Abraham Lincoln Vs The Constitution

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In the first half of his lecture on Lincoln vs. The Constitution, Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo makes the bold statement declaring that President Abraham Lincoln acted as a dictator. While many historians criticize his blatant abuse of power, other historians applaud Lincoln’s actions saying they were best for the country’s future. The Constitution in no way condones the act of creating a dictatorship; President Lincoln’s actions of overriding the legislative and judicial branches were not necessary in the preservation of the United States because it gave the false impression of a united Union. President Lincoln was critical in the history of the United States because Lincoln acted as a dictator by ignoring the separation of powers the Constitution established. President Lincoln did many things to ignore the separation of powers laid out in the
Constitution, such as sending the military to block the southern ports without the consent of
Congress and the suspension of habeas corpus.1 However, one of his most significant acts to deceive the people of the Union was to limit their freedom of speech. In no way does the
President, or his administration, have the right to take away the public’s right to freely express themselves.2 This may be one of the most tyrannical actions he took. President Lincoln misused the powers granted to him as President and made it illegal to say anything negative about his administration, to not defend his administration, or to defend the “traitors”. It was said that the only place that guaranteed freedom of speech in the Union was at Fort Lafayette, the prison the
“slanderers” were sent to. Because all of those who opposed Lincoln’s actions were sent to prison, it seemed that the entire northern half of the country defended Lincoln’s administration.3
Thus, Dr. DiLorenzo is correct in his conclusion that Northern unity was a myth. The President


DiLorenzo, Thomas, "Lincoln vs. the Constitution." Liberty and American Civilization. Mises Institute: Auburn,
Alabama. 06 June 2006.
Amendment I to the US Constitution
DiLorenzo, op. cit.

2 created this façade by arresting those who resisted his administration. By doing this, only those united behind the President retained their freedom of speech. His administration was able to get rid of all negative propaganda creating the illusion of a united Union.
President Lincoln’s disregard for the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of speech sparked a lot of criticism and was brought before the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Taney ruled Lincoln’s actions as unconstitutional. After Taney’s ruling was made, Lincoln called for his arrest because Chief Justice Taney had expressed disagreement towards Lincoln’s presidency. This was a blatant neglect of the Supreme Court’s power by Lincoln and once again showed him ignoring the separation of powers spelled out in the Constitution. Many historians feel that Lincoln’s call for Chief Justice Taney’s arrest was a huge crime, not only by Lincoln, but also by his administration because they disregarded the judicial branch.4 The President hoped to preserve the illusion of a united Union, so he once again ignored the Constitution. Dr.
DiLorenzo explains that while some of Lincoln’s actions might be justifiable, suspending the
Constitution during a time of war or during a crisis is never acceptable. Dr. DiLorenzo is correct.
The Constitution is the basis of the country, the President never has the right to ignore, or suspend it, even if he feels that it is best for the country. Lincoln’s issuance of Chief Justice
Taney’s arrest reinforces the false illusion of a united Union by getting rid of his opposition.
I agree with Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo’s assessment of President Abraham Lincoln in
DiLorenzo’s speech, Lincoln versus the