The Civil War remains one of the most tragic national crises in America's history. The destructive warfare killed twice as many Americans as died in World War II (Owens). Lincoln, in deciding to free the slaves, made the war into the unequivocal fight for slavery. He was able to justify the deaths of so many, as retribution for the sin of slavery. Lincoln went to great lengths to preserve the Union, even at the cost of certain civil liberties. Undoubtedly, his actions and policies during that time of revolution were venerable.
Lincoln curtailed many civil liberties during the war. He took what he believed to be necessary measures to prevent the death of the Union, and the end of republicanism. Saving the Union meant emergency measures that can be considered unconstitutional. Despite such opinions, Lincoln justified his policies on constitutional grounds (Owens). His measures included declaring martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in certain locations.
He blockaded Southern ports, and shut down oppositional newspapers. At one point, convinced that the Maryland legislature would vote for secession, he ordered Federal troops to arrest and pro-secessionist lawmakers. Lincoln justified this action on the grounds that there evidence of their cooperation with those in armed rebellion (Blum). "Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?"(Ashland). Lincoln can hardly be criticized for placing the Union above a few constitutional technicalities.
Even more controversial than suspending certain civil liberties was Lincoln's decision to issue the Emancipation. Lincoln's goal was first and foremost to save the Union. "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I...