Key Texts • Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 1861 • First Inaugural Address, 1861 • Message to Congress in Special Session, 1861 • Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 • The Gettysburg Address, 1863
Issues in Lincoln’s Presidency • Secession • The Test of Democratic Self-Government • Suspension of Habeas Corpus • Emancipation of the Slaves
Speech at Independence Hall, 1861 • Principles of the Declaration as the bond of the Union • America, the Declaration, and the promise of universal liberty
Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, 1861 • Reiteration of Lincoln’s pledge not to interfere with slavery in the states where it already exists. • Also, he would not object to a constitutional amendment guaranteeing slavery in the states where it already exists. • Critique of secession: • Perpetuity is implied in the fundamental law of all national governments. • Even if the United States were merely a compact, it could be unmade only with the consent of all parties. • The evidence of the Founding: • Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union • The Constitution intended to “create a more perfect Union.”
Message to Congress in Special Session, 1861 • A further critique of secession • The test of democratic government: can it preserve itself against an obstinate minority that would rather destroy the nation than accept the election’s outcome • Secession is based on a belief in the sacred sovereignty of states, but in fact they have no sovereignty except under the Constitution. • Secession is a principle of political disintegration. • Secession would break up the government, based on equality of opportunity, that has done more than any other to elevate the condition of men.
Message to Congress in Special Session, 1861 • The issue of suspension of habeas corpus • Taney’s opinion in Ex parte Merryman: The Executive Branch has no authority to suspend habeas corpus • The British background on habeas corpus • Founding-era practice • The text of the Constitution • Lincoln’s response: • Appeal to prerogative: the need to violate one law to save the whole system of laws. • The text of the Constitution: By implication, the Executive may suspend habeas corpus
Letter to Erastus Corning and others, 1863 • Criticisms of Lincoln’s use of the executive power • People have been arrested who have violated no established laws of the United States. • Habeas Corpus may be suspended only in the locality of rebellion. • Lincoln’s response: • The very purpose of suspension of habeas corpus is to permit the executive to arrest persons who have violated no law • The process of regular courts of law is “vindictive.” • Arrests made under suspension of habeas corpus are “preventive.” • The Constitution does not limit suspension to the locality of rebellion, but permits it where the public safety requires it.
Emancipation: Lincoln’s Initial Refusal to Act • Letter to O.H. Browning (1861) on Lincoln’s countermanding of Fremont’s emancipation order • The constitutional problem • The executive cannot make permanent rules of property • The political problem • Alienation of necessary support for the Union
Emancipation: Lincoln’s Initial Refusal to Act • Letter to Horace Greely (1862) • Lincoln’s policy: “I would save the Union.”
The Emancipation Proclamation • Issued on Lincoln’s authority as Commander-in-Chief • Presented as a matter of military necessity • Accordingly, limited in scope to parts of the nation in rebellion against the government • Question of Lincoln’s consistency: Is the Emancipation Proclamation consistent with the concerns in the letter to O.H. Browning?