Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Arrest of Daniel K. Weis - August 1862

On August 4, 1862, elections were held in Kentucky to fill district and county offices. They were the first elections to take place since the state had entered the Civil War and were considered an important indicator in regard to the general feeling of the state.

Boyd County candidates in the 1862 Elections
Sandy Valley Advocate, July 31, 1862

On July 21, 1862, Brigadier-General Boyle, commander of the District of Kentucky, issued General Orders No. 5 – “No person hostile in opinion to the Government, and desiring its overthrow, will be allowed to stand office in the District of Kentucky. The attempt of such a person to stand for office will be regarded as is itself sufficient evidence of his treasonable intent to warrant his arrest. He, who desires the overthrow of the Government, can seek office under the Government only to promote its overthrow. In seeking office, he becomes an active traitor, if he has never become one otherwise, and, is liable, both in reason and in law, to be treated accordingly. All persons of this description, who persist in offering themselves as candidates for office, will be arrested and sent to these headquarters.”

In order to weed out secessionists from loyal citizens, the authorities relied on the Expatriation Act, passed by the Kentucky legislature on March 11, 1862, requiring that every person who came to the polls to vote should take an oath "that he has not entered into the service of the Confederate States, nor of the so-called provisional government of Kentucky, in either a civil or military capacity…”

Captain Charles G. Matchett, Co. G, 40th Ohio Infantry, Provost Marshall at Catlettsburg, promptly published the full Expatriation Act in the Sandy Valley Advocate, along with General Order No. 4, warning the citizens that force would be used to enforce the act to the fullest spirit and intend.

Critics regarded Boyle’s order and the enforcement of the Expatriation Act as an unwarranted exercise of authority by the military as well as an attempt to control and influence the outcome of the elections. Supporters considered it, “the most serious duty to all loyal citizens to see that the spirit of that bill is fully complied with … Let no man vote who has been a traitor to his country – who has been so recreant to the obligations of a good citizen, that the Legislature has been compelled to guard the purity of the elective franchise against his assault.”

On election day, Daniel K. Weis, a lawyer, former state senator from Carter County, and leading community leader of Ashland who had facilitated the formation of the Kentucky, Iron, Coal & Manufacturing Co., went to the polls to vote but was promptly challenged. According to the Maysville Eagle, an “Ohio Captain, acting as Provost Marshal of Ashland, had announced that all challenged persons would be required to take a certain oath prescribed by himself, the oath being different from that required by the Election-Extradition laws of Kentucky. Mr. Weis went to the polls to vote for Union men, as he has always heretofore done, but was challenged of the ground of disloyalty. He was willing to negative on oath the propositions of the Kentucky laws, but declined to take the oath prescribed by the Ohio Captain, and the judges refused to permit him to vote.” Weis instituted a civil suit against the Judges of Election. “For this perfectly legal proceeding he was arrested and sent to the military prison at Louisville,” noted the Maysville Eagle. "On last Thursday night, D. K. Weis, of Ashland, passed down the river under arrest by the military authorities.” Within days of his arrest, Weis was released by Gen. Boyle, upon giving bond and security to the United States in the sum of $5,000, taking the oath of allegiance, and dismissing the suit against the Judges.

This specific article was researched and written by Marlitta H. Perkins, August 2011, and is under full copyright. Copyright © 2011, All Rights Reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment