Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 353
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James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
 
Page 353
 
 
emancipation; but, if they had allowed themselves to be influenced in a reasonable degree by their own conviction that slavery was morally wrong, they could, with patriotism and consistency, have adopted the position that the proclamation was a military order, and having been made, should be executed. If they had abandoned the pursuit of an impossible attainment and the policy of hindering the President and Congress in the exercise of their prerogatives, there would still have remained scope for a healthy opposition which would not have left the name Copperhead-Democrat a reproach for so many years; in truth, the Democrats might have deserved well of the muse of history. In point of fact they performed a real service to the country in advocating economy and integrity in the disposition of the public money, and they might have gone further and applauded Chase in his efforts to secure the one and Stanton in his determination to have the other. Their criticisms of the Executive for suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, for the arbitrary arrests and for the abridgment of the freedom of speech and of writing were justly taken, and undoubtedly had an influence for the good on legislation. Had they concentrated their opposition on these points their arguments would have carried greater force and would have attracted men who were disturbed by these infractions of personal liberty but who were repelled by the remainder of the Democratic program.  16
  In consideration of our own practice, the decision of our courts, the opinions of our statesmen and jurists, and English precedents for two centuries, it may be affirmed that the right of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was vested by the Constitution in Congress and not in the Executive. The President, in assuming that authority and applying the suspension to States beyond the sphere of
 

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