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Abraham Lincoln's Abuse of Power

Uploaded by christina_cloud9 on Mar 03, 2002

Lincoln's use of executive authority during the civil war is many times illegal and unjust; although his issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation may seem justified, Lincoln blatantly abused his power regarding civil rights. He did things like institute an unfair draft, suspend Constitutional rights, allocate military spending without Congress, and institute emancipation. Although some may justify these actions, they stomped on the Constitution.

Lincoln found powers in the constitutional clause making him "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states." He said that because of this clause, he had the right to use any means necessary to defeat the enemy. With this justification, he issued many executive orders before Congress even convened. Lincoln summoned the militia, ordered a blockade of the Confederacy ports, expanded the regular army beyond its legal limit, and directed government funds before congressional allocation. of these powers were granted to him in the Constitution.

Lincoln also abused his power with the draft. Prior to the draft, the Union depended on the states to fill assigned quotas with volunteers. But then Lincoln instituted a new draft. By its terms, all men between the ages of 20 and 45 were liable to military service. However, any man who was called for the draft could avoid it by hiring a substitute or paying $300 dollars to the government. Many groups rightfully denounced these acts, called the conscription acts, as a rich man's law. Indeed, many wealthy men were able to bribe poorer men into taking their place in

The most blatant abuse of Lincoln's power was his suspension of habeas corpus. The suspension of this constitutional guarantee, by which a person could not be imprisoned indefinitely without being charges with some specific crime, around much opposition throughout the country. Although Lincoln himself made no concentrated efforts to suppress political oppositions, the repeal of habeas corpus enabled overzealous civil and military authorities to imprison thousands of people who were vocal in their opposition to the war against the South. During the war, in the case Ex parte Merryman, Chief Justice Taney ordered Lincoln to grant a writ of habeas corpus to a Southern agitator who had been arbitrarily jailed by military authorities in Maryland. Lincoln ignored the order. After the war, in the case Ex parte Milligan, the Supreme Court ruled that president could not suspend habeas corpus without the...

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Uploaded by:   christina_cloud9

Date:   03/03/2002

Category:   Civil War

Length:   3 pages (732 words)

Views:   2965

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