The Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, 1863 was the third and final draft of Abraham Lincoln’s plan to free all persons held in slavery in the rebellious southern states. The first draft was presented to Lincoln’s cabinet privately, on July 22, 1862. The second draft released to the public on September 22, 1862 is quoted in the final document. Historian Matthew Pinkster noted in each of these drafts, issued at different times and under different circumstances, have the same date of initiation; the first day of January. The significance of the same date illustrates Lincoln’s commitment to emancipation regardless of military victory. However, the timeline signified that ...view middle of the document...
Taney posed a serious legal challenge to war actions like confiscation, martial law and suspension of habeas corpus. Chief Justice Taney had already rejected President Lincoln’s order to suspense of the writ of habeas corpus in Maryland. Taney declared Lincoln’s action unconstitutional. In his opinion of Ex Parte Merryman, Taney scolded Lincoln:
…To the President of the United States. It will then remain for that high officer, in fulfilment of his constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” to determine what measures he will take to cause the civil process of the United States to be respected and enforced.
Abraham Lincoln was aware his actions as President were scrutinized. He was an untested obscure lawyer from Illinois. He was a republican who clearly articulated his opposition to expansion of slavery in the territories. His debates with the better known Stephen A. Douglas during the Illinois Senate race were read widely. Lincoln’s House Divided Speech was of particular interest. This speech followed him, as a sort of harbinger of Lincoln’s intentions to end slavery if ever he won the election for president.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved–I do not expect the house to fall–but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.
Abraham Lincoln won the Presidency from a divided country, not a single electoral vote was cast for him from a state where slavery was a legal institution. Just as Lincoln predicted, the house began to fall when South Carolina seceded first followed by seven other states. In his Inaugural Address, President Lincoln articulated the political relationship of seceded southern states “I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken; and, to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States.”
Lincoln avoided over step his authority a president which may be perceived as a violation of Constitutional principles. Any unconstitutional actions would be interpreted as despotic, a label those loyal to the Confederacy were already hanging around his neck. His critics and enemies were very well aware of their rights and his presidential powers. In a letter to Erastus Corning, President Lincoln explained the tricky situation he faced. The enemy knew the constitutional protection and civil liberties defined by the Constitution. These limitations and constraints on the government bound the government and could be used to their advantage. “It undoubtedly was a well-pondered reliance with them that in their own unrestricted effort to destroy Union, Constitution and law, all together, the government would, in great degree, be restrained by the same...