The clashes between President Abraham Lincoln and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney over slavery, secession, and the president's constitutional war powers ...Show synopsisThe clashes between President Abraham Lincoln and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney over slavery, secession, and the president's constitutional war powers are vividly brought to life in this compelling story of the momentous tug-of-war between these two men during the worst crisis in American history.Hide synopsis
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James F. Simon starts his work with a chapter each on Taney and Lincoln to provide a bit of their history. Points brought out in his discussion of the slavery issue raise questions in one's mind of who really started the Civil War. While it is said that when meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe Lincoln said something like "the little lady who started the war", I would suggest Steven Douglas gave it a greater impetus by his actions to get elected to the Illinois Senate. Though Taney is infamous for the Dred Scott decision he had freed his slaves before the Civil War He was essentially a states rights advocate and strict constructionist most of the time. Lincoln was a politician who did his homework and was able to ask questions of Douglas circa 1858 that required him to take a stand that perhaps kept Douglas from being elected President in 1860.
Taney was against many of the actions Lincoln took during the Civil War in response to 'seditious' activity in the border states. Lincoln had suspended Habeas Corpus and expanded Presidential War Powers Taney took actions, e.g. not scheduling circuit court cases so that his 'acquaintances' would not be tried for treason and wrote opinions in the hopes that cases would arise regarding those powers. Simon notes Lincoln did not appear to be extreme in his war time actions compared to other presidents. He didn't "encourage the systematic prosecution of his political critics, as did Adams in 1798;" nor did he put large segments of the population in concentration camps as did Roosevelt to Japanese Americans in WW II; nor did he "attempt to escape judicial scrutiny in the name of National Security, as the Bush Administration has repeatedly done in prosecuting the War on Terrorism...."
I found the book a very interesting read during the month of Lincoln's birth.
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