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Guide to Invocations of the Insurrection Act

In 230 years, the Act has been invoked in response to 30 crises.

Published: April 25, 2022

The Insur­rec­tion Act allows the pres­id­ent to deploy the milit­ary inside the United States and use it against Amer­ic­ans, making it one of the exec­ut­ive branch’s most potent emer­gency powers. It is also one of the oldest — today’s Insur­rec­tion Act can be traced all the way to the Call­ing Forth Act of 1792. In the 230 years since then, the Insur­rec­tion Act has been invoked in response to 30 crises. The guide below presents key inform­a­tion about each incid­ent, includ­ing the date, the pres­id­ent who invoked the Act, the area that was affected, and a descrip­tion of what precip­it­ated the Act’s invoc­a­tion.

As the guide shows, invoc­a­tion of the Insur­rec­tion Act has not always led to the actual deploy­ment of troops. Some­times the mere threat of milit­ary inter­ven­tion has been enough to resolve a crisis. On the oppos­ite end of the spec­trum, in some cases, the Act has been invoked multiple times in response to a single event. The guide presents these latter incid­ents as single entries but includes cita­tions to all relev­ant pres­id­en­tial proclam­a­tions that invoked the Act. Lastly, the guide also includes three events (high­lighted) that are often regarded as uses of the Insur­rec­tion Act even though the require­ments of the law were not followed.

To down­load an Excel version of the guide with sourcing, click here.