Lincoln’s Use of Presidential War Powers

Lincoln’s Use of Presidential War Powers

Recognizing Abraham Lincoln’s position at the onset of the Civil War, it is evident that many of the actions and decisions he carried outset groundbreaking precedents for future presidents. The prescribed precedents are on the forefront of today’s political stage George W. Bush’s role in initiating the war with Iraq bears great resemblance to Lincoln’s nineteenth-century strategies. Nevertheless, while the principle underlying both of their plans is similar, the reality of the situation is that Bush manipulated Lincoln’s precedents in such a fashion so as to justify a war that simply was not necessary. Thus, while Lincoln and Bush may have acted in a comparable fashion, Bush’s actions and strategies ultimately prove to be the negative consequences of Lincoln’s actions and subsequent precedents. Indeed, Bush’s political and policy strategies for the War on Iraq have exploited Lincoln’s well-intended precedents and have disrupted the checks and balances system that is critical to the success of the American government. Lincoln used his presidential powers extensively during the start of the Civil War; to the point that some people actually believed he was stretching them beyond the Constitutional limits. In the first months of the war, prior to the convention of Congress, Lincoln expanded the regular army, called for volunteers, and spent federal funds that had not yet been appropriated. Support for these actions was yielded by his own claim that once Congress met, they would surely approve his actions. Stretching his war powers as commander in chief, Lincoln ordered a naval blockade of Southern ports and substituted martial law for civil war in numerous states. This action was legally equivalent to a declaration of war, a power expressly reserved to Congress in the Constitution. However, it can be argued that because the war was defensive in nature, the President did not need the authorization of Congress. When Linco…


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