Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties: Then and Now

John Y. Simon, Harold Holzer and Dawn Vogel

in Lincoln Revisited

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227365
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240869 | DOI:
Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties: Then and Now

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Abraham Lincoln has been accused of forsaking civil liberties. If Lincoln failed to uphold all the provisions of the Constitution, he faced possible condemnation regardless of his actions, assailed not only by those who genuinely valued civil liberty, but also by enemies and opponents whose motive was criticism itself. Whatever criticism Lincoln faced for pushing his power to the limits of the Constitution, far harsher would have been his denunciation if the whole experiment of the democratic American Union failed, as seemed possible given the circumstances. In June 1863, Lincoln composed a justly famous reply to Albany, New York, Democrats who had accused him of forsaking civil liberties. The less-often cited letter that inspired the response, and the rebuttal to Lincoln's reply, make clear that the upstate New York Democrats believed deeply that Lincoln had gone too far in denying constitutional guarantees and that the opposition animus was hardly limited to New York.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; civil liberties; Constitution; American Union; New York; Democrats

Chapter.  8899 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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