Abraham Lincoln: Good or Bad Wartime President?

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  • Topic: Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War, President of the United States
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Austin De Castro
Mr. Markert
U.S. History H-7
5/20/11
Abraham Lincoln: Good or Bad Wartime President?
Abraham Lincoln was thought up as one of the greatest presidents to have ever lived but contrary to belief he was actually a terrible wartime president. He had many people of his own cabinet, such as Salmon Chase, who connived against him while also having to deal with riots and protests against his war policies (Basler 75). Others say Lincoln was a tyrant for suspending writs of habeas corpus, repressing the press, and the fact that he arrested dissenters. Even abolitionists thought Lincoln was bad when it came to slavery and how he would not move quickly to finally free the slaves, while the people who were in favor of slavery accused him of waging war on slavery. Lincoln could be seen as a dictator since he has overused his presidential powers, such as declaring blockades in the South, ordering the writ of habeas corpus suspended in parts of Maryland, and so on (McPherson 55). As you can see, Abraham Lincoln was a bad wartime president for all of the terrible actions he has done such as overusing his powers and it is clear that he was not the president to be chosen at this time period because many people have scorned him for his actions.

To start off, Lincoln was a terrible wartime president since he could be seen as a dictator for overusing his powers. The Constitution gives the Congress the right to declare war, but on the contrary Lincoln used the powers given to Congress to declare a blockade onto the South which is none of his business since that power was given to Congress only. Lincoln declared the blockade on the South in April 1861 and it was called the Union Blockade. The Union Blockade was part of the Anaconda Plan which was made by Winfield Scott and it was designed to close much territory of the Confederate coastline and major ports which would divide the South into three parts. The Union Blockade led to Confederate cotton exports being reduced because of the inability to transport goods and exports, or it even prevented the importation of weapons since the ports were closed (Thomas 34). There was another part to the Anaconda Plan, but the blockading of the South is relevant to the situation in which Lincoln declared the obstruction. This situation was later brought to the Supreme Court and as said before, the power to declare war is a right given to the Congress and not the president. Lincoln was obviously the president during this time period, and he overused his powers in order to declare a blockade onto the South, which is like declaring war. Lincoln put matters into his own hands and did not care for the rules of how the Constitution gave certain rights to the president and certain rights to the Congress.

Other than proclaiming a blockade on the South, Lincoln also increased the size of the federal army when he called for volunteering troops. What had happened was on April 15, 1861 Lincoln said the Southern states had opposed the laws of the Union because they had “constituted combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.” Since Lincoln said that the South said this, he ended up calling for 75,000 volunteer troops who were to serve for three months in order to stop the combinations that South has claimed and so they could also stop the laws the South created (Sandburg 64). The troops were lucky to get two meals a day, and supply was short such as uniforms and so on, but as said before this is not a right of a president; it was a right of the Congress which was again given from the Constitution. This was another instance of how Lincoln was a bad wartime president because he would overuse his powers many times; in this case he was increasing the size of the federal army which is not a power of the president

Furthermore, Lincoln could be seen as a bad wartime president because he used powers and rights that were given to the Congress and used them...
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