To Prevent Citizens From Voting
John A. Marshall


Akron Morton, a citizen of Maytown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is a brickmaker by occupation. At the commencement of the late civil war, he volunteered as a private in Company A, 10th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, in response to the first call of President Lincoln for troops. He served his time faithfully, and was honorably discharged. During the summer of 1864, Mr. Morton was drafted, but in common with several others - both Republicans and Democrats - failed to report at Lancaster city, in answer to his summons. Subsequently his township (East Donnegal) filled its quota with recruits, thereby exempting its drafted men.

He remained at home, "pursuing the even tenor of his way," until Monday, November 7, 1864, when Deputy Marshal Carpenter, of Lancaster, aided by two soldiers, arrested him. The Marshal said that he must accompany them to Marshal Stevens's office, in the above-named city. Morton demanded his authority for making the arrest, and further inquired the nature of the charges against him. The Marshal failing to produce any warrant or authority, Morton denied his right to drag him from his home. Carpenter insisted that his being an United States Deputy Marshal gave him sufficient authority to make the arrest, and forced him to comply with his mandate. Morton accompanied him peaceably, but under protest. On arriving at Provost Marshal Stevens's office, in Lancaster, he was placed under a guard, and removed thence to the County Prison. While there confined, he was offered convict's fare, bread and water, but declined it, and paid the usual charges for board. The jailer afterward remarked: "That is the place where all Democrats should be." He subsequently inquired of the prisoner if, on his procuring his release, he would vote the Republican ticket. Mr. Morton indignantly spurned the proposal, and remained in prison until the 10th inst., when several of his friends demanded his release, or a hearing. Stevens feigned ignorance of his arrest, and ordered his immediate discharge. When the prisoner was brought into his (Stevens's) office, the Marshal simply said, "You can now go home, we have nothing to do with you." Carpenter then turned toward Mr. Morton and remarked, that "if he had no money he could walk to his home," (sixteen miles distant,) "as it was not very far."


Jacob G. Peck, a fellow-townsman of Mr. Morton, was sought for on the same day, but was not at home, and thereby escaped a few days' incarceration; it not being the intention of those in authority to hold them longer than a few days, as will be seen in the sequel.


Benjamin H. Markley, of the same place, while in the act of voting at the Presidential election, on Tuesday, November 8, 1864, was touched on the arm by Deputy Marshal Middleton Whitehall, and claimed as a prisoner. The Marshal was anxious to hurry him away from the polls, but was prevented, he being unable to show any authority for the arrest. After Markley had voted, Messrs. George Wilson, Henry Haines, Henry Houseal, and other old and respected citizens, requested Whitehall, if he had authority for making the arrest, to take the prisoner with him, and assuring him that he should not be molested in the execution of his duty. This offer he declined, and left the town shortly afterward.

The constable of Maytown, in his next return to the Court at Lancaster, reported a disturbance of the peace at the election polls in Maytown, on Tuesday, November 8, 1864, by Middleton Whitehall. But when the charge subsequently came before the Grand Jury, the bill was ignored; thereby sustaining men in committing outrages in direct defiance of the laws.


The fourth case we have to chronicle is that of Henry Lynch, of Marietta. He was arrested by Carpenter, on the same day, and for the same purpose as the others. He was charged with being a deserter, which charge, unsustained as it was, furnished the necessary excuse for his arrest. He was conveyed to Lancaster and incarcerated with Mr. Morton in the County Prison, where he remained until the 10th, when he was released unconditionally. Nothing was afterward said to him about being a deserter. The charge had answered the purpose of his arrest, and that was sufficient for the perpetrators of the outrage.

These premeditated arrests had but one direct purpose - to prevent citizens from voting. These were but the victims of the executed portion of a plot for the arrest and imprisonment of a number of other citizens named on the proscription lists. These gentlemen were known to be staunch and sterling Democrats, and so determined was the Marshal to serve his master, that no step was too vile for him to take in order to accomplish his end. His little soul being unable to conceive of any other method, he determined to deprive the above-named gentlemen of their votes, by arresting and imprisoning them, until after the election. But "time, that makes all things even," vindicates the innocent, rewards the persecuted, and inevitably punishes the persecutor.


American Bastile, A History of the Illegal Arrests and Imprisonment of American Citizens During the Late Civil War
by John A. Marshall, pages 629-631
Thomas W. Hartley, Philadelphia, Twenty-Third Edition, 1877