Page:Abraham Lincoln address (1909).djvu/19

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We, therefore, come now to consider some of the things (because we can only refer to a few of them) which Mr. Lincoln did in bringing on, and in the conduct of, that war.

When Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States on the 4th of March, 1861, he took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. Says one of his most ardent admirers, McClure:

"As the sworn executive of the nation, it was his duty to obey the Constitution in all its provisions, and ho accepted that duty without reservation."

In his first inaugural, Mr. Lincoln said:

"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

And yet we know that within eighteen months from that time he issued his Emancipation Proclamation.


As to this proclamation, it is worthy of remark, that it is claimed to have been issued by virtue of some kind of "war power" vested in the President by the Constitution and laws. The Northern historian Rhodes, Vol. 4, p.213, says:

"There was, as every one knows, no authority for the proclamation in the letter of the Constitution, nor was there any-statute that warranted it."

Let us ask, then, where did Mr. Lincoln find any authority to issue it? Certainly not in the Constitution. For, says the Supreme Court of the United States in Ex parte Milligan, 4 Wallace 120:

"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men at all times and under all circumstances. No doctrine involving more pernicious consequences was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great