Magazine July 27, 2020, Issue

On Abraham Lincoln

(Roman Genn )
‘Great emancipator’ is right

‘The moment I was president,” sighed Abraham Lincoln in the spring of 1864, people “seemed to think . . . I had the power to abolish slavery.” He didn’t. And despite the demands, the pressure, and even the bullying of abolitionists, politicians, and journalists, he was correct. American slavery, as it existed before 1861 and the outbreak of the Civil War, was a creation of state statutes. In an era that knew nothing about an “incorporation doctrine” requiring the conformity of state law with the federal Constitution, a jurisprudential firewall separated the authority of the federal government (and of Lincoln,

This article appears as “Abraham Lincoln” in the July 27, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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Allen C. GuelzoMr. Guelzo is the senior research scholar in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University and the director of the James Madison Program’s Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship.

In This Issue

A Defense of America

Books, Arts & Manners

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U.S.

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I  worked in the criminal-justice system for a quarter century. It is run, day-to-day, by the crème de la crème of graduates from America’s top law schools. Those institutions wear their progressive bona fides on their sleeves and proclaim it for all the world to hear. In their offhand rhetoric — ... Read More
U.S.

Systemic Racism? Make Them Prove It.

I  worked in the criminal-justice system for a quarter century. It is run, day-to-day, by the crème de la crème of graduates from America’s top law schools. Those institutions wear their progressive bona fides on their sleeves and proclaim it for all the world to hear. In their offhand rhetoric — ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Replacing Ginsburg

While we did not agree with many of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views about the Constitution or the judicial function, we never doubted her industry, dedication, gumption, civility, or patriotism. We send our condolences to all who mourn her passing. Justice Ginsburg almost certainly had more fans than any ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Replacing Ginsburg

While we did not agree with many of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views about the Constitution or the judicial function, we never doubted her industry, dedication, gumption, civility, or patriotism. We send our condolences to all who mourn her passing. Justice Ginsburg almost certainly had more fans than any ... Read More