Individual Rights

in Lincoln's Constitution

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780226237930
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226237954 | DOI:
Individual Rights

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Individual rights were undoubtedly curtailed during the Civil War. Military actions during the war gave rise to a series of interlinked constitutional issues. Various intrusions on civil liberties might appear to be signs of incipient dictatorship. Lincoln was right that the war power authorized extraordinary actions that might otherwise have violated individual rights. The single most important factor is the proximity between the action and specifically military concerns. The more closely an action was related to the actual operations of the army, the more likely it was to pass constitutional muster. Emancipation was not a decision that Lincoln reached lightly. He was persuaded that without Union success on the field, emancipation would look like a sign of desperation and might be challenged on more specific constitutional grounds.

Keywords: individual rights; Civil War; military actions; emancipation; power

Chapter.  13623 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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