Martial law has long been mired in confusion in the United States, but that has not always stopped state and federal officials from declaring it. Indeed, the Brennan Center has identified 68 declarations of martial law across U.S. history. Our research into these events is presented in the appendix below. It accompanies our report on martial law, which delves into the history of the concept and the legal principles that govern it.
We have organized the appendix by category based on the type of event that precipitated martial law. For each entry, we have included key information about the declaration such as the date, duration, location, related litigation, and who issued it. Unfortunately, the historical use of martial law in the United States is poorly documented and under-studied. For this reason, some of the entries in the appendix are incomplete. We have also chosen to exclude any event where there is any doubt as to whether martial law was declared. For a downloadable Excel version of the appendix with sourcing, click here.
Declarations of martial law due to:
- War or Invasion (2)
- Domestic War or Insurrection (7)
- Riot or Civil Unrest (11)
- Labor Dispute (29)
- Natural Disaster (4)
- Other (15)