Introduce the lesson by discussing the importance of understanding the appropriate allocation of power in waging war. What may happen if the president has too much or too little power to wage war? It may be helpful to discuss post-World War II conflicts in which the use of presidential power was/is seen as controversial, such as Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya.
Students will individually analyze parts of Articles I and II of the Constitution at the website listed above in order to better understand how war powers should be allocated. Students may refer to the complete text of the two articles in their textbook. They will answer the following questions:
1. Article I describes the powers of which branch of government?
2. According to the Constitution, what war powers does Congress have?
3. According to the Constitution, what war powers does the president have?
4. Under what situations may the writ of habeas corpus be suspended?
5. Who has the authority to suspend the writ of habeas corpus? Explain
Briefly discuss the following controversial actions that Lincoln took: blockaded southern ports (a blockade is considered an act of war), shut down newspapers, called for more troops, suspended habeas corpus, and ordered navy to buy more warships (appropriation act requiring congressional approval). Do students feel that these actions are justified?
Break students into groups of four, with each student being responsible for documents covering two topics that deal with Lincoln’s handling of the war. Students will complete document analysis worksheets (http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/document.html) on their two documents, while looking for clues as to whether Lincoln’s actions were constitutional and/or justified. The teacher should circulate around the room helping students as needed. Students will then report to the rest of their group. Finally, the group, after hearing each member’s findings will present their verdict on whether Lincoln’s actions were constitutional and why in a short presentation of five to ten minutes.
1. Proclamation Calling Militia and Convening Congress: http://www.historyplace.com/lincoln/proc-1.htm
2. Proclamation of Blockade Against Southern Ports: http://www.historyplace.com/lincoln/proc-2.htm
3. Letter to Winfield Scott: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=414
4. Habeas corpus and Ex Parte Merryman: http://www.nps.gov/fomc/historyculture/the-writ-of-habeus-corpus.htm; http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=442
5. Special Session Message, July 4, 1861: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1861lincoln-special.asp
6. Proclamation Suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=425
7. Ex parte Milligan: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/antebellum/landmark_exparte.html; http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Class/pol325/Milligan.htm
8. Ex parte Vallandigham: http://www.oyez.org/cases/1851-1900/1863/1863_2; http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/P?mal:1:./temp/~ammem_2TVK::