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Emancipation Proclamation in United States

Nearly 200 years prior to the start of the Civil War, John Locke, an influential English enlightenment philosopher, noted that the power of the executive is to act for the public good, “without the prescription of the law and sometimes even against it.” To preserve and maintain society is the fundamental role of the executive. Shortly after the election of President Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina seceded and was subsequently joined by several other states. Sectional divisions over a wide array of issues such as economical differences, slavery, and states rights led to a long and bloody civil war beginning in April of 1861. As such, President Abraham Lincoln’s focus during the Civil War was to preserve the Union as it stood and cease the rebellion of the Confederate states. And, he would take any necessary action to maintain the security of the Union, including limiting the freedoms of his citizens. To curb dissent and further fractures in the Union, Lincoln installed suspended the writ of habeas corpus. However, Lincoln also took measures to promote liberty during the civil war, impacting the Union socially, politically, economically, and militarily by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, thereby freeing all slaves in the rebelling states. During the Civil War, President Lincoln took measures that both promoted and limited freedom and security but ultimately allowed for the preservation of a more morally progressive United States.

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To continue the security of the Union and maintain peace within it, President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, at the cost of the liberties of his citizens to promote the stability of the Union. A writ of habeas corpus is a court order to whomever is holding an imprisoned individual to provide a legitimate reason for their imprisonment. Lincoln’s actions which undermined civil liberties were not look upon favorably by the courts, however. In the case of Ex Parte Merryman, Roger Taney, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. authorized a writ of habeas corpus for Merryman (a Confederate sympathizer). Citing Lincoln’s orders of the suspension, General George Cadwalader refused to obey Taney. Taney argued that only Congress could authorize the “suspension of the writ of habeas corpus since “this article is devoted to the Legislative Department of the United States…has not the slightest reference to the Executive Department.” Nevertheless, Lincoln continued to the suspension and was supported by Congress in March of 1863, who officially authorized Lincoln to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Additionally, in a letter written on June 29th, 1863 addressed to the public, Lincoln noted that “the military arrests and detentions which have been made…have been for prevention, and not for punishment… have not been accompanied by indictments, or trials by juries.” Lincoln’s actions were preventative measures, not intended to punish or assume guilt, but rather to allow for the security of the union to persevere. It was necessary to prevent and stop dissent and active plots against the Union to aid the Confederacy, as highlighted in the arrest of politician Clement Vallandigham, who pledged his hostility to the war and sought to encourage desertions and allow the Union to fall to the Confederacy as a result of an inadequate military force. His arrest and the arrests of many others with similar agendas, empowered by the suspended writ of habeas corpus, prevented a potential Union loss and assured the strength of the Union army. Therefore, Lincoln limited freedoms by removing one’s protection from arbitrary arrest and right to a speedy trial, but prevented dissent and fractures in the Union that may have brought its downfall.

During the civil war, Lincoln also promoted freedoms for many and consequently the security of the union through issuing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863 The Emancipation Proclamation, though freeing over 3 million slaves and granting them new freedoms, was primarily a military maneuver to promote a Union victory and cripple the South’s slave based economy. The proclamation gave the war a new moral impetus by turning an explicit focus to slavery. This discouraged nations such as England and France from assisting the Confederacy since they had already abolished slavery in their own nations, and therefore could not morally support it. More importantly, besides freeing millions of slaves, the proclamation gave the new freed slaves an opportunity to join the Union army. This bolstered the overall strength of the Union army and would contribute to an eventual victory. Furthermore, in a letter from Lincoln defending the Emancipation Proclamation, he states “…to whatever extent the negroes should case helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you.” By removing the foundation of the Southern way of life and economy, Lincoln benefited from a severely weakened South and consequently, a stronger Union. In addition to the overwhelming military benefits the Emancipation Proclamation brought to the Union, it also furthered the cause of freedoms for slaves and paved the path for the complete abolition of slavery in less than 3 years time. Thus, the Emancipation Proclamation provided for the freedoms of millions of slaves while also promoting the security and strength of the Union by handicapping the South.

Some claim that Lincoln excessively and needlessly violated constitutionally protected freedoms, particularly the freedom of press during the civil war. However, Lincoln only arrested and imprisoned editors who deliberately disseminated controversial misinformation and showed great restraint in not suppressing the press. For example, journalists published a fraudulent document supposedly written by Lincoln that called for 400,000 new troops. Only in this extreme incident did Lincoln order the arrest of the editors. Moreover, Lincoln did not actively pursue suppression of the press. When General Burnside ordered the editor of The Chicago Times to be arrested, Lincoln revoked his order allowed the newspaper to continue publication, despite its negative press towards Lincoln.

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Emancipation Proclamation in United States
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Nearly 200 years prior to the start of the Civil War, John Locke, an influential English enlightenment philosopher, noted that the power of the executive is to act for the public good, “without the prescription of the law and sometimes even against it.” To preserve and maintain society is the fundamental role of the executive. Shortly after the election of President Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina seceded and was subsequently joined by several other states. Sectional divisions over a wide ar
2021-12-21 07:46:15
Emancipation Proclamation in United States
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