One hundred fifty years ago today President Abraham Lincoln wrote General Winfield Scott about what he should do when the Maryland legislature met in Annapolis. While Lincoln had “considered… whether it would not be justifiable… to arrest, or disperse the members of that body,” he concluded that such action “would not be justifiable” since “they have a clearly legal right to assemble.” In addition, Lincoln noted that the United States Government could “not permanently prevent” the Maryland legislature from meeting. If arrested, Lincoln believed that upon their release from prison “they will immediately re-assemble, and take their action.” Yet if the Maryland legislature met and took action against the United States, Lincoln authorized General Scott to respond with force. If Maryland “arm[ed] their people against the United States,” Lincoln instructed Scott “to adopt the most prompt, and efficient means to counteract it, even, if necessary, to the bombardment of their cities.” In addition, Lincoln was also prepared to authorize “the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus” in Maryland. You can read more about the political situation in Maryland in David Detzer’s Dissonance: The Turbulent Days Between Fort Sumter and Bull Run (2006) and in Chapter 23 of Michael Burlingame’s Abraham Lincoln: A Life (2008).