The Great Suspender’s Unconstitutional Suspension of the Great Writ
The Emancipation Proclamation leads many Americans to regard Abraham Lincoln as the “Great Emancipator.” Others are not so laudatory, doubting whether he did enough to end the South’s “peculiar institution.” These observers regard Lincoln as principally concerned with saving the Union, rather than ending slavery. There is a more fitting title for Lincoln, one utterly beyond cavil. Call him “The Great Suspender of the Great Writ.” He undoubtedly earned this sobriquet, having suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or delegated suspension authority almost a dozen times. He also has the distinction of being the only President ever to suspend the privilege of the Great Writ unilaterally and the only one to do so throughout the nation.