Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Abe Lincoln did WHAT???

Good old honest Abe. He succeeded a president named Buchanan. And now he's accused of something he didn't do by another Buchanan. Courtesy of the website, I saw this transcript from Pat Buchanan's appearance on the "Morning Joe" program on MSNBC:

"Lincoln ordered the Chief Justice of the United States arrested."

Of course, Lincoln did no such thing to Chief Justice Roger Taney. Buchanan's assertion sent me scurrying to my bookshelf to peruse James Simon's book Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney (2006) and the chapter on the Civil War era in Geoffrey Stone's Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime (2004). I had to double check, just to be one hundred percent certain that in my reading of these two books and everything else I've ever looked at on the legal history of our country, I hadn't missed something as memorable as a President having the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court arrested.

Taney remained a free man during the portion of Lincoln's administration he was fortunate enough to live in. (He died on October 12, 1864 at the age of 87, Simon p. 265). Lincoln didn't arrest Taney. He probably thought about it, but then again Pat Buchanan has probably on occasion thought, "What the hell am I doing on MSNBC?"

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