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Lincoln, the Law, and Presidential Leadership

Lincoln, the Law, and Presidential Leadership

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Edited by Charles M. Hubbard


E-book (Other formats: Hardcover)
9 illustrations


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About the Book

From his early years as a small-town lawyer through his rise to the presidency, Abraham Lincoln respected the rule of law. Secession and the Civil War, however, led him to expand presidential power in ways that, over time, transformed American society. In this incisive essay collection, recognized scholars from a variety of academic disciplines—including history, political science, legal studies, and journalism—explore Lincoln’s actions as president and identify within his decision-making process his commitment to law and the principles of the Constitution. In so doing, they demonstrate how wartime pressures and problems required that Lincoln confront the constitutional limitations imposed on the chief executive, and they expose the difficulty and ambiguity associated with the protection of civil rights during the Civil War.
The volume’s contributors not only address specific situations and issues that assisted in Lincoln’s development of a new understanding of law and its application but also show Lincoln’s remarkable presidential leadership. Among the topics covered are civil liberties during wartime; presidential pardons; the law and Lincoln’s decision-making process; Lincoln’s political ideology and its influence on his approach to citizenship; Lincoln’s defense of the Constitution, the Union, and popular government; constitutional restraints on Lincoln as he dealt with slavery and emancipation; the Lieber codes, which set forth how the military should deal with civilians and with prisoners of war; the loyalty (or treason) of government employees, including Lincoln’s domestic staff; and how Lincoln’s image has been used in presidential rhetoric. Although varied in their strategies and methodologies, these essays expand the understanding of Lincoln’s vision for a united nation grounded in the Constitution.
Lincoln, the Law, and Presidential Leadership shows how the sixteenth president’s handling of complicated legal issues during the Civil War, which often put him at odds with the Supreme Court and Congress, brought the nation through the war intact and led to a transformation of the executive branch and American society.


Charles M. Hubbard is a professor of history and the Lincoln Historian at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. His duties include directing the Abraham Lincoln Institute for the Study of Leadership and Public Policy. He is the author or editor of nine books, including The Burden of Confederate Diplomacy, Lincoln Reshapes the Presidency, and Lincoln and His Contemporaries.

Contributors include Burrus M. Carnahan, Jason R. Jividen, Edna Greene Medford, Ron Soodalter, Mark E. Steiner, Daniel W. Stowell, Natalie Sweet, and Frank J. Williams.


“The essays in this book explore the ways in which Lincoln’s leadership interacted with the law for better or worse. Contributors provide fresh insights into familiar episodes like the Vallandigham case as well as less familiar ones like Lincoln’s response to accusations of disloyalty against the White House gardener and messenger.”—Daniel Farber, author of Lincoln’s Constitution

“Charles Hubbard has collected and contributed to a worthy collection of essays showing the variety of ways Lincoln’s legal background influenced the style and content of his presidential leadership.” —Gerald J. Prokopowicz, author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other FAQ about Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln, the Law, and Presidential Leadership is a superb collection of the latest Lincoln scholarship to examine the influence of constitutional law on the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. These essays, written by some of today’s most respected Lincoln scholars, provide brief, insightful analyses of the hottest Lincoln topics, including the sixteenth president’s interpretation of his emergency war powers; his unilateral suspension of habeas corpus; and his actions as commander in chief to free the slaves, pardon condemned soldiers, and prosecute the war. Brilliantly edited by eminent Lincoln scholar Charles Hubbard, this highly readable volume will appeal to scholars, Lincoln enthusiasts, and students alike.”—Gordon Leidner, author of Lincoln’s Gift: How Humor Shaped Lincoln’s Life and Legacy

"Lincoln, the Law, and Presidential Leadership is an anthology of scholarly essays by learned authors examining the influence of American law on Lincoln's presidency, and vice versa. . . . [It is an] insightful and erudite addition to American legal and political history collections ---Midwest Book Review