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Debate Over War Powers

William T. Alexander


History of the colored race in America: containing also their ancient and modern life in Africa ... the origin and development of slavery ... the civil war, emancipation, education and advancement of the colored race. New Orleans: Palmetto Pub. Co., 1887.

Alexander writes about the origin and development of slavery, its introduction to the Americas; the slave trade; slavery and its abolition, the Civil War, emancipation, the education and advancement African Americans and their civil and political rights. The frontispiece contains engravings of five of the first African Americans to serve in the United States Congress.


  • John R. Lynch (1847–1939) served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1869 to 1872. In 1872 he was elected as the first African American Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, as well as, elected to Congress.
  • Joseph H. Rainey (1832–1887) was the first African–American man to be elected to the House of Representatives and served from 1870 to 1879.
  • Blanche K. Bruce (1841–1898) represented Mississippi as a Republican in the Senate from 1875 to 1881 and was the first elected non–white senator to serve a full term.
  • Hiram R. Revels (1822–1901) was the first Black Republican senator in Mississippi and served from 1870 to 1871.
  • James T. Rapier (1837–1883) served in the House of Representatives from 1873 to 1875. He was one of Alabama’s three black congressmen during Reconstruction.

Samuel Sullivan Cox


Union–disunion–reunion: three decades of federal legislation, 1855 to 1885: personal and historical memories of events preceding, during and since the American civil war, involving slavery and secession, emancipation and reconstruction, with sketches of prominent actors during these periods. Providence, R.I.: J.A. and R.A. Reid, 1885.

Samuel S. Cox (1824–1889) was a Democrat from Ohio and a member of Congress for twenty–four years. Cox was adamantly opposed to the Civil War and was one of President Lincoln’s harshest critics. However, he did not support the expansion of slavery and did vote in support of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Charles M. Ellis


The power of the commander–in–chief to declare martial law, and decree emancipation: as shown from B.R. Curtis. Boston: A. Williams & Co., 1862.

President Lincoln’s war powers were fiercely debated and the validity and legality of the Emancipation was contested. Associate Supreme Court Justice, Benjamin R. Curtis (1809–1874), was one of two dissents in the Dred Scott Case and resigned in 1857 due in part to his disagreement with the court ruling. Here Ellis uses Curtis’s reasoning’s to argue in favor of President Lincoln’s right to declare martial law and that the Emancipation Proclamation was legally binding.

George H. Yeaman


Speech of Hon. Geo. H. Yeaman, of Kentucky: on the President's proclamation, delivered in the House of Representatives, December 18th, 1862. Baltimore: Printed by John Murphy & Co., 1863.

George H. Yeaman (1829–1908) was a Representative from Kentucky served in the House from 1862 to 1865. In this speech he addressed to the House of Representatives in 1862, Yeaman argues strongly against the emancipation proclamation. He calls into question Lincoln’s war power and martial law. He feared the destruction of the government and the Union and did not believe that slavery was a factor in causing the rebellion.


Robert Dale Owen


The policy of emancipation: in three letters to the Secretary of War, the President of the United States, and the Secretary of the Treasury. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1863.

Scottish immigrant, Robert Dale Owen (1801–1877) settled in Indiana and served in the House of Representatives from 1843 to 1847. Owen was a minority in the Democratic Party, as he opposed slavery. In September 1862, these three letters were written to President Lincoln, Edward Stanton and Salmon Chase urging the abolition of slavery. Three days after receipt of Owen’s letter, the cabinet heard Lincoln read his Emancipation Proclamation.







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01/28/13

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