Presentation on theme: "Lincoln’s Presidency An Online Professional Development Seminar."— Presentation transcript:
Lincoln’s Presidency An Online Professional Development Seminar
GOALS To deepen understanding of the critical decisions Abraham Lincoln made as a war-time president To provide fresh approaches and materials with which to teach Lincoln’s presidency
FROM THE FORUM Challenges, Issues, Questions Deeper knowledge beyond the highlights: Lincoln-Douglas Debates, election as a cause of the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the assassination How did Lincoln’s views on slavery and emancipation evolve? Was Lincoln justified in suspending civil liberties during the Civil War? Did he violate the Constitution as commander-in-chief? What accounts for his ongoing popularity?
Matthew Pinsker Associate Professor of History, Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History Dickinson College Research focuses on the career of Abraham Lincoln, partisanship in the Civil War era, American constitutionalism, the Underground Railroad and the history of U.S. campaigns and elections.
Civil Liberties Abraham Lincoln, Fragment on Constitution & Union, c. January 1861 “The assertion of that principle, at that time, was the word, "fitly spoken" which has proved an "apple of gold" to us. The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn, and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple not the apple for the picture.” Discussion Question Did Lincoln believe there were principles higher than the Constitution?
Civil Liberties Abraham Lincoln to Winfield Scott, April 25, 1861 “I therefore conclude that it is only left to the commanding General to watch, and await their action [by the Maryland legislature]… [and] to adopt the most prompt, and efficient means to counteract [secession], even, if necessary, to the bombardment of their cities---and, of course, in the extremest necessity, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.” Discussion Question Why did Lincoln feel so pressured to act aggressively in Maryland in 1861?
Civil Liberties Article 1, Section 9, US Constitution “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” Discussion Question Which branch has the power to suspend civil liberties according to the Constitution ?
Civil Liberties Roger Taney, Ex Parte Merryman (published June 3, 1861) “I can only say that if the authority which the constitution has confided to the judiciary department and judicial officers, may thus, upon any pretext or under any circumstances, be usurped by the military power, at its discretion, the people of the United States are no longer living under a government of laws.” Discussion Question Why was Chief Justice Taney so dismissive of President Lincoln’s claims under the “military power”?
Civil Liberties Special Message to Congress, July 4, 1861 “And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United States….It forces us to ask: ‘Is there, in all republics, this inherent, and fatal weakness?’’ "Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?’”... “To state the question more directly, are all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated? Even in such a case, would not the official oath be broken, if the government should be overthrown, when it was believed that disregarding the single law, would tend to preserve it? But it was not believed that this question was presented. It was not believed that any law was violated.”... “It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the duty of employing the war power, in defense of the Government, forced upon him. He could but perform this duty or surrender the existence of the Government….In full view of his great responsibility he has, so far, done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours.”
Civil Liberties Abraham Lincoln to Erastus Corning, June 12, 1863 “Yet, thoroughly imbued with a reverence for the guaranteed rights of individuals, I was slow to adopt the strong measures, which by degrees I have been forced to regard as being within the exceptions of the constitution, and as indispensable to the public Safety. Nothing is better known to history than that courts of justice are utterly incompetent to such cases.” Discussion Question Why was Lincoln so dismissive of courts and judges in wartime civil liberties cases?
Emancipation Abraham Lincoln to Orville Browning, September 22, 1861 “And the same is true of slaves. If the General needs them, he can seize them, and use them; but when the need is past, it is not for him to fix their permanent future condition. That must be settled according to laws made by law—makers, and not by military proclamations. The proclamation in the point in question, is simply "dictatorship." It assumes that the general may do anything he pleases———confiscate the lands and free the slaves of loyal people, as well as of disloyal ones. And going the whole figure I have no doubt would be more popular with some thoughtless people, than that which has been done! But I cannot assume this reckless position; nor allow others to assume it on my responsibility. You speak of it as being the only means of saving the government. On the contrary it is itself the surrender of the government. Can it be pretended that it is any longer the government of the U.S.———any government of Constitution and laws,———wherein a General, or a President, may make permanent rules of property by proclamation? I do not say Congress might not with propriety pass a law, on the point, just such as General Fremont proclaimed. I do not say I might not, as a member of Congress, vote for it. What I object to, is, that I as President, shall expressly or impliedly seize and exercise the permanent legislative functions of the government.” Discussion Question In his 1861 letter to Browning, wasn’t Lincoln explaining why an emancipation proclamation would be unconstitutional?
Emancipation Second Confiscation Act, July 17, 1862 “Section 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them and coming under the control of the government of the United States; and all slaves of such person found on [or] being within any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves.” Discussion Question What is the relationship between congressional confiscation policy and Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation?
John Hay to Mary Jay, July 20, 1862 “The President himself has been, out of pure devotion to what he considers the best interests of humanity, the bulwark of the institution he abhors, for a year. But he will not conserve slavery much longer. When next he speaks in relation to this defiant and ungrateful villainy it will be with no uncertain sound. Even now he speaks more boldly and sternly to slaveholders than to the world. If I have sometimes been impatient of his delay I am so no longer.” Discussion Question What does John Hay appear to be describing in his letter to Mary Jay on Sunday afternoon, July 20, 1862?
First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln, Francis Biknell Carpenter, oil on canvas, 1864 Discussion Question Why did Lincoln change his mind less than one year after warning Orville Browning that emancipation proclamations were “dictatorship”?
Emancipation Abraham Lincoln to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862 “As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.” Discussion Question Was Lincoln outlining his true position in this letter to Greeley? How does understanding context complicate the meaning of this document?
Emancipation “And, as a fit and necessary military measure for effecting this object, I, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, do order and declare that on the first day of January in the year of Our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and sixtythree, all persons held as slaves within any state or states, wherein the constitutional authority of the United States shall not then be practically recognized, submitted to, and maintained, shall then, thenceforward, and forever, be free.” (July 22, 1862) _____________ “And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.” (January 1, 1863) Discussion Question What has changed in the emancipation sentence from July 22 to January 1?
Emancipation Final Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863 “And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.” Discussion Question In this sentence, Lincoln addresses former slaves directly for the first time. How does he define freedom for them?
Emancipation Final Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863 “And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.” Discussion Question Nothing like this sentence appears in any earlier draft of emancipation? How does this final addition change the meaning of the policy?
Emancipation Abraham Lincoln to James C. Conkling, August 26, 1863 “You dislike the emancipation proclamation; and, perhaps would have it retracted—— You say it is unconstitutional—— I think differently. I think the constitution invests its commander—in—chief, with the law of war in time of war.” Discussion Question What does Lincoln mean by “the law of war”?
Final Choices Abraham Lincoln to Albert Hodges, April 4, 1864 "I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling.”... “Was it possible to lose the nation, and yet preserve the Constitution? By general law life and limb must be protected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution, through the preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it.” Discussion Question Why does Lincoln separate his personal belief from his public duty? Did Lincoln believe that the Constitution changed during wartime?
Final Choices Blind Memorandum, August 23, 1864 “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.” Discussion Question What was Lincoln trying to accomplish with this secret memorandum from August 1864? Abraham Lincoln. Memorandum, August 23, Holograph document. Robert Todd Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (204)
Final Choices Lincoln Response to Serenade, November 10, 1864 “It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies.”... “But the election was a necessity. We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.” Discussion Question Lincoln asked the question about the strength of government in his July 4, 1861 special message to Congress. Why does he raise it again now, after his reelection? Lincoln suspended civil liberties and emancipated slaves, but he refused to cancel elections. Why did he believe that “free government” demanded regular political contests but not strict interpretations of the Constitution?