Abraham Lincoln: Deliverer or Dictator?

Lincoln disregarded the Constitution by "discovering" presidential powers in the Constitution that no previous president had ever found before. He claimed that being President and Commander-in-Chief allowed him carte blanche in the name of "war powers." Lincoln, among other usurpations and Constitutional violations:

  • Unilaterally suspended habeas corpus in the North

    Usurping the power of Congress, and acting against the ruling of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and used the military to arrest and imprison without proper legal procedures any who voiced disagreement with his war and domestic policies. Suspension of habeas corpus remained in effect during his entire administration and thousands were held indefinitely without trial. Historians estimate that more than 13,000 political prisoners were held in the military prisons-many of whom were not secessionists. Lincoln also ordered the arrest of Chief Justice Taney for daring to challenge his usurpation.

  • Declared martial law in the North

    With civil liberties nullified by suspension of habeas corpus, citizens were subject to arbitrary arrest by the military for the duration of Lincoln's administration. Vague accusations and rumors such as participating in "disloyal practices" were rampant and the military was given the power to decide what was "disloyal." No dissent was tolerated.

  • Censored the press and imprisoned publishers in the North

    Any newspapers that criticized Lincoln were shut down in various ways. Publishers and editors were imprisoned without due process or a trial. Printing presses were destroyed and dozens of prominent newspapers all over the North were shuttered.

  • Censored all telegraph communications in the North

    Beginning February 2, 1862, the Federal government began censoring all telegraphs communications.

  • Ordered Federal troops to prevent opposition voting in the North

    In Maryland election judges were instructed to throw out any votes for candidates who opposed Lincoln's war. Posters were placed at voting booths instructing everyone to expose anyone voting who opposed Lincoln. Soldiers were present to arrest anyone suspected of southern sympathies.

  • Deported U.S. Representative Clement Vallandigham of Ohio

    Congressman Vallandigham was arrested without a warrant and thrown into military prison for making a speech criticizing Lincoln's unconstitutional usurpation of power. He was then deported to the South.

  • Illegally established West Virginia as a state

    Lincoln unconstitutionally orchestrated the creation of the new state of West Virginia and set up a puppet government that would be pro-union.

  • Occupied Maryland

    Most of the Maryland's duly elected legislature ended up in prison because of suspected southern sympathies. Again, legislators, officials, newspaper editors and publishers, and ordinary citizens were imprisoned without due process or trial. Newspapers were shut down. In the November election members of the Federal army voted pro-union, whether residents or not, and citizens were intimated by soldiers with weapons to only vote pro-union. A puppet government was installed.

  • Invaded the South without consulting Congress

    Without the consent of Congress, early in 1861 Lincoln sent 75,000 troops down to invade the South. Lincoln tried to dodge the constitutional issue of declaring war by calling it a 'rebellion' and 'insurrection,' refusing to recognize the Confederate government.

  • Blockaded Southern ports

    While continuing to refer to the South as states in 'rebellion' on one hand, on the other hand he nevertheless blockaded the southern ports as though the South was actually a foreign country. The U.S. Constitution permitted this only as an act of war against foreign powers and requires a Congressional resolution.

    Sources:
    When in the Course of Human Events, by Charles Adams
    The Real Lincoln, by Thomas DiLorenzo
    The Real Lincoln, by Charles L.C. Minor
    Forced Into Glory, by Lerone Bennett, Jr.
    The War Between the States, by John J. Dwyer