices of the Territorial and Municipal United States Governments ever since.  ENJOY —- and thanks to Bill Ward: 

The Civil War Fraud 

By Bill Ward

When the War Between the States ended, the victorious Northerners viewed Jefferson Davis, as the former President of the Confederate States of America, much differently than others who had served the Confederacy.

For example, when Robert E. Lee surrendered to U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, the meeting between the two generals was amicable. Lee was received and treated with courtesy as a senior officer. The terms were so apparently lenient, with Grant conceding to Lee’s requests on behalf of his soldiers, the surrender was referred to as “a gentleman’s agreement.”

However, even after signing a loyalty oath, Lee and other former Confederate Army officers and members of the CSA government were later disenfranchised and treated as second-class citizens. But in the eyes of the northern public, Jefferson Davis was set apart for still a different kind of treatment.

On May 10, 1865, about a mile from the town of Irwinville, Georgia, Federal troops captured Davis. With his arrest on that spring morning, his government ceased to exist. His wife, Varina, and their children were sent to Savannah, where she was kept under virtual house arrest and forbidden to leave the city. Because the soldiers, carpetbaggers and Union supporters treated the Davis children so badly, Varina arranged for them to go to Canada along with her mother.

Davis had been taken back to Virginia and imprisoned in Fort Monroe, where he would stay for the next two years. At first, he was bound in leg irons. Guards watched him around the clock but were not permitted to speak to him. He was allowed no visitors; a light burned in his cell day and night; and his only reading material was a Bible. His treatment was a clear violation of the Bill of Rights.

Many Northern Congressmen and newspapers were nothing short of vicious in their public attacks of Davis. They wanted to see him tried for treason and hanged. In one article, and in one very long sentence, the New York Times referred to Davis by every insulting comment and offensive name that was fit to print. Rhetoric far outran legal reasoning.

But if Davis was in an unusual legal predicament, so was the United States government. The dilemma faced by Washington was how to handle the Davis case. The government under Lincoln had created its own major obstacles by spending four years proclaiming that secessionists were “traitors and conspirators.” The U.S. military had silenced opposition to the administration by closing down newspapers that dared challenge the party line or to make the slightest suggestion that secession might be legal. Thousands of Northerners had been jailed for exercising their First Amendment rights, and those thousands had friends with long memories in the Northern bar.

Northern lawyers were angry for having their clients locked in prison with no civil rights as guaranteed by the Constitution; having civilians tried by military courts for non-existent crimes; having a government that ignored the Supreme Court, setting itself above the constitutional plan of checks and balances. They didn’t like having to beg the president for justice for clients convicted by phony courts-martial or locked up for long periods without any trial. Under Lincoln, the U.S. government had become tyrannical, and certainly anything but a free and constitutional society.

The best lawyers of the day were willing to volunteer to defend Jefferson Davis, because they were angry at the way Lincoln’s government had trampled the Bill of Rights and the Constitution for four years. Even those who didn’t believe in secession were repulsed by the conduct of the Republican administration and the U.S. military.

Charles O’Connor of New York, one of the most famous trial lawyers of the era and a man of great stature in the legal profession, volunteered to be Davis’s counsel. Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, would be the trial judge.

But interesting things began to happen, and the government’s dilemma became even worse. University of Virginia Law Professor, Albert Bledsoe, published a book, “Is Davis a Traitor?” Bledsoe methodically took apart the case against secession, delivering a solid blow to the prosecutors and dampening their zeal to try Davis. Prosecutors actually began to look for a way to avoid trying him without vindicating the South.

Then another method was decided on for prosecution. The attorney general would bring in outside, independent counsel, as we have seen in modern times, such as in Watergate or the Clinton scandals. The government needed someone of great standing in the legal community to be the lead prosecutor. It chose John J. Clifford. But after reviewing the case, Clifford withdrew citing “grave doubts” about the validity of the case. The government could “end up having fought a successful war, only to have it declared unlawful by a Virginia jury,” where Davis’s “crime” was alleged to have been committed.

President Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, thought the easiest way out would be to pardon Davis, as he had pardoned many other Confederates. But Davis refused, saying, “To ask for a pardon would be a confession of guilt.” He wanted a trial to have the issue of secession decided by a court of law — where it should have been decided to begin with — instead of on battlefields. Most Southerners wanted the same.
Northerners either forgot or were unaware of a great secessionist tradition in America. Southerners were not alone in their view that each state had the right to determine its own destiny in the Union. The procedure for joining the Union also applied to withdrawing from the Union.

That thought harkens back to an editorial by the Cincinnati (Ohio) Daily Inquirer, in the summer of 1861, after the “traitor” label was let loose by the North: “The Republican papers are great on treason. . . . It is treason to circulate petitions for a compromise or peaceful readjustment of our national troubles . . . to question the constitutional powers of the President to increase the standing army without authority of law . . . to object to squads of military visiting private houses, and to make search and seizures. . . to question the infallibility of the President, and treason not to concur with him. . . It is treason to talk of hard times; to say that the war might have been avoided. It is treason to be truthful and faithful to the Constitution.”

A year after John Clifford withdrew, the government appointed another special counsel, Richard Dana of Boston, who had written the novel, “Two Years Before the Mast.” But after reviewing the evidence, he agreed with Clifford; the case was a loser. Dana argued that “a conviction will settle nothing in law or national practice not now settled…as a rule of law by war.” Dana observed that the right to secede from the Union had not been settled by civilized means but by military power and the destruction of much life and property in the South. The North should accept its uncivilized victory, however dirty its hands might be, and not expose the fruits of its carnage to scrutiny by a peaceful court of law.

Now, over two years after Davis’s imprisonment and grand jury indictments for treason, the stage was set for the great public trial of the century. Davis had been released from prison on a $100,000 bond, supported by none other than Horace Greeley, the leading abolitionist writer in the North and a former Lincoln supporter. Greeley and a host of others were outraged at the treatment Davis had received, being locked up in a dungeon for more than two years with no speedy trial.

Since two famous special counsels had told the government its case was a loser, finally, none other than the Chief Justice, in a quirk of Constitutional manipulation, devised an idea to avoid a trial without vindicating the South. His amazing solution was little short of genius.

The Fourteenth Amendment had been adopted, which provided that anyone who had engaged in insurrection against the United States and had at one time taken an oath of allegiance (which Davis had done as a U.S. Senator) could not hold public office. The Bill of Rights prevents double jeopardy, so Davis, who had already been punished once by the Fourteenth Amendment in not being permitted to hold public office, couldn’t be tried and punished again for treason.

Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase secretly passed along his clever argument to Davis’s counsel, Charles O’Connor, who then made the motion to dismiss. The Court took the motion under consideration, passing the matter on to the Supreme Court for determination.

In late December 1867 while the motion was pending, President Johnson granted amnesty to everyone in the South, including Davis. But the Davis case was still on the docket. In February 1868, at a dinner party attended by the Chief Justice and a government attorney, they agreed that on the following day a motion for non-prosecution would be made that would dismiss the case. A guest overheard the conversation and reported what was on the minds of most Southerners: “I did not consider that he [Davis] was any more guilty of treason than I was, and that a trial should be insisted upon, which could properly only result in a complete vindication of our cause, and of the action of the many thousands who had fought and of the many thousands who had died for what they felt to be right.”

And so, the case of United States versus Jefferson Davis came to its end — a case that was to be the trial of the century, a great state trial, perhaps the most significant trial in the history of the nation — that never was.


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