Who Authorized Military Force At Harpers Ferry?

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    I am interested in primary sources relating to the military response to John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry.

    I recently read an argument that Article IV Section 8 (Clause 15) of the U.S. Constitution gave the Federal Government power to make war against the Southern states when they seceded from the Union. The author cites John Brown’s raid as an example of the Federal Government using the power to suppress insurrections, suggesting the Southern states should have known what they had coming if they seceded.

    Regarding the Harpers Ferry Raid, all the commentary I have found mention President James Buchanan ordering a unit of U.S. Marines to Harpers Ferry to capture the raiders.

    Some questions I am trying to answer about this event are:

    – Did the Virginia legislature or governor request help from the federal government?

    – Did the President request Congressional approval before sending troops?

    – Since Harpers Ferry Arsenal was federal property, could the President act without Congress?

    Thanks for your help.



    Ryan, since faculty participation in the General Discussion forum is optional, I think you’d be more likely to get a response if you posted your question in the U.S. History to 1877 forum. Thanks!


    Thanks for the tip, Tom!

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