Henry May (American politician)

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Henry May
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 5th district
In office
1853–1855
Preceded by Alexander Evans
Succeeded by Henry William Hoffman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 4th district
In office
1861–1863
Preceded by Henry Winter Davis
Succeeded by Francis Thomas
Personal details
Born (1816-02-13)February 13, 1816
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Died September 25, 1866(1866-09-25) (aged 50)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Resting place Cathedral Cemetery
Political party Democratic

Henry May (February 13, 1816 – September 25, 1866) was a U.S. Representative from Maryland.

Born in Washington, D.C., May pursued an academic course. He attended Columbian College (later George Washington University), Washington, D.C.. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1840, and commenced practice. May was sent by President Franklin Pierce to Mexico to investigate claims under the United States' treaty of peace with Mexico. He moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1850.

May was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-third Congress (March 4, 1853 – March 3, 1855). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1854 to the Thirty-fourth Congress, but was elected as a Unionist to the Thirty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1863).

May sat in the special session of Congress held in summer 1861 after the outbreak of the Civil War.[1] In September 1861 May was arrested without charges or recourse to habeas corpus on suspicion of treason and held in Fort Lafayette.[2][3] (Lincoln had unilaterally suspended habeas in Maryland in spring 1861, a move ruled unconstitutional without Congressional authorization in June 1861 by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney speaking for the federal circuit court of Maryland in ex parte Merryman, a ruling which Lincoln disregarded.) May was eventually released—no charges were ever brought or evidence produced—and returned to his seat in Congress in December 1861. In March 1862 he introduced a bill requiring the federal government to either indict by grand jury or release all other "political prisoners" held indefinitely without recourse to habeas.[4] The provisions of May's bill were included in the March 1863 Habeas Corpus Act in which Congress finally authorized Lincoln to suspend habeas corpus, but required actual indictments for suspected traitors.[5] The "political prisoners" affected included Baltimore newspaper editor, and vocal Lincoln critic, Frank Key Howard, who had been a co-prisoner with May, and was also a grand-nephew of Chief Justice Taney's wife Anne Key, (Francis Scott Key's sister).[6]

In 1862 Henry May and Ohio Congressman Clement Vallandigham, an anti-war Democrat, led an investigation into telegraphic censorship of the press instituted by Lincoln's Secretary of State William H. Seward in certain cities.[7]

He died in Baltimore, and is interred in Cathedral Cemetery.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Allan G. Bogue, "The Congressman's Civil War", Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  2. ^ The Bastille in America; or Democratic Absolutism. London: Robert Hardwicke, 1861, p. 12.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Charles W., ed. Maryland Voices of the Civil War. JHU Press, 2007, p. 237.
  4. ^ Jonathan White, "Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War: The Trials of John Merryman", LSU Press, 2011. p. 106
  5. ^ Jonathan White, "Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War: The Trials of John Merryman", LSU Press, 2011. p. 107
  6. ^ Howard, F. K. (Frank Key) (1863). Fourteen Months in American Bastiles. London: H.F. Mackintosh. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Allan G. Bogue, "The Congressman's Civil War", Cambridge University Press, 1989. p. 65

References[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Alexander Evans
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 5th congressional district

1853–1855
Succeeded by
Henry William Hoffman
Preceded by
Henry Winter Davis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 4th congressional district

1861–1863
Succeeded by
Francis Thomas

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.