Esquire Essay

This essay has a total of 747 words and 4 pages.


Abraham Lincoln's Abuse of Power

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

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 consent of Congress. Lincoln's actions regarding habeas
corpus led to the imprisonment of physicians, lawyers, journalists, soldiers, farms,
socialites, draft resisters, and others.

The Emancipation Proclamation, although issued outside of his power, was Lincoln's only
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