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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.