Act of JusticeLincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War

Act of JusticeLincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War

Burrus M. Carnahan

Print publication date: 2011

ISBN: 9780813124636

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky

Abstract

In his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln declared that as president he would “have no lawful right” to interfere with the institution of slavery. Yet less than two years later, he issued a proclamation intended to free all slaves throughout the Confederate states. When critics challenged the constitutional soundness of the act, Lincoln asserted that he was endowed “with the law of war in time of war”. This book contends Lincoln was no reluctant emancipator; he wrote a truly radical document that treated Confederate slaves as an oppressed people rather than merely as enemy property. In this respect, Lincoln's proclamation anticipated the intellectual warfare tactics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.