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Guide to Declarations of Martial Law in the United States

Summary: Martial law has been declared at least 68 times in the United States. This guide explains when, where, and why.

Published: August 20, 2020

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

General Andrew Jackson declares martial law before the Battle of New Orleans, 1814.

Covered Area: New Orleans, Lousiana
State or Federal: Federal
Duration: December 12, 1814 - March 13, 1815 (3 months)

Precipitating Event: Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812

Declaring Authority: Gen. Andrew Jackson
Terminating Authority: Gen. Andrew Jackson

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Habeas and contempt proceedings in the federal district court in New Orleans

Notes: This was the first declaration of martial law in U.S. history.


President Franklin Roosevelt approves the declaration of martial law in Hawaii after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1941.

Covered Area: Hawaii Territory
State or Federal: Federal
Duration: December 7, 1941 - October 24, 1944 (2 years, 10 months, 17 days)

Precipitating Event: Attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II

Declaring Authority: Gov. J. B. Poindexter and Lt. Gen. Walter C. Short (declaration approved by Pres. Franklin Roosevelt)
Terminating Authority: Pres. Franklin Roosevelt

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: Proclamation No. 2627 (1944)
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Duncan v. Kahanamoku, 327 U.S. 304 (1946); Ex parte Zimmerman, 132 F.2d 442 (9th Cir. 1942), cert. denied "on the ground that the cause is moot," 319 U.S. 744 (1943); Ex parte Spurlock, 66 F. Supp. 997 (D. Haw. 1944), rev'd Steer v. Spurlock, 146 F.2d 652 (9th Cir. 1944), cert. denied "on the ground that the cause is moot," 324 U.S. 863 (1945); Ochikubo v. Bonesteel, 60 F. Supp. 916 (S.D. Cal. 1945); Kam Koon Wan v. E.E. Black, Ltd., 75 F. Supp. 553 (D. Haw. 1948)

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Domestic War or Insurrection

Rhode Island General Assembly declares martial law during the Dorr War, 1842.

Covered Area: Rhode Island
State or Federal: State 
Duration: June 25, 1842 - May 1843 (11 months)

Precipitating Event: Dorr War

Declaring Authority: Rhode Island General Assembly (Charter government)
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Notes: This was the first time that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a declaration of martial law. The state of martial law appears to have been terminated by operation of law when Rhode Island adopted a new constitution in May 1843.


Gov. Brigham Young declares martial law during the Utah War, 1857.

Covered Area: Utah Territory
State or Federal: See notes 
Duration: September 15, 1857 - June 12, 1858 (9 months)

Precipitating Event: Utah War

Declaring Authority: Gov. Brigham Young
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Notes: Although Governor Young declared martial law under color of his authority as the territorial governor, he did so in order to facilitate armed resistance to approaching federal troops. Hostilities in Utah ended on June 12, 1858, when Young accepted President James Buchanan's pardon and was removed from power. It does not appear that a formal proclamation ending martial law was ever promulgated.


Gen. John C. Fremont declares martial law in Missouri in response to the Camp Jackson Affair and a Confederate insurgency, 1861.

Covered Area: Missouri
State or Federal: Federal 
Duration: August 30, 1861 (August 14, 1861 in St. Louis only) - March 17, 1865 (4 years)

Precipitating Event: Camp Jackson Affair and ongoing Confederate insurgency during the U.S. Civil War

Declaring Authority: Gen. John C. Fremont
Terminating Authority: Gen. John Pope

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: Clark v. Dick, 5 F. Cas. 865 (C.C.D. Mo. 1870)

Notes: U.S. Army Gen. John C. Fremont declared martial law in St. Louis on August 14, 1861, and then throughout Missouri on August 30. Fremont was soon relieved of command for insubordination. His successor, Gen. Henry W. Halleck, believed that Fremont had lacked the authority to declare martial law, and he refused to enforce it until he received written authorization to do so from President Abraham Lincoln in December 1861.


Pres. Abraham Lincoln declares martial law during the U.S. Civil War, 1862.

Covered Area: United States
State or Federal: Federal 
Duration: September 24, 1862 - August 20, 1866 (4 years)

Precipitating Event: U.S. Civil War

Declaring Authority: Pres. Abraham Lincoln
Terminating Authority: Pres. Andrew Johnson

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: Proclamation 94 (1862); Proclamation 157 (1866)
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866); Ex parte Benedict, 3 F. Cas. 159 (N.D.N.Y. 1862); Ex parte Field, 9 F. Cas. 1 (C.C.D. Vt. 1862); Ex parte Vallandingham, 28 F. Cas. 874 (C.C.S.D. Ohio 1863)

Notes: Rather than declaring martial law over a particular area, Proclamation 94 applied martial law to "all rebels and insurgents, their aiders and abettors, within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia draft or guilty of any disloyal practice affording aid and comfort to rebels against the authority of the United States."


Pres. Abraham Lincoln declares martial law in Kentucky during the U.S. Civil War, 1864.

Covered Area: Kentucky
State or Federal: Federal 
Duration: July 5, 1864 - October 12, 1865 (1 year, 3 months)

Precipitating Event: U.S. Civil War

Declaring Authority: Pres. Abraham Lincoln
Terminating Authority: Pres. Andrew Johnson

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: Proclamation 113 (1864); Proclamation 146 (1865)
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


North Carolina Gov. William Holden declares martial law during the Kirk-Holden War, 1870.

Covered Area: Caswell and Alamance counties, North Carolina
State or Federal: State 
Duration: July 8, 1870 - November 10, 1870 (4 months)

Precipitating Event: Kirk-Holden War

Declaring Authority: Gov. William Holden
Terminating Authority: Gov. William Holden

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Texas Gov. Lawrence Sullivan Ross declares martial law during the Jaybird-Woodpecker War, 1889.

Covered Area: Fort Bend County, Texas
State or Federal: State 
Duration: August 16, 1889 - Unclear ("Several days")

Precipitating Event: Jaybird-Woodpecker War

Declaring Authority: Gov. Lawrence Sullivan Ross
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

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Riot or Civil Unrest

Gen. Absalom Baird declares martial law in response to the New Orleans massacre of 1866.

Covered Area: New Orleans, Louisiana
State or Federal: Federal 
Duration: July 30, 1866 - Unclear (See notes)

Precipitating Event: New Orleans massacre of 1866

Declaring Authority: See notes
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Notes: Gen. Absalom Baird initially declared martial law on July 30, 1866. President Andrew Johnson publicly disapproved of but did not overrule this decision. On August 3, the decision to impose martial law was ratified and extended by Gen. Ulysses Grant on the recommendation of Gen. Philip Sheridan, after the latter arrived in the city and determined that Baird's actions were entirely justified under the circumstances. Martial law was later ratified and extended again by President Johnson on August 7.

It is not clear when martial law ended in New Orleans. It may have continued up until 1867, when Radical Reconstruction and congressionally administered military rule began.


Gov. Watson Squire declares martial law in Seattle in response to anti-Chinese rioting, 1886.

Covered Area: Seattle, Washington Territory
State or Federal: Federal 
Duration: February 8, 1886 - February 22, 1886 (15 days)

Precipitating Event: Anti-Chinese rioting

Declaring Authority: Gov. Watson Squire
Terminating Authority: Gov. Watson Squire

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: See notes
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Notes: President Grover Cleveland issued a proclamation to disperse under the Insurrection Act on February 9. See Proclamation 275 (1886). As a result, some writers have incorrectly concluded that it was Cleveland who declared martial law.


Ohio Gov. George K. Nash declares martial law in response to the Akron riot of 1900.

Covered Area: Akron, Ohio
State or Federal: State 
Duration: August 23, 1900 - August 27, 1900 (5 days)

Precipitating Event: Akron riot of 1900

Declaring Authority: Gov. George K. Nash
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Texas Gov. James Ferguson declares martial law in response to the Houston riot of 1917.

Covered Area: Houston, Texas
State or Federal: State 
Duration: August 24, 1917 - Unclear ("Several days")

Precipitating Event: Houston riot of 1917

Declaring Authority: Gov. James Ferguson
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Texas Gov. William P. Hobby declares martial law in response to the Longview race riot of 1919.

Covered Area: Longview, Texas
State or Federal: State 
Duration: July 12, 1919 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Longview race riot of 1919

Declaring Authority: Gov. William P. Hobby
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Gen. Francis C. Marshall declares martial law after a lynch mob attempts to storm the Lexington, Kentucky courthouse, 1920.

Covered Area: Fayette County, Kentucky
State or Federal: Federal 
Duration: February 9, 1920 - February 22, 1920 (14 days)

Precipitating Event: Lynch mob attempting to storm Lexington courthouse

Declaring Authority: Gen. Francis C. Marshall
Terminating Authority: Lt. Col. George E. Maddox

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Gen. Charles Barrett declares martial law in response to the Tulsa, Oklahoma race riot, 1921.

Covered Area: Tulsa, Oklahoma
State or Federal: State 
Duration: June 1, 1921 - June 4, 1921 (4 days)

Precipitating Event: Tulsa race riot

Declaring Authority: Gen. Charles Barrett
Terminating Authority: Gen. Charles Barrett

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Ohio Gov. A. Victor Donahey declares martial law in Niles following the anti-Klan riot of 1924.

Covered Area: Niles, Ohio
State or Federal: State 
Duration: November 1, 1924 - November 11, 1924 (10 days)

Precipitating Event: Anti-Klan riot of 1924

Declaring Authority: Gov. A. Victor Donahey
Terminating Authority: Gov. A. Victor Donahey

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Texas Gov. Dan Moody declares martial law in response to the Sherman riot of 1930.

Covered Area: Sherman, Texas
State or Federal: State 
Duration: May 10, 1930 - May 24, 1930 (14 days)

Precipitating Event: Sherman riot of 1930

Declaring Authority: Gov. Dan Moody
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Acting Texas Gov. A. M. Aikin Jr. declares martial law in response to the Beaumont race riot of 1943.

Covered Area: Beaumont, Texas
State or Federal: State 
Duration: June 15, 1943 - June 20, 1943 (5 days)

Precipitating Event: Beaumont race riot of 1943

Declaring Authority: Acting Gov. A. M. Aikin Jr.
Terminating Authority: Acting Gov. A. M. Aikin Jr.

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes


Maryland Gov. J. Millard Tawes declares martial law in response to the Cambridge riot of 1963.

Covered Area: Cambridge, Maryland
State or Federal: State 
Duration: June 14, 1963 - July 8, 1964 (1 year, 1 month)

Precipitating Event: Cambridge riot of 1963

Declaring Authority: Gov. J. Millard Tawes
Terminating Authority: Gov. J. Millard Tawes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Notes: Martial law was briefly lifted between July 8 and July 13, 1963.

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Labor Dispute

Pennsylvania Gov. John Frederick Hartranft declares martial law during the Scranton general strike, 1877.

Covered Area: Scranton, Pennsylvania
State or Federal: State 
Duration: August 2, 1877 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Scranton general strike

Declaring Authority: Gov. John Frederick Hartranft
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Idaho Gov. N. B. Willey declares martial law during a violent struggle between mine operators and miners in and around Coeur D’Alene, 1892.

Covered Area: Shoshone County, Idaho
State or Federal: State 
Duration: July 11, 1892 - November 18, 1892 (4.5 months)

Precipitating Event: Violent struggle between mine operators and miners in and around Coeur D'Alene, Idaho

Declaring Authority: Gov. N. B. Willey
Terminating Authority: Gov. N. B. Willey

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Pennsylvania Gov. Robert E. Pattison declares martial law during the Homestead strike, 1892.

Covered Area: Homestead, Pennsylvania
State or Federal: State 
Duration: July 12, 1892 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Homestead strike

Declaring Authority: Gov. Robert E. Pattison
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Illinois Gov. John Riley Tanner declares martial law in Pana in response to a coal miner strike, 1898.

Covered Area: Pana, Illinois
State or Federal: State 
Duration: November 21, 1898 - November 24, 1898 (4 days)

Precipitating Event: Coal miner strike

Declaring Authority: Gov. John Riley Tanner
Terminating Authority: Gov. John Riley Tanner

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Idaho Gov. Frank Steunenberg declares martial law during a violent struggle between mine operators and the Western Federation of Miners in and around Coeur D’Alene, 1899.

Covered Area: Shoshone County, Idaho
State or Federal: State 
Duration: May 4, 1899 - April 11, 1901 (2 years)

Precipitating Event: Violent struggle between mine operators and Western Federation of Miners in and around Coeur D'Alene, Idaho

Declaring Authority: Gov. Frank Steunenberg
Terminating Authority: Gov. Frank Hunt

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: In re Boyle, 6 Idaho 609 (Idaho 1899)


Pennsylvania Gov. William Stone declares martial law in several counties during the coal strike of 1902.

Covered Area: Luzerne, Schuylkill, Carbon, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Northumberland, and Columbia counties, Pennsylvania
State or Federal: State 
Duration: October 6, 1902 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Coal strike of 1902

Declaring Authority: Gov. William Stone
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: Commonwealth ex rel. Wadsworth v. Shortall, 206 Pa. 165 (Pa. 1903)

Notes: In Shortall, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered the order deploying the National Guard to be a declaration of "qualified martial law."


Gov. James Peabody declares martial law in Teller County during the Colorado labor wars, 1903.

Covered Area: Teller County, Colorado
State or Federal: State 
Duration: December 4, 1903 - February 2, 1904 (1 month, 28 days)

Precipitating Event: Colorado labor wars

Declaring Authority: Gov. James Peabody
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: Moyer v. Peabody, 212 U.S. 78 (1909); In re Moyer, 85 Pac. Rep. 190 (Colo. 1904)


Gov. James Peabody declares martial law in San Miguel County during the Colorado labor wars, January 1904.

Covered Area: San Miguel County, Colorado
State or Federal: State 
Duration: January 4, 1904 - March 13, 1904 (2 months, 9 days)

Precipitating Event: Colorado labor wars

Declaring Authority: Gov. James Peabody
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: Moyer v. Peabody, 212 U.S. 78 (1909); In re Moyer, 85 Pac. Rep. 190 (Colo. 1904)


Gov. James Peabody declares martial law again in San Miguel County during the Colorado labor wars, March 1904.

Covered Area: San Miguel County, Colorado
State or Federal: State 
Duration: March 23, 1904 - June 15, 1904 (2 months, 23 days)

Precipitating Event: Colorado labor wars

Declaring Authority: Gov. James Peabody
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: Moyer v. Peabody, 212 U.S. 78 (1909); In re Moyer, 85 Pac. Rep. 190 (Colo. 1904)


Gov. James Peabody declares martial law in Las Animas County during the Colorado labor wars, March 1904.

Covered Area: Las Animas County, Colorado
State or Federal: State 
Duration: March 23, 1904 - June 6, 1904 (2 months, 14 days)

Precipitating Event: Colorado labor wars

Declaring Authority: Gov. James Peabody
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: Moyer v. Peabody, 212 U.S. 78 (1909); In re Moyer, 85 Pac. Rep. 190 (Colo. 1904)


West Virginia Gov. William E. Glasscock declares martial law during the Paint Creek–Cabin Creek Strike of 1912.

Covered Area: Paint Creek and Cabin Creek, West Virginia
State or Federal: State 
Duration: September 2, 1912 - October 15, 1912 (1.5 months)

Precipitating Event: Paint Creek–Cabin Creek Strike of 1912

Declaring Authority: Gov. William E. Glasscock
Terminating Authority: Gov. William E. Glasscock

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: State ex rel. Mays v. Brown & State ex rel. Nance v. Brown, 71 W.Va. 519 (W. Va. 1912); Ex parte Jones, 71 W.Va. 567 (W. Va. 1913)


West Virginia Gov. William E. Glasscock declares martial law again during the Paint Creek–Cabin Creek Strike of 1912.

Covered Area: Paint Creek and Cabin Creek, West Virginia
State or Federal: State 
Duration: November 15, 1912 - January 10, 1913 (2 months)

Precipitating Event: Paint Creek–Cabin Creek Strike of 1912

Declaring Authority: Gov. William E. Glasscock
Terminating Authority: Gov. William E. Glasscock

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: State ex rel. Mays v. Brown & State ex rel. Nance v. Brown, 71 W.Va. 519 (W. Va. 1912); Ex parte Jones, 71 W.Va. 567 (W. Va. 1913)


West Virginia Gov. William E. Glasscock declares martial law after the Bull Moose Special attack on the Holly Grove miners’ settlement, 1913.

Covered Area: Paint Creek and Cabin Creek, West Virginia
State or Federal: State 
Duration: February 10, 1913 - June 13, 1913 (4 months)

Precipitating Event: Paint Creek–Cabin Creek Strike of 1912

Declaring Authority: Gov. William E. Glasscock
Terminating Authority: Gov. Henry D. Hatfield

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Hatfield v. Graham, 73 W.Va. 759 (W. Va. 1914)


Indiana Gov. Samuel Ralston declares martial law during the Indianapolis streetcar strike of 1913.

Covered Area: Indianapolis, Indiana
State or Federal: State 
Duration: November 4, 1913 - November 7, 1913 (3 days)

Precipitating Event: Indianapolis streetcar strike of 1913

Declaring Authority: Gov. Samuel Ralston
Terminating Authority: Gov. Samuel Ralston

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Montana Gov. Samuel Stewart declares martial law after the dynamiting of the Butte Miners’ Union, 1914.

Covered Area: Butte, Montana
State or Federal: State 
Duration: September 1, 1914 - November 12, 1914

Precipitating Event: Dynamiting of the Butte Miners’ Union

Declaring Authority: Gov. Samuel Stewart
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Ex parte McDonald, 143 Pac. 94 (Mont. 1914)


Gen. Leonard Wood declares martial law in Gary, Indiana in response to the steel strike of 1919.

Covered Area: Gary, Indiana
State or Federal: Federal 
Duration: October 6, 1919 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Steel strike of 1919

Declaring Authority: Gen. Leonard Wood
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Texas Gov. William P. Hobby declares martial law in response to the Galveston Longshoremen’s Strike, 1920.

Covered Area: Galveston, Texas
State or Federal: State 
Duration: June 7, 1920 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Galveston Longshoremen's Strike

Declaring Authority: Gov. William P. Hobby
Terminating Authority: Gov. William P. Hobby

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: United States v. Wolters, 268 F. 69 (S.D. Tex. 1920)


Gov. John Cornwell declares martial law in Mingo County during the West Virginia coal wars, 1920.

Covered Area: Mingo County, West Virginia
State or Federal: State 
Duration: November 27, 1920 - February 16, 1921 (2 months, 17 days)

Precipitating Event: West Virginia coal wars

Declaring Authority: Gov. John Cornwell
Terminating Authority: Gov. John Cornwell

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Gov. Ephraim P. Morgan declares martial law in Mingo County during the West Virginia coal wars, 1921.

Covered Area: Mingo County, West Virginia
State or Federal: State 
Duration: May 19, 1921 - October 7, 1922 (15 months)

Precipitating Event: West Virginia coal wars

Declaring Authority: Gov. Ephraim P. Morgan
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: Ex parte Lavinder, 88 W.Va. 713 (W.Va. 1921)

Notes: In Lavinder, the West Virginia Supreme Court partially invalidated Governor Morgan's declaration of martial law. Morgan then issued a "supplemental" proclamation on June 27, 1922; this "supplemental" imposition of martial law was rescinded on October 7, 1922.


Nebraska Gov. Samuel McKelvie declares martial law in Nebraska City in response to a packing plant strike, 1922.

Covered Area: Nebraska City, Nebraska
State or Federal: State 
Duration: January 27, 1922 - February 16, 1922 (20 days)

Precipitating Event: Packing plant strike

Declaring Authority: Gov. Samuel McKelvie
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: United States v. Fischer, 280 F. 208 (D. Neb. 1922)


Minnesota Gov. Floyd B. Olson declares martial law in response to the Minneapolis general strike of 1934.

Covered Area: Minneapolis, Minnesota
State or Federal: State 
Duration: July 26, 1934 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Minneapolis general strike of 1934

Declaring Authority: Gov. Floyd B. Olson
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: Powers Mercantile Co. v. Olson, 7 F. Supp. 865 (D. Minn. 1934)


Rhode Island Gov. Theodore Green declares martial law in Saylesville in response to the textile workers strike of 1934.

Covered Area: Saylesville, Rhode Island
State or Federal: State 
Duration: September 11, 1934 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Textile workers strike of 1934

Declaring Authority: Gov. Theodore Green
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Georgia Gov. Eugene Talmadge declares martial law in response to the textile workers strike of 1934.

Covered Area: Georgia
State or Federal: State 
Duration: September 15, 1934 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Textile workers strike of 1934

Declaring Authority: Gov. Eugene Talmadge
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Welch v. State, 53 Ga. App. 255 (Ga. Ct. App. 1936)


Georgia Gov. Eugene Talmadge declares martial law in LaGrange in response to a textile workers strike, 1935.

Covered Area: LaGrange, Georgia
State or Federal: State 
Duration: March 4, 1935 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Follow up strike to 1934 textile workers strike

Declaring Authority: Gov. Eugene Talmadge
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Nebraska Gov. Robert L. Cochran declares martial law during the Omaha tram strike, 1935.

Covered Area: Omaha, Nebraska
State or Federal: State 
Duration: June 15, 1935 - June 21, 1935 (6 days)

Precipitating Event: Omaha tram strike

Declaring Authority: Gov. Robert L. Cochran
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Notes: This was a relatively unusual instance in which the state governor did not take the side of property against labor, but instead used martial law to end the violence and force the tram companies to arbitrate.


Indiana Gov. Paul V. McNutt declares martial law in Terre Haute in response to the General Strike of 1935.

Covered Area: Vigo County, Indiana
State or Federal: State 
Duration: July 22, 1935 - February 10, 1936 (6 months, 19 days)

Precipitating Event: General Strike of 1935 (Terre Haute)

Declaring Authority: Gov. Paul V. McNutt
Terminating Authority: Gov. Paul V. McNutt

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: Cox v. McNutt, 12 F. Supp. 355 (S.D. Ind. 1935)


Iowa Gov. Nelson Krashel declares martial law in Newton in response to the 1938 Maytag Corporation labor dispute.

Covered Area: Newton, Iowa
State or Federal: State 
Duration: July 20, 1938 - August 19, 1938 (30 days)

Precipitating Event: 1938 Maytag Corporation labor dispute

Declaring Authority: Gov. Nelson Krashel
Terminating Authority: Gov. Nelson Krashel

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: State v. Sentner, 230 Iowa 590 (Iowa 1941)


Oklahoma Gov. E. W. Marland declares martial law in Tulsa in response to a strike at the Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation, 1938.

Covered Area: Tulsa, Oklahoma
State or Federal: State 
Duration: December 24, 1938 - May 14, 1939 (4 months, 21 days)

Precipitating Event: Strike at Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation

Declaring Authority: Gov. E. W. Marland
Terminating Authority: Gov. Leon Phillips

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Minnesota Gov. Orville L. Freeman declares martial law in Freeborn County in response to a meat-packing workers strike, 1959.

Covered Area: Freeborn County, Minnesota
State or Federal: State 
Duration: December 11, 1959 - December 22, 1959 (11 days)

Precipitating Event: Meat-packing workers strike in Albert Lea, Minnesota

Declaring Authority: Gov. Orville L. Freeman
Terminating Authority: U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: Wilson & Co. v. Freeman, 179 F. Supp. 520 (D. Minn. 1959)

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Natural Disaster

Mayor R. B. Mason declares martial law after the Great Chicago Fire, 1871.

Covered Area: Chicago, Illinois
State or Federal: State 
Duration: October 11, 1871 - October 23, 1871 (13 days)

Precipitating Event: Great Chicago Fire

Declaring Authority: Mayor R. B. Mason
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Notes: Gen. Philip Sheridan requested permission from Mayor Roswell B. Mason to withdraw troops on October 23rd, and did so on October 24th.


Mayor Walter C. Jones declares martial law after the Great Galveston hurricane, 1900.

Covered Area: Galveston, Texas
State or Federal: State 
Duration: September 11, 1900 - September 21, 1900 (8–9 days)

Precipitating Event: Great Galveston hurricane

Declaring Authority: Mayor Walter C. Jones
Terminating Authority: Mayor Walter C. Jones

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: 43 African Americans tried by court martial, convicted, and ordered shot


Florida Gov. W. S. Jennings declares martial law in Jacksonville after the Great Fire of 1901.

Covered Area: Jacksonville, Florida
State or Federal: State 
Duration: May 5, 1901 - May 16, 1901 (14 days)

Precipitating Event: Great Fire of 1901

Declaring Authority: Gov. W. S. Jennings
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Gen. George H. Wood declares martial law after the Great Dayton Flood, 1913.

Covered Area: Dayton, Ohio
State or Federal: State 
Duration: March 27, 1913 - May 6, 1913 (1 month)

Precipitating Event: Great Fire of 1901

Declaring Authority: Brig. Gen. George H. Wood
Terminating Authority: Gov. James M. Cox

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

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Other

Congress imposes martial law on the former Confederacy as part of Radical Reconstruction, 1867.

Covered Area: States of the former Confederacy, except Tennessee
State or Federal: Federal 
Duration: March 2, 1867 - July 15, 1870 (3 years, 4 months)

Precipitating Event: Radical Reconstruction

Declaring Authority: 40th Congress
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Ex parte McCardle, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 506 (1869)

Notes: In 1867, Congress placed the states of the former Confederacy — except Tennessee, which had already been readmitted to the Union — under military rule until they fulfilled the requirements to be readmitted to the Union. Georgia was the last state to be readmitted, in 1870.


Oklahoma Gov. John C. Walton declares martial law while challenging Ku Klux Klan activity and resisting a KKK-led impeachment, 1923.

Covered Area: Oklahoma
State or Federal: State 
Duration: September 16, 1923 (June 26, 1923 in Okmulgee County; August 14, 1923 in Tulsa) - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Challenging Ku Klux Klan activity in Oklahoma and resisting KKK-led impeachment

Declaring Authority: Gov. John C. Walton
Terminating Authority: Gov. John C. Walton

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Yes

Related Litigation: Sanford v. Markham, 1923 OK 1095 (Okla. 1923)


Oklahoma Gov. William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray declares martial law during the Red River Bridge War, 1931.

Covered Area: A section of Oklahoma's border with Texas
State or Federal: State 
Duration: July 24, 1931 - August 6, 1931 (13 days)

Precipitating Event: Red River Bridge War

Declaring Authority: Gov. William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray
Terminating Authority: Gov. William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Notes: Governor Murray is said to have declared martial law more than 30 times during his tenure as governor. Only the six declarations listed in this document could be independently confirmed.


Oklahoma Gov. William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray declares martial law during a nonviolent dispute between the state government and oil producers over oil production limits, 1931.

Covered Area: Oklahoma oil fields
State or Federal: State 
Duration: August 4, 1931 - October 10, 1931 (2 months)

Precipitating Event: Nonviolent dispute between state government and oil producers over oil production limits

Declaring Authority: Gov. William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray
Terminating Authority: Gov. William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: Russel Petroleum Co. v. Walker, 162 Okla. 216 (Okla. 1933); Champlin Refining Co. v. Corporation Com'n of State of Okla., et al., 286 U.S. 210 (1932)


Texas Gov. R. S. Sterling declares martial law during a dispute over oil production limits between the state government and the federal courts, 1931.

Covered Area: Several counties in Texas
State or Federal: State 
Duration: August 17, 1931 - December 12, 1932 (15 months, 26 days)

Precipitating Event: Nonviolent dispute over oil production limits between state government and both oil producers and the federal courts

Declaring Authority: Gov. R. S. Sterling
Terminating Authority: U.S. Supreme Court (de facto)

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: Sterling v. Constantin, 287 U.S. 378 (1932)

Notes: In Sterling, the Supreme Court enjoined Texas from using martial law, military force, or any other means to enforce the oil production regulation at the center of the dispute. However, the Court did not formally invalidate the governor's declaration of martial law.


Oklahoma Gov. William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray declares martial law during a nonviolent dispute between the state government and oil producers over oil production limits, May 1932.

Covered Area: Oklahoma oil fields
State or Federal: State 
Duration: May 26, 1932 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Nonviolent dispute between state government and oil producers over oil production limits

Declaring Authority: Gov. William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Oklahoma Gov. William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray declares martial law during a nonviolent dispute between the state government and oil producers over oil production limits, June 1932.

Covered Area: Oklahoma oil fields
State or Federal: State 
Duration: June 21, 1932 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Nonviolent dispute between state government and oil producers over oil production limits

Declaring Authority: Gov. William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Oklahoma Gov. William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray declares martial law during a nonviolent dispute between the state government and oil producers over oil production limits, 1933.

Covered Area: Oklahoma oil fields
State or Federal: State 
Duration: March 4, 1933 - April 10, 1933 (37 days)

Precipitating Event: Nonviolent dispute between state government and oil producers over oil production limits

Declaring Authority: Gov. William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear


Oklahoma Gov. William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray declares martial law as part of an attempt to force Oklahoma City to create “segregation zones,” 1933.

Covered Area: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
State or Federal: State 
Duration: May 1, 1933 - See notes

Precipitating Event: Attempt to force Oklahoma City to create "segregation zones"

Declaring Authority: Gov. William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? Unclear

Related Litigation: Allen v. Oklahoma City, 175 Okla. 421 (Okla. 1935)

Notes: As the Oklahoma Supreme Court explained in Allen, Governor Murray declared martial law in order to create "segregation zones" in Oklahoma City. The duration of his order was such that martial law would expire when the city adopted its own "segregation ordinance." The court held that both the declaration of martial law and the segregation ordinance adopted by Oklahoma City were illegal.


Georgia Gov. Eugene Talmadge declares martial law as part of his “coup de highway department,” 1933.

Covered Area: In and around Highway Board of Georgia headquarters building
State or Federal: State 
Duration: June 19, 1933 - July 29, 1933 (39 days)

Precipitating Event: "Coup de highway department" by state governor

Declaring Authority: Gov. Eugene Talmadge
Terminating Authority: Gov. Eugene Talmadge

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Arizona Gov. Benjamin Moeur declares martial law in response to a federal effort to prevent construction of the Grand River Dam, 1934.

Covered Area: Area around the Grand River Dam in Arizona
State or Federal: State 
Duration: November 10, 1934 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Federal government effort to prevent construction of Grand River Dam

Declaring Authority: Gov. Benjamin Moeur
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: United States v. Arizona, 295 U.S. 174 (1935)


Oklahoma Gov. E. W. Marland declares martial law during a dispute over drilling for oil on the grounds of the state capitol building, 1936.

Covered Area: Around the state capitol building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
State or Federal: State 
Duration: Early April 1936 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Dispute over drilling for oil on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol building

Declaring Authority: Gov. E. W. Marland
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No


Rhode Island Gov. Emmitt Quinn declares martial law in Pawtucket during a dispute over the operation of race tracks, 1937.

Covered Area: Area around Narragansett Park in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
State or Federal: State 
Duration: October 17, 1937 - Unclear

Precipitating Event: Dispute over operation of race tracks

Declaring Authority: Gov. Emmitt Quinn
Terminating Authority: Unclear

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: Narragansett Racing Ass'n v. Kiernan, 59 R.I. 79 (R.I. 1937); Narragansett Racing Ass'n v. Kiernan, 59 R.I. 90 (R.I. 1937)


Georgia Gov. E. D. Rivers declares martial law as part of his attempted “coup de highway department,” 1939.

Covered Area: In and around Highway Board of Georgia headquarters building
State or Federal: State 
Duration: December 18, 1939 - See notes

Precipitating Event: Attempted "coup de highway department" by state governor

Declaring Authority: Gov. E. D. Rivers
Terminating Authority: See notes

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: Miller v. Rivers, 31 F. Supp. 540 (M.D. Ga. 1940), rev'd as moot, 112 F.2d 439 (5th Cir. 1940); Patten v. Miller, 190 Ga. 123 (Ga. 1940); Patten v. Miller, 190 Ga. 105 (Ga. 1940); Patten v. Miller, 190 Ga. 152 (Ga. 1940)

Notes: Governor Rivers's imposition of martial law was the subject of extensive litigation. It was enjoined by both state and federal courts, but Rivers did not concede defeat until the Georgia Supreme Court ruled against him on April 10, 1940. It is unclear if or when he formally rescinded the declaration of martial law.


Oklahoma Gov. Leon C. Phillips declares martial law in an effort to prevent the completion and operation of the Grand River Dam, 1940.

Covered Area: Area around the Grand River Dam in Oklahoma
State or Federal: State 
Duration: March 13, 1940 - February 21, 1941 (11 months)

Precipitating Event: Effort to prevent completion and operation of Grand River Dam

Declaring Authority: Gov. Leon C. Phillips
Terminating Authority: Gov. Leon C. Phillips

Relevant Presidential Proclamations or Executive Orders: None
Civilians Tried by Military Tribunal? No

Related Litigation: "United States v. Phillips, 33 F. Supp. 261 (N.D. Okla. 1940), vacated on other grounds, 312 U.S. 246 (1941). State of Okla. v. United States, 173 F. Supp. 349, 350 (Ct. Cl. 1959) (describing events after Supreme Court ruling)."

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