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The Habeas Corpus Case of Capt. McDonald.


May 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, May 15, 1861.

THE HABEAS CORPUS CASE OF CAPT. MCDONALD.—Captain Emmet Macdonald, later of Camp Jackson, and still later of the Arsenal, will probably command a large share of public attention.  Alone, of all his comrades, he refused to accept of his liberty upon the terms offered, of taking anew the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States.  He was, therefore, as is well known, alone retained a prisoner.  His friends, therefore, resorted—as stated by as yesterday—to an application for a writ of habeas corpus, and an examination before Judge Treat of the U. S. District Court.  The Judge yesterday noon responded by causing an issue of the required writ, making it returnable by 11 o’clock this morning.

Capt. Macdonald’s counsel are Messrs. Uriel Wright, L. M. Shreve, and J. R. Barret.  The Captain has also a brother who is a lawyer, and other relatives and friends who probably will do all that can be done in his behalf.  The affidavit on which application was first made, was certified to by Justice Pack, but the U. S. Judge decided that the ’Squire’s jurisdiction being purely a State one, could not be exercised with reference to a prisoner in custody of the U. S. authority at the Arsenal.  Commissioner Hickman was accordingly procured yesterday morning to proceed to the Arsenal to certify to Capt. Macdonald’s affidavit.  In company with the Captain’s brother he was admitted to the Arsenal, and had an interview with General Lyon, who said that Capt. Macdonald was a prisoner of war, and, moreover, was not now in Missouri.  Unable to find him, the Commissioner, as in such case authorized by law, attested the affidavit of the prisoner’s brother, and the application for the writ was thus made legal.

Marshal Rawlings will probably proceed with the writ to the Arsenal at 10 a. m. to-day.  What response will be made to the requisition, remains to be seen.

It is conjectured that the prisoner was taken across the river Monday night, and is now en route for, or has arrived at some other U. S. Military post.

Capt. Macdonald is well known to sympathize frankly with the secession side.  It would be singular if his convictions on the subject were stronger than those of others who gave the required pledge and were set at liberty.  As his conduct was worthier, we doubt not that his lot will be happier than theirs.  But we trust that reflection, and the course of events, will make a good Union man of Capt. Macdonald.