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“The Extremest Necessity:” Lincoln’s Policies on Civil Liberties and Citizen Responses, 1861-1865

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Martin, Elizabeth Mae-Carr. “The Extremest Necessity:’ Lincoln’s Policies on Civil Liberties and Citizen Responses, 1861-1865.” (Under the direction of Dr. Susanna Lee.)

Abraham Lincoln has been viewed alternately as a hero of the Union or a tyrant who abused his power. This debate stems in part from Lincoln’s actions regarding civil liberties. Lincoln authorized the suspension of habeas corpus and the military arrest of civilians in his efforts to preserve the Union and prosecute the Civil War. These actions specifically impacted the residents in the Border States of Maryland and Missouri. Not only are Lincoln’s actions a reflection of his personal constitutional philosophy, the subsequent reaction by citizens reveals the popular constitutionalism of the people impacted by the policies. Citizens reacted to Lincoln’s policies along regional lines and the issues raised by citizens of the North, South and Border States provide insight into the political and legal debate surrounding the issue of civil liberties during the Civil War. An analysis of the citizen reactions to Lincoln’s civil liberty policies further explores the relationship of dissent and loyalty during wartime.

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