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The Fate of Liberty Summary
Mark E. Neely, Jr.

Everything you need to understand or teach The Fate of Liberty by Mark E. Neely, Jr..

  • The Fate of Liberty Summary & Study Guide
  • 30 The Fate of Liberty Lessons
  • 20 Activities
  • 180 Multiple Choice Questions
  • 60 Short Essay Questions
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The Fate of Liberty Summary

Plot Summary

The Fate of Liberty examines how Abraham Lincoln, his administration, and the military understand, practice, and justify the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and imposition of martial law during the Civil War. It concludes the practices are expedient in the context and provide no precedents for the future, should a similar crisis arise.

Lincoln is inaugurated Mar. 4, 1861. He is ill prepared to hold the union together, and advised that martial law cannot be applied to civilians and Congress alone can suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Maryland rioters cutting rail lines to Washington and legislators debating secession prompt Lincoln to suspend the writ locally as a practical military consideration, not a political measure. His authority challenged by Chief Justice Taney in Merryman, Lincoln tells Congress he exercises war powers sparingly, by popular demand, and for the public good. Historians vilify Seward for aggressiveness and efficiency, but...

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