Score 1 for United Government

Something I wrote a few days ago has piqued the interest of a supporter of “divided” government (see We Should Expect Divided Government for a Long Time and associated comments below).

Coincidentally, I just read about President Lincoln addressing Congress after the attack on Fort Sumter. Lincoln had raised a volunteer army to defend the Union, but without Congressional approval, since Congress was out of session and not due back for months. He summoned Congress back for a summer session and made his case (I’m quoting from The Man Who Saved the Union by H. W. Brands):

“These measures, whether strictly legal or not, were ventured upon under what appeared to be a popular demand and a public necessity, trusting then as now that Congress would readily ratify them” He requested authority to expand the army to 400,000 men at a cost of 400 million dollars. “A right result, at this time, will be worth more to the world than ten times the men and ten times the money…”

“This issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or a democracy – a government of the people, by the same people – can, or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its domestic foes… Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?… It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry any election can also suppress a rebellion.”

Since the Democratic Party’s Southern wing had disappeared (i.e. joined the Confederacy) and its Northern wing had lost its leader (Stephen Douglas had recently died of typhoid fever), the Republicans now had a large majority in both houses. Congress immediately ratified Lincoln’s previous actions and approved his request for more men and money. In fact, they voted for 500,000 men and 500 million dollars, more than Lincoln asked for.

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