War Power of the President

8 beds corpus shall not be suspended, unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it,” is not a grant of the power to suspend it, as superficial statesmen seem to suppose ; but merely a limitation of the power, which it implies, is granted to somebody, in some other part of the Constitution. And the fact that this limitation is found in the article devoted chiefly to the legislative department, does not imply that the power is in Congress ; for the section in which it stands contains limitations and prohibitions clearly applying to others as well as to Congress. The power in question grows out of the constitutional facts that this is a government; that it has a right to perpetuate itself, and that the power is a necessary incident to the unlimited power to suppress rebellion, which is committed to the hands of the President, as I have tried to elucidate. It may be added, furthermore, in respect to this whole matter, that independently of the specific constitutional charge that is upon the President to suppress rebellion, as I have tried to set it forth, his constitutional appointment to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy, without prescribing the powers of that office, invests him with all the usual powers of a commander-in-chief, as recognized by the usages of civilized nations. By this criterion, he is the supreme ruler in all that appertains to the conduct of a war. His primary business is to subdue the enemy, and his discretion in the use of the means placed in his hands to that end, is limited only by the laws of nations, and the Constitution as hereinbefore set forth. His commands 4n this behalf, limited as aforesaid, are the law of the land for the time, and supercede whatever civil laws may be in conflict with them ; for war—civil war especially—is an appeal above the civil laws, and not the execution of them. This being so, it needs no argument to prove that anything whatever, in any part of the country, that tends to impede the progress of the national army in suppressing this rebellion, by strengthening or encouraging the enemy, or otherwise, directly or indirectly, may be lawfully suppressed by military authority. Now, a word as to the clamor about despotism, and the danger of the subversion of the Constitution and the people’s liberties. War partakes very much .of the character of despotism, the best way we can fix it; necessarily so, in the nature of things ; recognized to be so by the laws of nations, and so accepted by our Constitution; so that it is no subversion of the Constitution for a war to be carried on