Did Lincoln follow precedents set by previous Presidents when dealing with the secession/rebellion of the southern states?

Did Lincoln follow precedents set by previous Presidents when dealing with secession/disunion?

  • Yes

    Votes: 21 70.0%
  • No

    Votes: 9 30.0%

  • Total voters
    30

BuckeyeWarrior

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Location
Ohio
Lincoln seems to get a lot of hate from those this forum that support the southern attempt at independence/disunion. However, the evidence I have seen shows that Lincoln did nothing more than follow the precedents set by presidents previous to him. In this thread I would like to discuss if this is true. So I want to limit this discussion to what Presidents either did or said about secession/rebellion/disunion while in office. Looking for evidence, from the time and sourced, on whether Lincoln did or did not follow precedent.

This post is not to discuss whether what these presidents did was right/wrong just if it was a precedent that Lincoln followed.

I’ll begin with a list of actions/statements by Presidents that, to me, show Lincoln followed precedent in dealing with the situation in 1860-61.

1)George Washington June 8, 1763;
“It is indispensable to the happiness of the individual states, that there should be lodged somewhere, a supreme power to regulate and govern the general concerns of the…republic, without which the Union cannot be of long duration. That there must be a faithful and pointed compliance on the part of every state, with the…proposals and demands of Congress, or the most fatal consequences will ensue; that whatever measures have a tendency to dissolve the Union, or contribute to violate or lessen the sovereign authority, ought to be considered as hostile to the liberty and independency of America, and the authors of them treated accordingly….[W]ithout an entire conformity to the spirit of the Union, we cannot exist as an independent power.

Here the father of our country says that measures that might dissolve the Union should be considered hostile and treated accordingly. I would assume what he meant with treated accordingly is put down by force as he did in the whiskey rebellion.

2)James Monroe- in 1812, parts of New England tried to secede. Monroe ordered troops (23rd and 25th regiments) into Hartford Conn, where a convention on dissolution was being held by secessionist federalists in order to put down secessionism.

3)Andrew Jackson-issued the nullification proclamation which stated”disunion by armed force is treason.” Also said; “if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.’ Also ordered his secretary of war to plan for putting down secession if South Carolina did vote to secede.

4)Zachary Taylor-February 1850, after some incensed southern leaders threatened secession, Zachary angrily told them that he personally would lead the army if it became necessary in order to enforce federal laws and preserve the Union.

5)James Buchanan- states that secession was unconstitutional but also that the federal government did not have any authority to stop it. However did later say this to the commissioners of South Carolina;
“It is not believed that any attempt will be made to expel the United States from this property by force; but if in this I should prove to be mistaken, the officer in command of the forts has received orders to act strictly on the defensive. In such a contingency, the responsibility for consequences would rightfully rest upon the heads of the assailants.”

This statement, to me, shows even Buchanan would have used force if South Carolina had fired on Fort Sumter.

Look forward to hearing what other site members think on this question.
 
In addition to what you've mentioned, Lincoln's authority to call forth the military to suppress insurrection emanated directly from the Militia Acts of 1792 and 1795, the Insurrection Act of 1807, Justice Story's majority opinion in both Houston v Moore [1820], and Martin v Mott [1827], Chief Justice Taney's opinion in Luther v Borden [1849] as well as past presidential precedents such as John Adams' use of militia during the 1799 Fries Rebellion, Thomas Jefferson's 1808 call up of militia against insurrectionists in up-state New York, and of course Andrew Jackson's threat of force against South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis.

Even a dissenting Supreme Court Justice in the Prize Cases agreed with Lincoln's authority:
"It will be seen, therefore, that ample provision has been made under the Constitution and laws against any sudden and unexpected disturbance of the public peace from insurrection at home or invasion from abroad.
The whole military and naval power of the country is put under the control of the President to meet the emergency. He may call out a force in proportion to its necessities, one regiment or fifty, one ship-of-war or any number at his discretion. If, like the insurrection in the State of Pennsylvania in 1793, the disturbance is confined to a small district of country, a few regiments of the militia may be sufficient to suppress it. If of the dimension of the present, when it first broke out, a much larger force would be required. But whatever its numbers, whether great or small, that may be required, ample provision is here made; and whether great or small, the nature of the power is the same. It is the exercise of a power under the municipal laws of the country and not under the law of nations; and, as we see, furnishes the most ample means of repelling attacks from abroad or suppressing disturbances at home until the assembling of Congress, who can, if it be deemed necessary, bring into operation the war power, and thus change the nature and character of the contest. Then, instead of being carried on under the municipal law of 1795, it would be under the law of nations, and the Acts of Congress as war measures with all the rights of war."
Dissenting opinion of Justice Samuel Nelson,
THE AMY WARWICK, 67 U.S. 635 (1862)
THE BRIG AMY WARWICK.; THE SCHOONER CRENSHAW.; THE BARQUE HIAWATHA.; THE SCHOONER BRILLIANTE
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
 

BuckeyeWarrior

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Location
Ohio
In addition to what you've mentioned, Lincoln's authority to call forth the military to suppress insurrection emanated directly from the Militia Acts of 1792 and 1795, the Insurrection Act of 1807, Justice Story's majority opinion in both Houston v Moore [1820], and Martin v Mott [1827], Chief Justice Taney's opinion in Luther v Borden [1849] as well as past presidential precedents such as John Adams' use of militia during the 1799 Fries Rebellion, Thomas Jefferson's 1808 call up of militia against insurrectionists in up-state New York, and of course Andrew Jackson's threat of force against South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis.

Even a dissenting Supreme Court Justice in the Prize Cases agreed with Lincoln's authority:
"It will be seen, therefore, that ample provision has been made under the Constitution and laws against any sudden and unexpected disturbance of the public peace from insurrection at home or invasion from abroad.
The whole military and naval power of the country is put under the control of the President to meet the emergency. He may call out a force in proportion to its necessities, one regiment or fifty, one ship-of-war or any number at his discretion. If, like the insurrection in the State of Pennsylvania in 1793, the disturbance is confined to a small district of country, a few regiments of the militia may be sufficient to suppress it. If of the dimension of the present, when it first broke out, a much larger force would be required. But whatever its numbers, whether great or small, that may be required, ample provision is here made; and whether great or small, the nature of the power is the same. It is the exercise of a power under the municipal laws of the country and not under the law of nations; and, as we see, furnishes the most ample means of repelling attacks from abroad or suppressing disturbances at home until the assembling of Congress, who can, if it be deemed necessary, bring into operation the war power, and thus change the nature and character of the contest. Then, instead of being carried on under the municipal law of 1795, it would be under the law of nations, and the Acts of Congress as war measures with all the rights of war."
Dissenting opinion of Justice Samuel Nelson,
THE AMY WARWICK, 67 U.S. 635 (1862)
THE BRIG AMY WARWICK.; THE SCHOONER CRENSHAW.; THE BARQUE HIAWATHA.; THE SCHOONER BRILLIANTE
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
I have never heard of the Fries rebellion. I will have to research that one. Thank you!
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
James Monroe- in 1812, parts of New England tried to secede. Monroe ordered troops (23rd and 25th regiments) into Hartford Conn, where a convention on dissolution was being held by secessionist federalists in order to put down secessionism.
An aside. The supposed intention of New England to secede is a "popular myth" because of a misreading of history. There was talk among members of a specific political party--but such a thing never even was proposed in the Hartford Convention. The president sent Thomas Jessup to assess the situation.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Washington - whiskey rebellion
John Adams - Frie's Rebellion
Thomas Jefferson - resistance to the embargo
Jackson - south carolina
Martin Van Buren & Tyler - Patriot War/Canadian Border
taylor - "Disunion is treason; and if the disunionists attempt to carry out their schemes while I am President, I will hang them."
Fillmore - Texas/new mexico
Franklin Pierce - Kansas
James Buchanan - Utah

all used federal force to put down resistance to the law.
All precedents for what Lincoln did
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
I have never heard of the Fries rebellion. I will have to research that one. Thank you!
Did Lincoln when he issued the call up for the milita ,did he have in mind that this show of force ,as at previous threats of secession. would cause those states that had left to reconsider or that those at conventions of succession would halt the movement to succeed,He reason that as with previous threats by certain states to depart the Union that they did so in order to achieve that which they desired .Lincoln trusted the Unionist in these states to have more influence than they did ,Then the issue become Did the firing on Sumter have any real effect on these states as to Succeeding.The fort was fired on by the Confederacy first .In all the previous threats of succeeding was there any record of where the threat was carried out by an attack on a federal property as with Sumter.As to any issue of reason behind Lincoln's actions read the OATH which he took to Defend the Constitution along with the remaining parts of the OATH which gave him as the President all the authority he required to halt this REBELLION , being not a REVOLUTION ,.Politically different in cause .There are two Constitutions which a President gains his authority .The Constitution and the constitution of the actions of previous Presidents,He knew when to use one or the other and that is why he was able to achieve what he set out to achieve
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
Lincoln seems to get a lot of hate from those this forum that support the southern attempt at independence/disunion. However, the evidence I have seen shows that Lincoln did nothing more than follow the precedents set by presidents previous to him. In this thread I would like to discuss if this is true. So I want to limit this discussion to what Presidents either did or said about secession/rebellion/disunion while in office. Looking for evidence, from the time and sourced, on whether Lincoln did or did not follow precedent.

This post is not to discuss whether what these presidents did was right/wrong just if it was a precedent that Lincoln followed.

I’ll begin with a list of actions/statements by Presidents that, to me, show Lincoln followed precedent in dealing with the situation in 1860-61.

1)George Washington June 8, 1763;
“It is indispensable to the happiness of the individual states, that there should be lodged somewhere, a supreme power to regulate and govern the general concerns of the…republic, without which the Union cannot be of long duration. That there must be a faithful and pointed compliance on the part of every state, with the…proposals and demands of Congress, or the most fatal consequences will ensue; that whatever measures have a tendency to dissolve the Union, or contribute to violate or lessen the sovereign authority, ought to be considered as hostile to the liberty and independency of America, and the authors of them treated accordingly….[W]ithout an entire conformity to the spirit of the Union, we cannot exist as an independent power.

Here the father of our country says that measures that might dissolve the Union should be considered hostile and treated accordingly. I would assume what he meant with treated accordingly is put down by force as he did in the whiskey rebellion.

2)James Monroe- in 1812, parts of New England tried to secede. Monroe ordered troops (23rd and 25th regiments) into Hartford Conn, where a convention on dissolution was being held by secessionist federalists in order to put down secessionism.

3)Andrew Jackson-issued the nullification proclamation which stated”disunion by armed force is treason.” Also said; “if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.’ Also ordered his secretary of war to plan for putting down secession if South Carolina did vote to secede.

4)Zachary Taylor-February 1850, after some incensed southern leaders threatened secession, Zachary angrily told them that he personally would lead the army if it became necessary in order to enforce federal laws and preserve the Union.

5)James Buchanan- states that secession was unconstitutional but also that the federal government did not have any authority to stop it. However did later say this to the commissioners of South Carolina;
“It is not believed that any attempt will be made to expel the United States from this property by force; but if in this I should prove to be mistaken, the officer in command of the forts has received orders to act strictly on the defensive. In such a contingency, the responsibility for consequences would rightfully rest upon the heads of the assailants.”

This statement, to me, shows even Buchanan would have used force if South Carolina had fired on Fort Sumter.

Look forward to hearing what other site members think on this question.
No body but Lincoln made a sneak attack with war ships and 200 men to attack South Carolina.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Lincoln seems to get a lot of hate from those this forum that support the southern attempt at independence/disunion. However, the evidence I have seen shows that Lincoln did nothing more than follow the precedents set by presidents previous to him. In this thread I would like to discuss if this is true. So I want to limit this discussion to what Presidents either did or said about secession/rebellion/disunion while in office. Looking for evidence, from the time and sourced, on whether Lincoln did or did not follow precedent.

This post is not to discuss whether what these presidents did was right/wrong just if it was a precedent that Lincoln followed.

I’ll begin with a list of actions/statements by Presidents that, to me, show Lincoln followed precedent in dealing with the situation in 1860-61.

1)George Washington June 8, 1763;
“It is indispensable to the happiness of the individual states, that there should be lodged somewhere, a supreme power to regulate and govern the general concerns of the…republic, without which the Union cannot be of long duration. That there must be a faithful and pointed compliance on the part of every state, with the…proposals and demands of Congress, or the most fatal consequences will ensue; that whatever measures have a tendency to dissolve the Union, or contribute to violate or lessen the sovereign authority, ought to be considered as hostile to the liberty and independency of America, and the authors of them treated accordingly….[W]ithout an entire conformity to the spirit of the Union, we cannot exist as an independent power.

Here the father of our country says that measures that might dissolve the Union should be considered hostile and treated accordingly. I would assume what he meant with treated accordingly is put down by force as he did in the whiskey rebellion.

2)James Monroe- in 1812, parts of New England tried to secede. Monroe ordered troops (23rd and 25th regiments) into Hartford Conn, where a convention on dissolution was being held by secessionist federalists in order to put down secessionism.

3)Andrew Jackson-issued the nullification proclamation which stated”disunion by armed force is treason.” Also said; “if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.’ Also ordered his secretary of war to plan for putting down secession if South Carolina did vote to secede.

4)Zachary Taylor-February 1850, after some incensed southern leaders threatened secession, Zachary angrily told them that he personally would lead the army if it became necessary in order to enforce federal laws and preserve the Union.

5)James Buchanan- states that secession was unconstitutional but also that the federal government did not have any authority to stop it. However did later say this to the commissioners of South Carolina;
“It is not believed that any attempt will be made to expel the United States from this property by force; but if in this I should prove to be mistaken, the officer in command of the forts has received orders to act strictly on the defensive. In such a contingency, the responsibility for consequences would rightfully rest upon the heads of the assailants.”

This statement, to me, shows even Buchanan would have used force if South Carolina had fired on Fort Sumter.

Look forward to hearing what other site members think on this question.
Great research 👍! Definitely ends the nonsense that the US was originally made up of thirteen independent nations.
Leftyhunter
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
An aside. The supposed intention of New England to secede is a "popular myth" because of a misreading of history. There was talk among members of a specific political party--but such a thing never even was proposed in the Hartford Convention. The president sent Thomas Jessup to assess the situation.
A very good point. In fact the Connecticut delegates' terms of appointment to attend included the express instruction “to do nothing inconsistent with the state's obligation to the union.”
 

BuckeyeWarrior

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Location
Ohio
No body but Lincoln made a sneak attack with war ships and 200 men to attack South Carolina.
Yet those warships did not fire on the South Carolina batteries. In fact they had orders to not fire unless fired upon. Lincoln was doing the same thing Jackson did during the nullification crisis, resupplying American Forts. The difference being South Carolina didn't fire on the Forts when Jackson resupplied them. If they had I think Jackson would have made Sherman's march to the sea look like an afternoon stroll.
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
Lincoln didn’t send one ship to resupply, he sent an armed flotilla.
You and I both know, they were not going to enter the harbor.
The failure of the Peace Commissioners and knowing the flotilla was on the way what was going to happen in a Charleston. No one else setup a war like Lincoln that cost the lives of over 600,000 Americans.
 

NDR 5 th NY

Private
Silver Patron
Joined
Nov 17, 2019
Location
Lumberton, NC
Yet those warships did not fire on the South Carolina batteries. In fact they had orders to not fire unless fired upon. Lincoln was doing the same thing Jackson did during the nullification crisis, resupplying American Forts. The difference being South Carolina didn't fire on the Forts when Jackson resupplied them. If they had I think Jackson would have made Sherman's march to the sea look like an afternoon stroll.
If my memory serves me correctly, Jackson sent a letter to Calhoun stating that he would have 75000 troops in South Carolina in six weeks and he was certain they could find a suitable hanging tree. I don’t believe for one minute that Calhoun doubted Jackson word. Jackson hung a 18 year old soldier who followed in his superior officer early from picket duty during the war of 1812. He also hung two British diplomats who came to his camp he labeled as spies. If Jackson had been President in 1860, the firebrands in South Carolina would not have been successful in calling for Succession.
 

NDR 5 th NY

Private
Silver Patron
Joined
Nov 17, 2019
Location
Lumberton, NC
If my memory serves me correctly, Jackson sent a letter to Calhoun stating that he would have 75000 troops in South Carolina in six weeks and he was certain they could find a suitable hanging tree. I don’t believe for one minute that Calhoun doubted Jackson word. Jackson hung a 18 year old soldier who followed in his superior officer early from picket duty during the war of 1812. He also hung two British diplomats who came to his camp he labeled as spies. If Jackson had been President in 1860, the firebrands in South Carolina would not have been successful in calling for Succession.
I recommend reading HW Brands biography of Jackson. It is a very well written.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Lincoln didn’t send one ship to resupply, he sent an armed flotilla.
You and I both know, they were not going to enter the harbor.
The failure of the Peace Commissioners and knowing the flotilla was on the way what was going to happen in a Charleston. No one else setup a war like Lincoln that cost the lives of over 600,000 Americans.
What exact law did Lincoln violate as commander in chief by sending the the USB to Charleston? What statutory or case law mandated that Lincoln negotiate with the so called Peace Commissioners ?
The US Constitution specifically allows the President of the US to use force to squash a rebellion plus you already been provided examples of such during the Antebellum era. Per actual statutory or case law what exact law or case law did Lincoln violate?
Leftyhunter
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
If my memory serves me correctly, Jackson sent a letter to Calhoun stating that he would have 75000 troops in South Carolina in six weeks and he was certain they could find a suitable hanging tree. I don’t believe for one minute that Calhoun doubted Jackson word. Jackson hung a 18 year old soldier who followed in his superior officer early from picket duty during the war of 1812. He also hung two British diplomats who came to his camp he labeled as spies. If Jackson had been President in 1860, the firebrands in South Carolina would not have been successful in calling for Succession.
They would have been as ready for Jackson as they were for Lincoln.
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Lincoln destroyed the 1s Amendment of the Constitution against his own people.
You need to educate yourself about the CSA - including its multiple suspensions of the writ of habeas corpus (sound familiar?); the Sequestration Act; the 1862 declaration of martial law in Petersburg; and such other incidents as Confederate authorities arresting a Florida newspaper correspondent on the same day Fort Sumter was fired upon and holding him without trial. Check to see whether Confederate military prisons contained political prisoners throughout the war. You might be surprised.
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
You need to educate yourself about the CSA - including its multiple suspensions of the writ of habeas corpus (sound familiar?); the Sequestration Act; the 1862 declaration of martial law in Petersburg; and such other incidents as Confederate authorities arresting a Florida newspaper correspondent on the same day Fort Sumter was fired upon and holding him without trial. Check to see whether Confederate military prisons contained political prisoners throughout the war. You might be surprised.
As long as I have been posting here your subject has been discussed numerous times. Perhaps I can Recommend the CWT archives to you.
 
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