Lincoln's Expansion of Powers and its Constitutionality
Updated: 8/30/2018
Lincoln's Expansion of Powers and its Constitutionality
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Abraham Lincoln Biography

The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln

Lesson Plans by Richard Cleggett

Abraham Lincoln’s presidential service is remarkable, both in the obstacles he faced, and the manner in which he overcame them. Through his audacious leadership in a period of national strife, Lincoln has come to be regarded as one of the greatest presidents in U.S. History. Students will enjoy bringing the events of his candidacy to life through storyboards, and will be able to better understand his impact on history.

Presidency of Abraham Lincoln

Storyboard Description

Lincoln's Expansion of Powers and its Constitutionality

Storyboard Text

  • You DID receive a fair trial!
  • Habeas corpus... SUSPENDED!
  • I must do what I can to end this war!
  • "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it", and Amendment V states that, "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger..."
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus to ensure that all war criminals participating in the rebellion against the Union are detained and held. Ultimately, he suspends suspected rebels' rights to court and a fair hearing to determine their breaking of the law.
  • It is both a WAR and MORAL measure!
  • The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus can be argued as both constitutional and unconstitutional. While it is a constitutional right, it is also noted it may be suspended in a time of rebellion, which applied to the Civil War.
  • I pledge to free the slaves!
  • Amendment IV states that, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
  • The Emancipation Proclamation effectively eliminated rebellious states' rights to their slaves. The Proclamation declared that all slaves were now free in states where slaves were considered property, as well as the driving economic force. According to the citizens of those states, people's right to property and unwarranted confiscation of their property was being violated.
  • One could argue that Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was not a violation of constitutional rights, considering the South was in rebellion against the Union, and therefore was not subject to the Constitution. In addition, the Proclamation served as a war measure, as well as a moral one, to undermine the South's ability to fight the Civil War.
  • We must increase our military presence!
  • That is CONGRESS' POWER!
  • Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution declares that, "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress..."
  • In the onslaught of the Civil War, Lincoln exercised his power as president to build up the military, increasing the number of readied soldiers to 75,000. In addition, Lincoln authorized the borrowing and spending of money to fund the war efforts. Primarily, all war decisions and actions are left to Congress, as stated in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.
  • One could argue that Lincoln's actions in expanding the military were unconstitutional. Lincoln took powers and matters into his own hands to conduct Union troops in the Civil War-- powers that are primarily delegated to Congress alone. Lincoln did this without congressional approval, and his actions also sparked further secession of southern states, including Virginia.
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