Frank Williams: What legal authority did President Lincoln have to call up 75,000 troops to defend Washington and to order the blockade of most Southern ports?

Chairman of The Lincoln Forum


The Union defeat at Bull Run was a wake-up call for the President, as commander-in-chief, and for the North. Lincoln began drafting orders to expand the Union effort by pressing the contest not only in Virginia but in Tennessee, too. Other engagements in western Virginia in the east and Wilson’s Creek, Lexington and Belmont in the West as well as along the coast foreshadowed a conflict that would not be brief. Once the “dogs of war” were loose the outcome and length of the conflict became indeterminate due, in part, to the varying ineptitude and competence of the political and military leaders on both sides.

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