1. What is Martial Law?
2. What Could Trigger Martial Law?
3. Life Under Martial Law
4. History of Martial Law
5. Chance of Martial Law Today?
6. How to Prepare for Martial Law?
7. How to Get Through Martial Law?
What is the first thing that comes into mind when the phrase “Martial Law” is mentioned? Do the images of tanks rolling in the streets, accompanied by fully-armed soldiers cross your mind? Do you instinctively flinch in fear at the gloomy thought that war is being fought right at your doorstep?
Martial law is an act designed to control the society as war is being fought in actual or theoretical war zones. It can also be used as a measure for when either civil unrest, nationwide emergencies or when chaos ensues throughout a country.
The order may be given by the highest-ranking military officer as he or she takes over as military governor or as the government head (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_of_government). In any case, the power that belonged to judicial, legislative and executive bodies are now transferred over. Martial law is the last counter-measure against a force that the government authorities have failed to fully contain.
Aside from the unwavering presence of obvious military force patrolling the area, there are other liberties that are compromised. Curfews are set, as is the suspension of the habeas corpus, civil rights and civil law. Most concerning yet is the fact that civilians are now subject to military justice in military grounds. Those who defy or are suspected of defying the rules set may be captured and subjected to court-martial.
In layman’s terms, Martial Law is the final resort of a country that has found itself unable to deal with a potent threat. There are actually two types- the first is a localized level in which only certain parts of the nation are affected, and the dreaded national martial law, from which everyone living in that country is now affected.
The images that we evoke in our minds when we hear the phrase “Martial Law” is true. Potentially, it is the worst nightmare we as a society can face, and one that keeps preppers on their toes. One of the main reasons is that martial law can happen anytime a man-made or a natural disaster strikes.
Consider the following examples in history where martial law was used:
– Following a massive coup d’état i.e, Thailand during 2006 and 2014
– When threatened by overwhelming public protests i.e, China and the Tiananmen Square during 1989
– Suppressing of political opposition i.e, Poland during 1981
– A wide-scale disaster such as the Yellowstone eruption and other natural emergencies
– In cases of foreign invasion, civil war, or to stabilize insurrections i.e, Canada and the October Crisis during 1970
Martial law is an option when a nation is faced with devastating natural disasters. Most government bodies however, utilize a different legal construct to what defines a state of emergency . Don’t forget that it was also imposed during occupation cases where civil governments rule over a relatively unstable population. Examples include the WW2 reconstruction in Japan and Germany, and the civil reconstruction after the U.S. civil war.
Martial law is not a pretty picture to behold. Don’t hold any illusions, because life will definitely become tougher after it becomes fully implemented.
Remember that almost everything that we are enjoying now will be suspended. Constitutional liberties and freedoms will be gone. Civilians such as you and I will no longer have basic civil rights. All that power will be transferred over to the government or to a single, tyrannical politician to wield the military force and to use it as they see fit.
Imagine if there was a scenario where martial law was declared in the U.S. The usual “State of Emergency” will be declared, and with it the following:
– Suspension of the Constitution, more notably the First and the Second Amendment.
– Suspension of the Habeas Corpus, which means anyone can go to prison without a trial and due process.
– Automatic seizures and invasive searches without needing a warrant; confiscation of firearms.
– Quarantine zones, road closures and strict travel restrictions.
In layman’s terms, you’ll see groups of military soldiers and ordinances patrolling the streets in plain view. Tanks, military choppers, high-powered rifles and other military drones will not be things that you can see in movies anymore. Basic necessities such as water and food will be confiscated, and hoarding them will become illegal. In order to get food and water, you’ll have to stand in line with the rest of the population.
Even household resources such as electricity, bath water and TV networks will be rationed and observed closely. You may be searched anytime for any reason; you may be asked to step out of your vehicle anytime. Freedom of speech and the free press will be absent as long as martial law is imposed.
It doesn’t stop there. As basic human civil rights are suspended, you can get arrested anytime for any reason, and you can’t do anything about it. You won’t have a fair trial and due process is thrown out the window. You will be at the mercy of a military court. What’s worse is that you can get executed by the police or any other military force for speaking against the government or for defending your family or friends.
National martial law in the United States was only declared once, and that was in the great Civil War. Keep in mind that the national level requires the declaration of the President or the Congress. Other than that, history has shown that martial law has been limited to states.
Use of military force was enforced in instances such as the Whiskey Rebellion and during the Civil War, but there wasn’t any declaration of martial law. Here are some more instances where martial law was enacted throughout history:
Alabama governor Patterson declared martial law on May of 1961 in order to combat the agitators coming in the state specifically to violate Alabama’s laws and customs.
Hawaii was held in December 7 1941 under martial law during WW2 and was not lifted until October 24 1944. Hawaii’s federal judges later condemned the rule stating that a military dictatorship was set up not in the island’s best interests, but to those of the army.
San Francisco 1934
Frank Merriam, governor of California during 1934 declared martial law and cited “unlawful tumult and riots” when dock workers held a strike. The National Guard was summoned to open up the docks and were able to successfully control it, averting the crisis. Furthermore, the guardsmen were given the power to make arrests or detain the employees for later court trials.
Tulsa Race Riot
The Oklahoma National Guard decreed martial law in 1921 in response to KKK members conspiring to eradicate Black Wall Street. The plan was to wipe out the business center of African Americans by jealous whites. Those who tried to flee were shot or lynched by the KKK.
Coal Wars in West Virginia
Martial law was declared for the West Virginia state when coal wars erupted in the years 1920 to 1921. Federal troops were sent by Governor Cornwell’s orders to rally up the miners who rallied. It was one of the few martial laws that was used for ostensible reasons, as the army officers used their power to jail union members. Martial law dictatorship by Governor Cornwell and the army ended with Sid Hatfield’s trial.
Colorado Coalfield War
Martial law was imposed on the climax of the Colorado Coalfield War in 1914. The decades-long conflict finally bubbled over and it was the town of Ludlow, Colorado that took the hit. As such, the Colorado National Guard was summoned to calm the protests. The shifting of National Guard opinions led to clashes and resulted in the Ludlow Massacre. American President Wilson ended the violence by sending in the federal troops.
1906 San Francisco Earthquake
Presidio troops were called to action after the great earthquake in 1906. Martial law was declared and the guards were stationed all throughout San Francisco. Dynamite was utilized to destroy buildings in the path of fire to prevent it from spreading further.
1892 Coeur d’Alene
Mine workers shot at opposing miners and destroyed a mill in the 1892 Coeur d’Alene incident in Idaho. The governor promptly called for martial law, summoned the guardsmen and requested for federal troops as well. The result was the arrest of over 600 people, which ended with the court martial of more than 20 ringleaders.
The Chicago Fire
Roswell Mason, then mayor of Chicago, declared martial law in 1871 after the Great Chicago Fire. He then ordered General Philip Sheridan to take over and put the city under control on October 9 1871. When the great fire was put out, the state of martial law was lifted in just a few days.
Ex parte Milligan
President Abraham Lincoln imposed martial law authorized by the congress on September 15 1863. The act effectively suspended habeas corpus throughout the whole of United States, declaring the suspension on spies, aiders, prisoners of war and enemy abettors. It was later challenged by the Ex parte Milligan and won as the Supreme Court ruled the martial law as unconstitutional.
The War of 1812
General Andrew Jackson declared the state of emergency in New Orleans, Lousiana during the War of 1812. He then successfully fought off the invading British, but kept the martial law active, saying he didn’t receive the official word of peace.
The American Revolution
Parliament effectively passed the Government Act of Massachusetts after the Boston Tea Party, which suppressed any and all assemblies and town meetings. It also imposed an appointed government, which is very similar to the current martial law we have today.
Martial law does have its merits, if only for a few reasons. It can be the adequate course of action when everything we know goes out the window. The only deciding factor in determining a good or bad martial law is what the government does with all that power.
It’s true that President Barack Obama is under the public scrutiny for plenty of scandals and controversies, but it all will be dwarfed when he does declare martial law. There are statements that read Barack Obama declaring the US will be better off with martial law in place; some have even speculated that Obama has put the necessary bills through the wringer.
The fears that we face are unfounded. President Barack Obama has not declared his intent to put the US under martial law. He did however, put into place bills that favor martial law. There’s an order known as the National Resources Defense Preparedness, where the government can take over a particular resource at any given moment during a state of emergency. This bill also mentions that martial law could be declared anytime under the President’s direct orders.
Preppers will be hard-pressed to prepare for such a scenario, but it’s always better to be prepared than to be caught off-guard. The best kind of defense for this type of doomsday scenario is to actively stop it from happening. Otherwise, you can start preparing for your defense and the defense of the people you love.
Let’s start with the basics of prepping. It is imperative to start stocking up on essential medicine, clean drinkable water, canned foods, survival gear and firearms. It’s a big plus if you already know some survival skills; take the time and the available courses to learn the most important ones.
Pack these things into a location that you can reach easily. The less important ones can be stashed away in a more secure location. Throw the current convention out the window and don’t stock up on electronics such as cell phones or laptop computers. It could lead you to more trouble by giving your position away, making noise or by burdening your load. They will be dead weight if an EMP attack happens, or once the batteries die out.
If you wish to survive a martial law, here’s what you need to do:
- Food. Store food that can last a long time for you, your family or friends. The more you can stock, the better.
- Water. Store potable drinking water, or buy equipment that cleans water you can collect from rainfall.
- Shelter. You’ll need a safe location to stay in. A bug out location, reinforced homes or even a portable tent will be useful if you ever need to get to the wilderness.
- Medicine. Stock up on the most useful medicines first. Don’t forget to stock on medical drugs and equipment that your family might need.
- Guns, Ammo and Survival Skills. You will need to learn how to make fire from nothing, or be able to build a shelter out of your surroundings.
- Get Fit. You’ll need all of your physical strength and capability in order to prepare fully for any impending martial law.
- Drills. Practice and simulate events that could lead to martial law. Teach your friends or family members how to evacuate quickly, bug out, or hide in an underground shelter.
Step 1. Trust No One
Protect yourself by being invulnerable to external forces. Martial law can bring out the worst in people. They will form groups or mobs to try and control the people on their own, or impersonate law enforcement for their own benefits. They could even attempt to take over a community and establish their own laws.
Step 2. Become One With Everybody Else
You’ll need to rid yourself of individuality in a temporary manner and become just like everyone else. The bottom line is, don’t stand out like a sore thumb in all aspects. Be mindful of everything you say to the public. It would probably better not to say anything at all. Avoid negative opinions and go on with daily life as if nothing is happening. Just hope that it will end one day, sooner rather than later. While this might go against your beliefs, at least you won’t be singled out or given undesirable treatment by the controlling forces in the area.
Step 3. Fight Or Flight
Everyone will be faced at one point to either fight for what they believe in, or to do everything they can to survive this cataclysmic event. You can either bug out, go in hiding, wait for all that dust to settle or fight for your liberties. It depends on whether you want to survive martial law or whether you wish to die for your liberty.
Step 4. Keep Your Mouth Shut
It cannot be stressed enough that you should keep mum about what’s happening in your country. Don’t tell absolutely anyone things that can harm you or your family. You can do this effectively by putting on a hood and keeping a low profile. Don’t needlessly expose your family, friends, relatives and your loved ones. Think carefully on what you will say before you even utter one word.
Step 5. Avoid Government Control and Monitoring
There will be cameras and surveillance. There will be armed patrols and snitches waiting to prey on someone. It would be smart if you can locate where the cameras are, then draw up a plan that exposes you to the least number of surveillance systems.
Know who is patrolling your area; keep track of their path, the times they patrol and what kind of routine they use. Find any shortcuts that could be useful, such as tunnels, railroad tracks, forest paths and side streets. You’ll need the least amount of interaction with the government troops to lessen the chances of them picking on you.