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Abraham Lincoln

Presidency

What measures did Lincoln take that arguably violated constitutional liberties?

Lincoln believed that the Union must be preserved above all else. To that end, he justified certain measures as necessary during a time of war. For example, he suspended the writ of habeas corpus—a guarantee in the Constitution that essentially ensures that the government will not detain a person without legal justification.

Lincoln suspended the writ and had federal officers arrest numerous political leaders in the state of Maryland whom he suspected of leading the state into secession. He had thousands of Southerners arrested and tried in military courts without the normal panoply of constitutional protections. He even ordered the censorship of certain newspapers critical of the Union war effort.



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