Williams column missed point of law


Walter Williams in his column “Defining Abraham Lincoln” accuses Lincoln of hypocrisy in the Emancipation Proclamation for only freeing those slaves of states in rebellion and not in the loyal slave Border States, and for justifying it strictly as a war measure to suppress the rebellion.

I am surprised that Professor Williams does not know this, but the Constitution forbade the federal government from interfering with state law regarding slavery.

The only legal justification for a federal proclamation of emancipation was to suppress a rebellion. For the president to have based his proclamation on any other cause would have readily invited a Supreme Court challenge to have it overturned.

It hardly seems fair to accuse Lincoln of hypocrisy when his authority was restricted from acting otherwise.

Jeffrey Eling