Guest Essayist: Horace Cooper, legal commentator, contributor with Constituting America and adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research

There has been much discussion about the reach and scope of executive power.  While certainly Presidents Washington and Jefferson provide good lessons about what would be accepted practice from an executive, perhaps no other President besides Lincoln gives as extensive a model of executive authority.

To start, President Lincoln responded to the April attack on Ft Sumter and the growing secessionist movement by putting executive power front and center.  The Civil War started during the Congressional recess and President Lincoln would prosecute the North’s response for nearly 3 months before calling Congress Read more

On April 12, 1861, a Confederate commander informed the Union forces stationed at Fort Sumter, in the Charleston harbor, of his plans to attack. The Civil War began an hour later. President Lincoln immediately called for 75,000 volunteers. Four states from the upper South seceded over the following month. With Congress out of session, Lincoln led the military effort without congressional approval for nearly three months. In this speech to Congress, which convened on Independence Day, he depicts the Confederacy as a section of the Union in insurrection rather than a foreign nation requiring a declaration of war. Read more