Under a reconciliation between republican and despotick principles, effected by the new idea of u201Csovereign servants,u201D our legislatures are converted into British parliaments, daily new-modeling the substance of our government, by bodies politick, exclusive privileges, pensions, bounties, and judicial acts, comprising an arbitrary power of dispensing wealth or poverty to individuals and combinations at their pleasure…. If our system of government produces these bitter fruits naturally, it is substantially European; and the world, after having contemplated with intense interest and eager solicitude the experiment of the United States, will be surprised to find, that no experiment at all has been made, and that it still remains to be discovered, whether a political system preferable to the British be within the scope of human capacity.
~ John Taylor of Caroline, Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated (Richmond: 1820; preface, emphasis added)
I. The Problem Stated
One of the unintended consequences of the present moment, in which so many wars are on offer, is that we are forced to ask really fundamental questions. War powers have been invoked constantly of late, and not merely by sly inference. We are told in so many words that, if Lincoln could arrest everyone who seemed suspicious to him, why George Bush II can – and must – do the same to those who seem suspicious to him. The war power is thus a potentially large, if insufficiently controversial, topic.
All the bad u201Cprecedentsu201D from Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, and others, are being shown off for our admiration. It is claimed that, taken together, these actions add up somehow to a body of doctrine, folklore, or something, on which u201Cweu201D can now act, and the Devil take the hindmost. Even so, the basic concepts, under which the current saviors-of-the-union mean to go forward, are nowhere set forth in any very satisfactory way.
Short of agreeing from the outset with the conclusions that will inevitably be drawn by the friends of the war power, we can make little headway on this front unless we are ready to put the entire construct under citizen's arrest and u201Cinterrogateu201D it ruthlessly under the bare light bulb of history. For this very reason, it pays to read the writings of those who adhere to the war power, giving it aid and comfort. Such persons often set the problem up with great clarity and see very well what is at stake. Their work can shed much light on things.
So it is, when Professor Robert F. Turner, a practitioner of National Security Law (whatever that might be), comments on the views of those who have objected to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of August 1964 as u201Ca blank check.u201D Such arguments, he perceptively writes, actually u201Cundercut the cherished myth that Congress was not a full partner in committing the United States to war in Indochina and ignored the reality that u2018declarations of war' were by their nature u2018blank checks.'u201D 
Precisely: a palpable hit!
Professor Turner has got something here, though that something may not be what he thinks it is, and his insight may lead us far afield. We must hold that thought: a declaration of war is a blank check. This is the penknife that will unravel the Gordian knot. If we don't want blank checks drawn indefinitely on the public liberty and on civil society, we shall wish to investigate farther, declarations of war and other such appliances in relation to the much-mooted war power.
We have been hearing a great deal, lately, of war and wars, some fairly real, like the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, some abstract and hypothetical – with the hypotheses stretched to the limits – like the notion of u201CWorld War IV,u201D apparently defined as a crusade against the third religion of the Book. The arrival of a u201Cwar,u201D real or hypothetical, inevitably calls forth the claim that all manner of things may be done under the government's u201Cwar powersu201D sometimes further abstracted into that colossal, single thing, u201Cthe war power.u201D
It is my purpose in what follows to raise a few reasonable doubts about the premises, internal coherence, and consequences of certain doctrines, which are much with us of late. Perhaps, in the end, the ideological structures of absolute sovereignty and endless war powers are sound. Maybe, we should all become believers. I think, however, on the evidence to be reviewed, that we shall at least wish to return a Scottish verdict of u201Cnot provenu201D with regard to those large claims.
II. Liberty vs. Security and Other Phony Balancing Acts
One currently popular rhetorical device holds that during a war, we must sacrifice liberty to security, thereby creating the proper u201Cbalanceu201D so that the war may successfully go on. Presumably, the necromancers on the Supreme Court will calibrate the balance, down to the smallest foot-pound of applicable force, and we shall then go our merry way. Closely allied to this high-wire act is the boneheaded slogan, u201Cthe Bill of Rights is not a suicide pactu201D; which is certainly true on the face of it, since it is called the first thing and not the other. We shall come back to u201Csuicide pacts,u201D anon.
Now, my purpose here is not so much to find definitive answers, as to raise questions along the following lines: Do the boundless war powers or war power (singular) exist? We can see there are a great many trained persons under arms, who take orders, and so on, and who can physically do whatever it is their superiors, civilian and military, can get away with ordering them to do. But still, can any of those superiors make a decent argument as to why anyone in his right mind ought to believe, or would believe, or wish to believe, that such deeds and the war powers supposedly licensing them, by right exist, should exist, or even can exist?
Why not as my colleague Jeff Tucker asks – invoke, say, u201Cthe murder poweru201D or u201Cthe theft poweru201D as they go about their activities? On the face of it, it would make as much sense. Who can reasonably say that these war powers exist except as examples of lawyerly flimflam, successful usurpation, and unpunished crime?
The usual view of the matter was stated by J. Allen Smith in 1930: u201CBy the unchecked act of the government, the country may be placed in a state of war. Constitutional restraints upon governmental authority are then relaxed or entirely suspended. The government as such becomes for all practical purposes supreme….u201D  I merely note in passing the obvious moral hazard, that, if the state can multiply its powers by finding a war, and also has the leeway to go around finding one, one might expect that political leaders wanting greater powers might well go around looking for wars in which to involve their country.
One begins to see the worth of Thomas Paine's comment in The Rights of Man: u201CIn reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice, nor warped by interest, would declare, that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes.u201D 
But, again, why should this be the case at all? Why should we take such a state of affairs to be self-evidently logical, reasonable, or right? And if, indeed, such powers do arise, what then would be their sources or ground? The legal website findlaw.com has this to say:
Three different views regarding the source of the war power found expression in the early years of the Constitution and continued to vie for supremacy for nearly a century and a half. Writing in The Federalist, Hamilton elaborated the theory that the war power is an aggregate of the particular powers granted by Article I, Sec. 8. Not many years later, in 1795, the argument was advanced that the war power of the National Government is an attribute of sovereignty and hence not dependent upon the affirmative grants of the written Constitution. Chief Justice Marshall appears to have taken a still different view, namely that the power to wage war is implied from the power to declare it. In McCulloch v. Maryland, he listed the power u2018to declare and conduct a war' as one of the u2018enumerated powers' from which the authority to charter the Bank of the United States was deduced.
During the era of the Civil War, the two later theories were both given countenance by the Supreme Court. Speaking for four Justices in Ex parte Milligan, Chief Justice Chase described the power to declare war as u2018necessarily' extending u2018to all legislation essential to the prosecution of war with vigor and success, except such as interferes with the command of the forces and conduct of campaigns.' In another case, adopting the terminology used by Lincoln in his Message to Congress on July 4, 1861, the Court referred to u2018the war power' as a u2018single unified power.' …Not until 1936, however, did the Court explain [!] the logical basis for imputing such an inherent power to the Federal Government. 
Thus, some authorities have argued that the war power arises as the sum of constitutional provisions dealing with war. Abraham Lincoln's famous card trick combining the commander-in-chief clause with the clause enjoining the President to enforce the laws is a novel form of this claim. Of this trick, Raoul Berger writes: u201Cwhen nothing is added to nothing the sum remains nothing.u201D  Others put their money on sovereignty, as defined by Sir William Blackstone, namely, that u201Cin every state, there is and must be a supreme, irresistible, absolute, uncontrolled authority, in which the rights of sovereignty reside.u201D  In Britain, this u201Cuncontrolled authorityu201D was held to rest with Parliament (technically, the u201CKing-in-Parliamentu201D).
But however the war power or powers spring forth, what is their reach? The friends of the war powers say they reach life, liberty, property and who knows what else. They justify taxes, conscription, suppression, down to destruction of the whole society, that is, down to total war waged internally in the name of total war externally.  This nods toward the total subordination of everything and everyone to the state's felt need for survival or, alternatively, its felt need for outward expansion in the name of its survival.
According to Black's Law Dictionary, u201CWar power of [the] federal government is the power to wage war successfully…. It embraces every aspect of national defense, including protection of war materials as well as members of armed forces from injury and danger…; but direct interference with liberty and property and abridgement of constitutional guaranties of freedom can be justified under the u2018war power' only where the danger to the government is real, impending and imminent.u201D 
To anticipate a bit, the war powers seem a near-complete inversion of the program of American liberal republicanism. If so, use of them, and even belief in them, would beodd ways to bring about those ends; for why should powers invoked, the better to fight an external enemy, give to our rulers powers over us – powers which the external enemy cannot wield – and may not wish to wield – that is, powers over the citizens allegedly being defended? Who, indeed, is at war with whom?
III. War Power: American Theory and Practice
How vast are the scope and range of the cosmic u201Cwar powersu201D enfolded within the war power? Are they, like the universe, big and wide, covering up the whole outside? Or is the whole game just a well-wrought rationalization for whatever it is that the government just got away with, in a recent war, or aspires to get away with in a new one?
One authority more or less concedes that the latter question should be answered in the affirmative. William A. Dunning, a once-celebrated historian of political theory, trying to torture a coherent theory out of the Lincoln government's practices, two decades after the end of the American u201CCivil War,u201D wrote, u201Cthe basis of the government's war power was held to be the necessity of preserving the Nation. The limit of its application was not the clear expressions of the organic law, but the forbearance of a distracted people.u201D 
Whether or not the war power hovered overhead as a kind of Platonic form, Americans certainly fought, killed, and died, on some basis, during the American Revolution. To the extent they felt a need to have a theory of the war, they fell back on English history and legal precedent, along with contemporary political theory. After the war, much ink was spilled in arguments over who had actually possessed u201Cthe war poweru201D during the Revolution – the Congress, the states, or both together?
Certainly, armies had been raised, battles fought, and enemy property confiscated. Whether it follows that all this had happened under the umbrella of some thing or thing-cluster best understood as a self-evident war power – is quite another matter. In Ware v. Hylton, 1796, the US Supreme Court addressed some of these issues. The case had to do with wartime confiscations in Virginia, and the Court drew great circles and arrowsaround the problem. Virginia had exercised war powers, but so had the Continental Congress, said the Court, without bringing much clarity to the discussion. 
If things were a bit sketchy during the Revolution, the Constitutional Convention did not shed much light, either. There, the chief controversy was between entrusting Congress with u201Cdeclaring waru201D (the terms actually adopted), as against u201Cmaking war.u201D The nature, scope, and extent of any imagined war powers went largely mentioned.
The same thing is in the Federalist Papers. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay deliberately played down the powers they believed to be granted in the new Constitution. Occasionally the mask dropped, since one point alleged in favor on the new u201Cpaperu201D was that the new government would more effectively provide for the common defense. Thus, Hamilton writes in No. 23:
The authorities essential to the common defence are these: to raise armies; to build and equip fleets; to prescribe rules for the government of both; to direct their operations; to provide for their support. These powers ought to exist without limitation…. The circumstances which may endanger the safety of nations are infinite [!], and for this reason no constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is committed. 
But even as they sought to reassure their opponents, the Federalist literary triumvirate built themselves an escape hatch whereby the powers of Congress could be viewed as u201Cenumerated objects,u201D a list of suggestions, or things on which Congress could legislate, rather than as enumerated powers. Powers abounded, by implication, even if the objects of lawmaking were listed. In later years, Hamilton maintained this view, while Madison retreated from it.
It was Antifederalists like Patrick Henry who saw the war power as an unbridled danger looming up from within the proposed Constitution. Warning his audience in the Virginia ratifying convention away from the new u201Cpaper,u201D he said, u201C[a]mong ten thousand implied powers which they may assume, they may, if we be engaged in war, liberate every one of your slaves if they please.u201D 
Now what interests me here is not that last item calculated to disturb Henry's hearers in itself, but the u201Cten thousand implied powersu201D that might be claimed to leap forth from the war power. It is not my purpose to defend an institution and form of property imposed on the colonies by the British crown, but to draw attention to the scale of the confiscation to which Henry alluded. If that much property can be confiscated u201Cunder the war poweru201D – precisely what Lincoln claimed to be doing in 1863 – why cannot some later government seize the car industry, the entertainment industry, and all of healthcare, at the same time, under the same power or powers? Why could it not seize half, two thirds, indeed all, of the economy, all the people, and all their chattels and real estate? 
On the doctrine, as preached by its friends, it could do all that gleefully citing Marshall, Lincoln, Justice Holmes, and a hundred other apologists, as it goes. There is no reason to be a good sport about these implications. It is time to raise questions, even if we shall not get good answers short of finding them ourselves.
President Truman did seize the steel industry during the Korean War, although the Supreme Court held against him without managing, however, to shed much light on the actual limits and dimensions of the war power
It is worth mentioning, along the way, that there was also much discussion, during the ratification debates, of the Constitution's provisions on the state militias, a discussion carried out partly within an inherited language disfavoring u201Cstanding armies.u201D Given that many liberal republican thinkers shared, rather unfortunately, certain assumptions with Thomas Hobbes, it was important to debate the military structure of the new union. After all, if war powers of unknown scope possibly – or even necessarily existed, it was only common sense to limit the number of men under arms. 
IV. The War-Power Concept in the Early Republic
Some writers have held that deductions from sovereignty shore up and hallow the war power or powers. John Taylor of Caroline asked whether this was true or not, in his critique of John Marshall's judicial nationalism in the banking case. In Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated (1820), Taylor sought to refute not just Marshall's decision in McCullough v. Maryland, but also his entire way of reading the Constitution, and with it, his whole political philosophy.
Taylor writes: u201CThe unknown powers of sovereignty and supremacy may be relished, because they tickle the mind with hopes and fears; just as we indulge the taste with Cayenne pepper, though it disorders the health, and finally destroys the body.u201D But, in truth, he continues, u201Cthe term u2018sovereignty,' was sacrilegiously stolen from the attributes of God, and impiously assumed by kings. Though they committed the theft, aristocracies and republicks have claimed the spoil.u201D 
In Taylor's view, Americans had never bought this tired old horse:
Previously to our revolutionary war, the colonies had been thoroughly lectured upon the subjects of sovereignty, supremacy, and a division of powers…. The parliament contended, that the right of making war, conceded by the colonies, implied a right of using all the means necessary for obtaining success; such as raising a revenue, appointing collectors, raising troops, quartering them upon the colonies, and many other internal laws; and that the right of regulating commerce, also involved a right of imposing duties, and establishing custom houses for their collection; arguing, that it would be absurd to allow powers, and with-hold any means necessary or proper for their execution. The colonies replied, that it would be more absurd to limit powers, and yet concede unlimited means for their execution….
I have underscored the last sentence, because it goes to the heart of the thing.
u201C[T]he doctrine of absolute sovereignty,u201D Taylor writes, u201Cwith its indefinite catalogue of appendances, can adduce in its defence many plausible arguments, and enumerate sundry conveniences which might result, from its unlimited capacity to devote both persons and property to whatever purposes it may think proper. What conveniences may arise from the absolute subordination appertaining to it, in war!u201D But this seemed to have little to do with the actual Constitution, for u201C[i]f congress possessed an unlimited power to appropriate the publick money raised by taxes, there was no occasion to specify the objects to which it might be applied, such as to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy.u201D
If we were to follow Marshall's lead, says Taylor, u201C[a]s ends may be made to beget means, so means may be made to beget ends, until the co-habitation shall rear a progeny of unconstitutional bastards, which were not begotten by the people….u201D Great chains of reasoning would lead such conclusions as these: u201CRoads are necessary in war; therefore congress may legislate locally concerning roads.u201D In the same way, horses being even more essential for war, u201Can implied power of legislation, will certainly invest congress with a legislative power over horses.u201D  (Marshall, of course, had cited the war power as one possible source of an implied power to charter the Bank of the United States.  )
In Taylor's view, Americans had never signed on for international jurists' theories of absolute, unitary sovereignty from which such wonderful deductions could be made. Instead, they had instituted strictly limited governments, answerable to the people, governments that were mere trustees or agents of the people.  Thirteen such political societies had further contracted to create a common agent for certain limited ends. Sovereignty in the European or Blackstonian sense never came into it.
Four years after Taylor wrote, John Randolph of Roanoke, speaking in the House of Representatives, asked to know the constitutional basis of proposed survey in aid of federal canal and road building. The bill seemed to rest on u201Cvagrantu201D powers u201Cseeking a settlement under the war-making power. And under this power to make war, sir, what may we not do? Quarter troops upon you; burn your house, sir, or mine; burn your own ships and your navy yards, that the enemy may not have the pleasure of doing it.u201D
u201CWhen,u201D he continued, u201Che considered this war-making power, and the money-raising power, and suffered himself to reflect on the length to which they go, he felt ready to acknowledge that, in yielding these, the States have yielded every thing.u201D  Randolph alluded to Henry's warnings in the Virginia convention.
What Henry and John Randolph of Roanoke warned against, Yankee politicians like John Quincy Adams soon offered as threat. 
V. Threats from the High-Toned John Quincy Adams, and Other Omens
To give the flavor of the war power, as seen by its hangers-on, let us attend to John Quincy Adams threatening the Southern states in April 1842:
but if they come to the free States and say to them you must help us to keep down our slaves, you must aid us in an insurrection and civil war, then I say that with that call comes a full and plenary power to this House and to the Senate over the whole subject. It is a war power. I say it is a war power, and when your country is actually in war, whether it be a war of invasion or a war of insurrection, Congress has power to carry on the war, and must carry it on according to the laws of war; and by the laws of war an invaded country has all its laws and municipal institutions swept by the board, and martial law takes the place of them. 
Another omen came with the so-called Dorr War in Rhode Island, an event fraught with consequences for the emerging war-power discourse. Very briefly, Rhode Island was governed under its colonial charter well into the 19th century. A restrictive franchise, together with failure to reapportion legislative districts, meant that the charter government had become highly unrepresentative. At the beginning of the forties, a democratic mass movement led by such radical proponents of popular sovereignty as Thomas Wilson Dorr drew up a new constitution and submitted it to a popular vote.
Believing they had made their point and carried through a peaceful revolution, these u201CSuffragistsu201D then organized a government, much to the dismay of the standing government. The latter, assured of federal support by President John Tyler, proclaimed martial law and began arresting Suffragist leaders. 
In 1849, the US Supreme Court decided a case arising from an instance of forcible entry and search during the Dorr War (1842). In Luther v. Borden, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, denying the petitioner a remedy, reasoned as follows:
It was a state of war; and the established government resorted to the rights and usages of war to maintain itself, and to overcome the unlawful opposition. And in that state of things the officers engaged in its military service might lawfully arrest any one, who, from the information before them, they had reasonable grounds to believe was engaged in the insurrection; and might order a house to be forcibly entered and searched, when there were reasonable grounds for supposing he might be there concealed. Without the power to do this, martial law and the military array of the government would be mere parade…. 
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Levi Woodbury said of martial law, that if left
the whole population, not only to be seized without warrant or oath, and their houses broken open and rifled, and this where the municipal law and its officers and courts remained undisturbed and able to punish all offences, but to send prisoners, thus summarily arrested in a civil strife, to all the harsh pains and penalties of courts-martial or extraordinary commissions, and for all kinds of supposed offences. By it every citizen, instead of reposing under the shield of known and fixed laws as to his liberty, property, and life, exists with a rope round his neck, subject to be hung up by a military despot at the next lamp-post, under the sentence of some drum-head court-martial.u201D 
Even before the Court ruled on the Dorr War, the Mexican-American War (18461848) had raised the stakes. Congress naturally had occasion to debate war powers a bit.
Congressman Robert Barnwell Rhett of South Carolina opined that a conqueror was, u201Ca despot; he might do what he pleased might cut off the head of a judge if he pleased…. So far as the law of nations was concerned he had a legal right to do his pleasure.u201D After all, inter arma leges silent, though Congress might judge the commander in chief's acts after the fact.
Taking an opposed line, Congressman James A. Seddon of Virginia answered:
[i]t is the boast of modern times, the blessing to Christendom of Christianity and civilization, that in war, as in peace, a code of law to govern all international relations, founded in part on the practices of nations, but more correctly binding, as deduced from the most sacred principles of justice and the highest ethics of morality and humanity, has by general comity and common convictions been established and recognised…. The worst of all conditions for a people is to be without government at all a prey to anarchy and confusion, with their rights, their property, and their persons, at the mercy of the ruffian, or the ravisher, whose excesses no law restrains and no justice punishes. For a conqueror to overthrow an existing polity, and leave a submissive people to such horrors, would be such a tyranny as no principle of humanity or law could tolerate.
In a precedent soon to see widespread use, General Winfield Scott established the first US military commissions in occupied parts of Mexico. He was left somewhat unsupported in this by the Polk administration, which apparently feared that its Jacksonian mass base would react badly at any sign of martial law, even in foreign occupied territory.  Whether or not Scott's courts supplied the kind of law for which Congressman Seddon pleaded – any more than his successors supply it in Iraq may be left to one side.
VI. War Powers Without End: 18611877
In the u201CCivil Waru201D (18611865), the vast, illimitable war power rose to new heights in word and deed, and continued on through Reconstruction, after which even they needed a break.
Benjamin Robbins Curtis, who had served on the US Supreme Court, 18511857, and written a dissenting opinion in the Dred Scott case, emerged as a critic of President Lincoln's theory and practice. In a pamphlet published in 1862, Curtis noted that, Lincoln's various proclamations
place every citizen of the United States under direct military command and control of the President. They declare and define new offences, not known to any law of the United States. They subject all citizens to be imprisoned upon a military order, at the pleasure of the President, when, where, and so long as he, or whoever is acting for him, may choose. They hold the trial before a military commission appointed by the President, or his representative, for such acts or omissions as the President may think proper to decree to be offences; and they subject him to such punishment as such military commission may be pleased to inflict…. 
Curtis rejected Lincoln's claim that he had found such powers in the commander-in-chief clause. He writes: u201CIt must be obvious to the meanest capacity, that if the President of the United States has an implied constitutional right, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy in time of war, to disregard any one positive prohibition of the Constitution, or to exercise any one power not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, because, in his judgment, he may thereby u2018best subdue the enemy,' he has the same right, for the same reason, to disregard each and every provision of the Constitution, and to exercise all power, needful, in his opinion, to enable him u2018best to subdue the enemy.'u201D
Did military law supply the answer? Curtis thought not: u201CIt has no control whatsoever over any person or any property of any citizen.u201D On martial law, he quoted from Justice Woodbury's dissent in Luther v. Borden, already noted above.
Curtis conceded that, once war is declared, power existed to carry on the war, but added that, u201Cthis implied authority must find early limits somewhere. If it were admitted that a commanding general in the field might do whatever in his discretion might be necessary to subdue the enemy, he could levy contributions to pay his soldiers; he could force conscripts into his service; he could drive out of the entire country all persons not desirous to aid him; in short, he would be the absolute master of the country for the time being.u201D In Curtis's view, u201C[n]o one has ever supposed no one will now undertake to maintain that the commander-in-chief, in time of war, has any such lawful authority as this.u201D 
Of course by supporting the war at all, Curtis had somewhat compromised his position. As for those who strongly supported the war and wished it carried on by all possible means, the main quarrel in their camp was between those who believed that Abraham Lincoln possessed the plenary and ineffable war powers and those who found them wholly entrusted to Congress. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was among the latter. Expounding the war powers, he said:
Pray, Sir, where in the Constitution is any limitation of the War Powers? Let Senators who would limit them mention a single section, line, or phrase, which even hints at any limitation…. The War Powers are derived from the Constitution, but once set in motion, are without any restraint from [the] Constitution; so that what is done in pursuance of them is at the same time under the Constitution and outside the Constitution. It is under the Constitution in its beginning and origin; but whether under the Constitution or outside the Constitution, all that is done in pursuance of the War Powers is constitutional…. Once begun, war is a law unto itself, or, in other words, it has a law of its own, which is part of itself. As just in proportion as you seek to moderate it by constitutional limitations do you take from war something of its efficiency.
Elsewhere, Sumner said, of the claim that the President possessed the war powers, that, u201Ca pretension so irrational and unconstitutional, so absurd and tyrannical, is not entitled to respect.u201D  Evidently, then, one despot would be unbearable, but several hundred, calling themselves Congress, just the thing. Lincoln himself had taken much this same position in relation to President Polk's management of the war against Mexico. 
Whoever properly owned the incredible, expanding war power, if it indeed existed, the minions of the United States from1861 through the end of Reconstruction in 1877 undertook all manner of confiscations of private property, enacted conscription, levied new and unprecedented taxes, issued legal-tender paper money, suppressed freedom of speech, assembly, and the press, undertook censorship, suspended the right of habeas corpus, imposed loyalty oaths, and more.
In exculpation of Lincoln's part in the piece, a 20th-century commentator, Andrew C. McLaughlin, offers us this: u201CWhat prevents [arbitrary arrests] becoming the foundation of a despotic government or from being used with crafty cruelty and high injustice? Once again it is the conscience, the moral attitude, the sense of civic duty, and the respect for law in the breast of the man who wields this enormous and dangerous power….u201D  If this argument from Lincoln's Goodness has not reassured everyone, McLaughlin adds that u201CLincoln sought not to magnify the office or to disregard the Constitution but to save it.u201D 
u201CSave itu201D! The Constitution was still in force in the North, over such states as still tarried under it, and a very similar one was in force in the South. Thus, the survival of the Constitution as such seems hardly to come into it.
VII. u2018Martial Law': As Beclouded as the War Power Itself
Now that martial law has intruded itself into our subject as part of, alongside, or possibly merely adjacent in legal-fictional space to the war power or powers, it is time to say a little on that chaotic topic. In 1928, Charles Fairman wrote, u201Cone is bewildered by the haze of uncertainty which envelops the subject.u201D He noted five distinct uses of the term, which added to the confusion. He argued that u201Cmartial ruleu201D would be a more accurate term for the practice. 
Edward S. Corwin, whose life's work it was to assert that English liberty was alive and well in the United States after 1865 or even 1917, notes that u201C[t]he Petition of Right of 1628 forbade u2018commissions of martial law.'u201D There matters largely stood until Luther v. Borden, which endorsed martial law to meet a state-threatening crisis. In Ex parte Milligan (1866), the US Supreme Court held, that u201C[m]artial rule can never exist where the courts are open, and in proper and obstructed exercise of their jurisdiction. It is also confined to the locality of actual war.u201D 
Oddly, u201Ccourts were openu201D in Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, etc., the whole time Lincoln's administration was invading those states and developing martial law, but that, too, is by the way.
In further post-war cases, the US Supreme Court upheld wartime confiscations and other measures, but did not address the question of martial law again. Much later, in the case of Wilson v. New (1917), the Court ruled that u201Calthough an emergency may not call into a life a power which has never lived, nevertheless emergency may afford a reason for the exertion of a living power already enjoyed.u201D  Even allowing for the full array of emanations and penumbras flitting about in the judicial belfry, it is hard to say what that might mean, unless perhaps that martial law is permitted. We shall have enough to do with World War I, directly.
Wigfall Green tells us that, u201CCommon law authority for the military commission is derived from the law of war.u201D He quotes Chief Justice Samuel Chase's dissent in Milligan, where that Lincoln mouthpiece reasoned that power to carry on the war u201Cu2018necessarily extends to all legislation essential to the prosecution war with vigor and success…'u201D He then adduces William E. Birkhimer's treatise on military government, where we find that, u201Cu2018the authority of the President, and of commanders under him, for the establishment of courts in conquered territory is complete….'u201D
This last item seems to mean that if the President can institute military courts out of hand, then every place within US boundaries – u201Cloyalu201D or disloyal is in some sense conquered territory in relation to the people's agents and servants. Now Green brings forward the opinion of an unnamed, later Attorney General: u201Cu2018Many of the offenses against the law of nations for which a man may, by the laws of war, lose his life, his liberty, or his property, are not crimes….'u201D 
This looks to be another (perhaps unintended) palpable hit!
This is stark indeed, even if a little unclear, and implicitly raises one of my standing questions, that is, whether the u201Clawsu201D of war have much to do with law in any useful sense of the word.
The same starkness of doubtful doctrine is found in a strikingly anti-Southern piece written by William A. Dunning in 1886.  Working overtime to justify of Lincoln's measures, he writes:
War is the negation of civil liberties. Granting the power in Congress to recognize certain of its citizens as public enemies in the technical sense, the exercise of that power puts in the hands of the government a control over the life, liberty and property of all whom it so regards, limited only by the dictates of humanity and a respect for the practice of nations…. Such was the theory upon which the exercise of the war power was based by all three departments of the government. 
Later in the same essay, he writes:
In assuming the right to try citizens of loyal states by purely military procedure, Mr. Lincoln asserted the existence of martial law, in its most unlimited sense, throughout the whole United States. Martial law is well understood to be practically no law – merely the unregulated will of a military commander, sanctioned by physical force. Under its sway the whole machinery of civil justice disappears…. The records of the war department contain the reports of hundreds of trials by military commissions, with punishments varying from light fines to banishment and death. Congress, moreover, asserted its control over the subject by indemnifying officers against prosecutions for acts done under the President's orders organizing the commissions. It further gave legal sanction to the military tribunals in the reconstruction acts, though here there was doubt as to whether the status of the region was that of peace or war. 
This contribution may speak for itself.
In a discursive essay published in 1888, Sydney G. Fisher squared even more circles. His task was to prove that the US Constitution rests on a strict enumeration of federal powers and that yet, somehow, Lincoln's war measures all fell within those. These absurdities need not keep us long. Some of his comments along the way are quite interesting, however.
Thus, he observes, that u201C[h]e who declares martial law has already an army with which to enforce his decrees…. Events are stronger than the constitution and stronger than constitutional law.u201D He remarks in a footnote, u201CWashington fought the seven years of the Revolution to a successful end, and never made use of martial law at allu201D – without, apparently, drawing any lesson. Having wrestled at length with his thankless task, he ends by writing, u201Cevery Government, when driven to the wall by a rebellion, will trample down a constitution before it will allow itself to be destroyedu201D  – leaving the lawfulness of the measures treated as much in doubt as when he began.
Historian George Dennison writes that martial law had always had a few defenders in the United States, because u201C[t]he pragmatism of the frontier experience combined with prerogative instrumentalism attracted some advocates all through the years from 1787 to 1840.u201D Among the friends of martial law, we find, not surprisingly, General Andrew Jackson, who proclaimed it in New Orleans in 1814 and arrested those who denied he could lawfully do it. But Jackson found few supporters and was later fined by a judge he had arrested. After the Dorr War and the Mexican War, u201Cby the mid-fifties men on all sides defined martial law as the necessary power of all governments facing challenges of any kind. Instrumentalism of the most positive form pushed aside the older fear of discretionary power.u201D 
Some writers seem to set martial law somewhere outside the fabled, conventional war power. Doubt seems to exist whether or not martial law arises from, or runs parallel to but separate from, that vast sink of raw power. But no less a figure than Union General Henry Halleck wrote that, u201C[m]ilitary commissions… are established by the President by virtue of his war power as commander-in-chief, and have jurisdiction of cases arising under the laws of war.u201D 
Interestingly, full-blown martial law does not seem to have existed either in the United States or Britain at the beginning of the 19th century. If measures were taken to suppress riots or repel invasion, they were said to come under an ordinary common law right, ordinary law was not u201Csuspended,u201D and courts could at least inquire later into what the authorities had done. The well-known 19th-century British jurist A. V. Dicey grounded emergency measures u201Cupon the common law rights and duties of the subject rather than upon any official prerogativeu201D 
Americans were lumbered with the new conception of martial law, partly via Taney’s ruling on the Dorr War and because Winfield Scott established military tribunals in occupied Mexico. In the British case, martial law was not rehabilitated until the Boer War,  which is very interesting in terms of legal-institutional u201Cblowbacku201D from imperial policy. The lesson seems to be this: if you actually want to keep your vaunted Anglo-Saxon liberties, you should go to war only in genuine local self-defense.
VIII. The War Power in the Age of Empire
We may pass over the use of war powers in the Spanish-American War of 1898. Suffice it to say that President William McKinley's use of allegedly available prerogative powers took place mostly overseas, in newly acquired possessions such as the Philippine Islands.  World War I was very different, representing a massive leap forward in state power.
In an article published in 1924, Richard E. Eliel compared the erosion and eradication of civil liberties under the war power in the u201CCivil Waru201D and World War I, the latter still fresh in the public memory. He writes that the Lincoln administration suspended constitutional guarantees out of hand, but had not crafted any very consistent theory of its actions. By contrast, the administration of Woodrow Wilson sidestepped the disputes of the 1860s, which arose between Congress and the Executive, because a rabid and war-crazed Congress legislated everything that Wilson and his subordinates could have wanted.
Congress u201Cdelegatedu201D a vast array of weapons to be used against the American people and their paper-thin u201Cconstitutional rightsu201D – weapons to be wielded under the war power, whether the latter rationally existed or not. Also in contrast to Lincoln's practice, a citizen unlucky enough to be caught in Woodrow's dragnet, would get his day in court for all the good it did him. The courts were as rabid and war-crazed as Congress, and did their level best to ensure that all constitutional provisions that seemed to limit governmental power were smashed into tiny shards. 
Thus, a contributor to a law review could write in 1918 that, if u201Cthe war power has been fettered by provisos which put the liberty of the citizen above the safety of the state, then either the experiment of self-government will prove a failure or the chosen leaders of the people must, when necessary, disregard mere paper barriers…. It would be wiser to adopt that interpretation of the fundamental law which legalizes whatever imperative necessity compels.u201D 
This is precisely what the courts undertook to do, namely, to rationalize wartime actions of the administration which were, on the face of them, violations of the Constitution, as exceptions or implications of unknown emergency powers inherent in the nature of a state, mysterious powers u201Cunderu201D or u201Coutsideu201D the Constitution (doubtless both), as Sumner had said, but nonetheless available to any hysterical public official or private home-guardist who saw someone, somewhere, failing to adopt the most abject posture of instant obedience, in relation to Wilson's New State.
The courts did their work with a vengeance and ruthlessness, which may, indeed, have overshot even the bad intentions of Congress, which had passed various draconian sedition and security acts. Acting under the doctrines (among others) of u201Cbad tendencyu201D and u201Cremote bad tendency,u201D the courts sentenced people to prison terms of ten years or more for such desperate crimes as saying, in a private conversation, that socks knitted for the army by little sewing circles never actually got to the soldiers. Such decisions involved a chain of u201Creasoningu201D in which speech or writing that might conceivably discourage someone from enlisting in the armed forces constituted a dangerous undermining of the war effort, which by another stretch of the imagination might prevent u201Cvictory,u201D which by a further imaginative stretch might lead to the triumph of the Kaiser, which would lead to the creation of a repressive German regime on our shores, a regime certain to be almost as ironhanded as the one being created by the Wilson administration itself.
In one case, a u201Cman was given a long term for declaring that the war should have been financed by taxation instead of by bonds, on the ground that his words tended to discourage the buying of bondsu201D and an u201Cargument against the constitutionality of the Draft Act… was punished with twenty years.u201D Eliel writes, rather mildly, that under such circumstances, u201Calmost any opinion can be found to have some bad tendency in it, particularly by an overwrought and hysterical judge and jury.u201D 
I cannot recount more of these legal follies here, although another writer mentions u201Cthe weird case in which a woman was convicted for saying she wished Woodrow Wilson were in hellu201D  – an opinion shared, as of 1920, by the vast majority of the American people.
If there were any u201Cbad tendenciesu201D abroad in the land, remote or otherwise, they were flowing from the Wilson administration and Congress.
William A. Dunning rationalized Wilson's wartime dictatorship: u201CPresident Wilson's authority, actually exercised, surpassed in variety and scope the wildest dreams of 18611865. He had almost unrestricted control not only of the entire man-power of the nation but also its commerce, industry, finance, and transportation. Even the food and health of the people were subject to his supreme regulation.u201D Even so, Dunning can write complacently that u201Cour latest war, with all its complexities, had no u2018political prisoners' or u2018prisoners of state,' no military arrests, and no suspension of the habeas corpus.u201D (As far as u201Cpolitical prisonersu201D go, one wonders where this man was living during the war!) Further: u201CThe spirit and record of the Wilson administration must give much satisfaction to those who seek an abiding reign of law.u201D 
Certainly, that record will satisfy those who can think that a rule-following despotism embodies the Rule of Law. By contrast, Robert Nisbet writes: u201CThe blunt fact is that when under Wilson America was introduced to the War State in 1917, it was introduced also to what would later be known as the total, or totalitarian, state.u201D  Certainly, US wartime legislation and u201Cjurisprudenceu201D call to mind, as much as anything, the French Revolutionary u201Claw of suspectsu201D of 1793.
Someone with a critical turn of mind might indeed wonder if such rules as Wilson, the Congress, and the courts contrived during World War I, were not – in respect of the rights and liberties of the people – a bit more of a u201Csuicide pactu201D than the Bill of Rights is sometimes said to be, if taken too seriously. If those rules and laws were constitutional, then the Constitution itself, and not the first ten amendments, owes us some answers.
IX. Back in the U.S.S.A.
World War II repeated the industrial mobilization, u201Cwar socialismu201D (actually, corporatism), and repression of the First World War, and at higher levels of production. There was less dissent to suppress, because the Pearl Harbor attack cut off debate, naturally enough, and because people who had lived through Wilson's reign of terror already knew what could happen to them. The second war gave us total war, nuclear bombs, and an attendant cult of Big Science and state secrecy.
Forty some years of Cold War made for a permanent state of partial mobilization withinwhich state power could expand and prosper with little opposition. u201CVagrant powersu201D – to use John Randolph's phrase – abounded, and with them a willful blurring of the distinction between war and peace. As E. C. Stowell wrote in 1908:
Governments are not loath to have the definition of what constitutes war shrouded in mystery; for in the greater number of States possessing a parliamentary form of government the decision to make war is hedged about with formalities and special constitutional requirements, and governments have in the past and are likely in the future to find it convenient to resort to measures of war while maintaining that no war exists. 
Lately, we have seen that it works the other way around, as well.
Further, it may be that we don’t debate u201Cmartial lawu201D and other emanations of the war power much these days, precisely because, with standing police forces and bureaucracies, modern states have most of the surplus powers that kings had to scare up through a war, war scare, or state-of-siege. Consider that in Luther v. Borden (1849), the plaintiff complained that the charter government of Rhode Island sent men to break into his house, search it, and apprehend him.
Now, practically any social worker, snoop, building inspector, and the like, from the city, the county, the state, or the Feds, could probably do all those things, as part of normal procedure. To that extent, followers of Jrgen Habermas are right about the u201Ccolonization of the lifeworldu201D by the law, even if they get rather low mileage out of the insight. 
A recent essay by William E. Scheuerman is interesting in this regard. He writes that, u201Cthe scope of economic emergency powers has increased significantly in most liberal democracies since the nineteenth century. Initially a mere supplement to wartime emergency powers, executive-dominated emergency economic regulation now represents a more or less permanent feature of political life…u201D 
This and related matters have brought us by now to an historical search for the beginnings of the war power, a quest which is intertwined with the invention of sovereignty.
X. The War Power Over Time, Or How the State u2018Suicide Pact' Arose
The great constitutional historian C. H. McIlwain sees u201Cin Rome… the first actual u2018sovereign.' We should probably have had at the same time a definite theory of sovereignty to account for this fact if the jurists of the Empire had possessed a capacity for political speculation commensurate with their genius in formulating the specific rules of law.u201D 
With the implosion of centralized Roman authority in Western Europe in the fifth century A.D., a new order arose characterized by u201Crelative sovereignties.u201D This pluralism was the crucial factor in the emergence of freedom and capitalism in Europe.  In addition to complicated sets of overlapping and conflicting u201Cfeudalu201D jurisdictions, the Middle Ages witnessed ongoing conflict between local authorities, the Christian Church, and the oftentimes largely theoretical German Empire.
The medieval order, then, had to get along without the notion of a single sovereign will binding all others. As McIlwaine notes, u201Cthe main obstacleu201D to a theory of sovereignty u201Cwas twofold: the prevalence in the middle ages of the theory of dominion and the absence of any clear notion of legislation. What characterizes the modern u2018sovereign' is supreme authority to make law.u201D 
Bertrand de Jouvenel writes that the idea of a unitary Sovereign Will, from which all law and government flow, u201Cis a quite modern growth.u201D In medieval Europe, u201Cmen had a very strong sense of that concrete thing, hierarchy; they lacked the idea of that abstract thing, sovereignty.u201D Thus, a territorial ruler had a kind of u201Csuperiority,u201D but no sovereignty in the modern sense.
The problem for the historian, de Jouvenel says, is to see how u201Cthe right of the sovereignu201D in the older sense, i.e., u201Ca limited right standing guard over other rights, was transformed into an unlimited right, author of other rights at will.u201D The limited u201Csovereignu201D was supposed to protect existing rights and properties, not reinvent or abolish them. Ambitious rulers, however, sought a u201Cplenitudo potestatis,u201D a fullness of power; but u201Ca long road stretched before them, for it was necessary to destroy all other authorities than their own. And that pre-supposed the complete subversion of the existing social order. This slow revolution established what we call sovereignty.u201D 
In this quest, aspiring kings of the later Middle Ages were aided by a revival of Roman legal concepts and new Aristotelian language with which to discuss political issues. A law of corporations had arisen to deal with the activities of religious orders, guilds, and so on, and kings took its categories over, in order to give kings (or states) a real, legal u201Cpersonality.u201D
Robert Eccleshall notes that, towards the end of this take-over, Richard Hooker u201Chad been influenced by the medieval assimilation of political society to a corporation in which authority was said to reside with the collectivity of the members.u201D  Theorists could now assert that the state was the most inclusive u201Cuniversitas,u201D or corporate body. No one could withdraw from this u201Ccorporationu201D without permission.
The revival of the classical notion of a duty to die for the state was probably an even more important development. Ernst Kantorowicz notes that in Greece the u201Cquasi deification of war heroes was fully developed by the fifth century B.C. at the latest.u201D Later, there came into being a u201Chuge complex of ethical values which in Rome were inseparable from the death pro patria and which later were revived by Petrarch and the early humanists, with their new standards of civic virtues and merits.u201D In the Middle Ages this complex was noticeably absent, and u201Cwhatever u2018patria' may have then designated,u201D the word u201Chad lost its religious flavor and semireligious connotations.u201D 
Instead, as Kantorowicz writes, from Carolingian times forward, there had grown up the notion of the corpus mysticum – the mystical body of the church – for which it might, at times, be rightful to sacrifice one's life. As early as Philip IV's campaign in Flanders (1300), kings began claiming this idea for themselves. The kingdom was a corpus mysticum, too, and subjects had a duty to die for it. When the Norman Kings of Sicily were able to institute routine taxation pro defensione regii (u201Cfor defense of the realmu201D), they seem to have hit upon the original u201Cwar power.u201D 
In another significant step, declarations of war came into being, bearing broader claims to extraordinary powers. Wars announced by the proper authority were now public wars, into which all subjects could, and must, be dragged. Georg Schwarzenberger writes, that
u201C[t]he conception of war as a public contest merely put into legal form the object of absolutist policy to achieve and to hold the monopoly of legitimate physical force.u201D
The new doctrine of bellum publicum delegitimized u201Cprivateu201D armed conflicts. u201CIn this light,u201D Schwarzenberger adds, u201Cthe insistence of naturalist [natural law] writers on the need for a declaration of war receives a new meaning. Sovereigns did not so much consider this prerequisite of a just war as a burdensome limitation on their freedom of action, but as a golden opportunity of transforming their de facto monopoly of physical force into a de jure monopoly. The duty of the prince to guard the community against the danger of illegal war was bound to strengthen his claim to undisputed and exclusive authority in matters of peace and war.u201D 
Another authority writes, that a u201Cdeclaration of war creates the legal status of waru201D and quotes Lord Stowell (1908) to the effect that it also u201Cputs the other party also into a state of war.u201D  At this point, the vast and cosmic war powers – real or pretended spring to life, and are, of course, u201Clegal,u201D since a declaration justifies itself and its consequences.
Overlapping in time these developments, were the writings of numerous partisans of the absolute u201Csovereigntyu201D of the rising, centralized monarchies, or states. These paladins included Bartolus of Sassoferrato, Nicol Machiavelli, Jean Bodin, and Thomas Hobbes. The new notion of ironbound, unitary sovereignty descended to the American founders and beyond, by way of Blackstone, among others. The early expositions of sovereignty coincided with, and served the needs of, states and state-building wars from about 1493 onward. 
Thomas Hobbes was widely damned in his own time by his countrymen, but his model of absolute sovereignty founded on a one-time-only, irrevocable u201Csocial contractu201D was quietly brought into mainstream of English thought. Richard Ashcraft writes: u201CWith suprising alacrity, liberalism consolidated its political gains, modified the sharpness of its rhetoric, and found a place of importance within its arsenal of defensive ideological weapons for Hobbesian man.u201D  And Quentin Skinner adds: u201CBy an extraordinary irony the absolutist argument was to be covertly revived by the whigs themselves, to take its place under heavy camouflage within the eighteenth century Pantheon of Lockean liberalism.u201D 
Over a couple of centuries and in the larger pan-European arena, a series of naturalist writers on international law Surez, Vitoria, Grotius, Pufendorf, and Vattel extended the career of jusnaturalist [natural-law] political language, but undermined it from within. Schwarzenberger observes, that in their efforts to be realistic and relevant, these writers made u201Cnatural law… subservient to the reason of stateu201D and u201Cconveniently lent their authority to the thesis that some rather disconcerting passages in the Gospel on war were not to be taken too literally, and that war, provided it was just, was authorized, both by divine and natural law.u201D Even worse, u201C[t]he insistence of naturalist writers on the element of bellum publicum [public war] in their definitions of war corresponds to the interests of rising absolutism, as does their postulation for a declaration of war. Therefore, during the period of early absolutism this part of their doctrine meets with the full approval of State practice.u201D 
Blurring any distinction between soldiers and non-combatants, the celebrated Hugo Grotius could write, that the u201Cright of killing enemies in a public war and other violence against the person extends not only to these who actually bear arms, or are subjects to him that stirs up the war, but in addition to all persons who are in the enemy's territory.u201D  The practice of states was taken for u201Claw,u201D on the Continent and in the British Isles alike.
It is a good guess that the wars by which English invaders tamed the Celtic areas, were a significant wellspring of bad precedents, which grew like weeds in the otherwise well-tended garden of English law. Practices thus enshrined included, among other things, the claims that mere state assertions of ownership established u201Clegalu201D sovereignty over others' territories, that conquest settled legal u201Ctitle,u201D and that enforcement of these legal u201Cfactsu201D by sieges, mass murder, and deportations constituted u201Cjustice.u201D 
Total war did not need to wait until the 20th century for its basis in theory. The Anglo-Normans' wars on the Celtic periphery involved martial u201Clawu201D and other stern measures, which were not exactly law, and these rested in turn on the emergent u201Clawsu201D of war, which do not look much like law, either. The English even put forth, in Ireland, the modern claim, that a vicious war with no quarter u201Csaves livesu201D by making for a shorter war.  Unlike more recent proponents of this view, however, these enterprisers did not pretend that technology drove them to total war. It worked and they liked it.
Republican governments took over these good works from kings, and liberal regimes rather uncritically took up the republicans' burden. As Nicholas Greenwood Onuf writes, u201Cthe passage from republicanism is also a passage to states as we now know them. Liberalism and the impersonal state both resulted from a complex process of social and conceptual change, not under the aegis of the state (which had yet to come into its own), but under the aegis of republicanism.u201D 
Somewhere in the course of these transitions came the secession of thirteen British colonies from the empire.
Relative to continental thinking on sovereignty, England had lagged a bit behind, and its North American colonists stood even farther behind. Quasi-feudal decentralization and weak administrations worked in Americans' favor, as far as their practical liberties were concerned. But whatever ideological and practical advantage the American colonists enjoyed by virtue of backwardness, it was not enough to inoculate them forever against the viruses of unrestrained sovereignty and unknowable war powers.
We see this already in the u201Cfoundingu201D period of the Republic, where an overtly Lockean but inwardly Hobbesian outlook was the main framework of debate, a debate that left the war power (not to mention sovereignty) in a rather unsatisfactory state of gross mystification and disarray. James Madison and others compounded existing confusions by adding new ones. Meanwhile, executive officers worked at finding out what they could get away with, appealing to various justifying ideas, as needed.
While American theory and practice was perhaps bad enough, later statements about sovereignty from Europe did not help – unless as mere description. G. W. F. Hegel, for example, viewed war as the state's most state-like u201Cmomentu201D – but affirmed and approved of war, precisely because of this relationship.
Summarizing Hegel's views on states and war, Cary J. Nederman writes:
In a time of war, however, the state comes into its own as force, as the unification of the divergent interests of civil society into the single directed activity of repelling and overcoming an external threat…. The sovereignty of the state is the rallying point for the common defense, which transcends all particular interests and all internal mechanisms of society, since in war the general good [!] is incontestable and unambiguous. The state's sovereignty in its external relations is only really manifested in war. And this u2018outward' form of sovereignty is present not merely to a foreign state, but also to the populace of one's own state, during periods of war. 
These notions crossed the Atlantic, where they crossed with similar, homegrown strains. Francis Lieber, German immigrant, political theorist, and legal advisor to Lincoln's War Department, contributed to this unfolding. He wrote, that
the state stands incalculably above the individual, is worthy of every sacrifice, of life, and goods, of wife and children, for it is the society of societies, the sacred union by which the creator leads man to civilization, the bond, the pacifier, the humanizer, of men, the protector of all undertakings, in which and through which the individual has received its character, and which is the staff and shield of society. 
Lieber's contribution to the war power, specifically, was as author of General Orders #100 in 1863. This code, often taken as a statement of humane rules of warfare, was in fact a manifesto of positive law thinking. As Frederick Bonkovsky observes, the u201Cradical nature of positivist law is perhaps best revealed in the centrality it grants to necessity of state or, as it is called in law of warfare, u2018military necessity.'u201D In practice, u201Cseeming prohibitionsu201D like Lieber's u201Chave the chief effect of painting a veneer of moral limitations where, in fact, nothing other than reason of state exists.u201D Thus, u201CLieber's positivism prohibits private crimes. If performed by an agent of the state, literally any practice is allowed.u201D 
Former US Congressman James A. Seddon, in his capacity as Confederate Secretary of War, made the same observation. He wrote that u201Cin this code of military necessity… the acts of atrocity and violence which have been committed by the officers of the United States, and have shocked the moral sense of civilized nations are to find an apology and defense.u201D Further: u201CThey cannot frame mischief into a code or make an instituted system of rules embodying the spirit of mischief under the name of military necessity.u201D  But this sort of thing must be expected, one supposes, where people have signed on for modern sovereignty and vast war powers.
Taking his definition from a British authority, Albert T. Lauterbach wrote in 1944 that, u201Csovereignty implies essentially a claim to use violence within a specified area of the earth's surface over all persons thereon.u201D  With this claim, come all the other claims and implications: Oneness of will, u201Callegianceu201D owed, loyalty oaths to be sworn to the sovereign (i.e., pre-emptive entrapment), whether king or bureaucratic machine; and, finally, the Great Spiritual Mission of the state. There may be more.
Alas, we still do not know the scope of the war power, but by now it seems very immense, indeed. It is here, perhaps, that we again glimpse a u201Csuicide pactu201D – but not one lurking inside bills of rights. And, indeed, Gary D. Glenn has argued that John Locke took care to deny an individual's right to commit suicide, so that he (Locke) could deny that people could commit themselves to a social contract whereby they conceded to the sovereign carte blanche to get them killed in his projects. 
The ineffable war power becomes more and more elusive – you can bet your life on that.
XI. The War Power: One Ring to Rule Them All, And in the Darkness Bind Them
Ruled now by latter-day Trotskyists, oddly called conservatives, we have been witnessing a dramatic Eternal Return to pagan prototypes, complete with matching myths, whether supplied by admirers of Gabriele D'Annunzio, or by would-be Neo-Roman imperialists. Sometimes, our cousins over the water chime in, with commercial messages in favor of the Neo-British model.
Central to the Neo-Roman outlook (and implicit in the Anglo-Norman version) is the notion of absolute sovereignty, from which all manner of power – including the war power may be drawn. But we have already seen, from 1842 forward, that under the genial theory of the u201Cwar power,u201D the state may direct, seize, and use up any person or object within its territorial bounds. It seems clear enough, that protection of private persons and their property is not, in fact, the purpose of the state as such (despite frequent mention of such an object in the writings of Messrs. Hobbes, Locke, Madison, et alii). It begins to seem that the mere provision of security for concrete persons is at best a sort of sideline for the state, an ideological rationale for its activities, and an occasional accidental by-product of the state's other activities and ends.
Where the war power finally ends, logically, emerges from an advisory opinion given by the International Court of Justice in July 1996. Seven out of the fourteen World Court jurists agreed, that u201Cthe Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake…. [T]he Court cannot lose sight of the fundamental right of every State to survival, and thus its right to self-defence….u201D And thus, the Court u201Ccannot reach a definitive conclusion as to the legality or illegality of the use of nuclear weapons by a State in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which its very survival would be at stake.u201D
In other words, survival of the state may trump all other human interests. This highly unsatisfactory conclusion drew a dissent from Judge Christopher George Weeramantry of Sri Lanka: u201CJudge Weeramantry's analysis includes philosophical perspectives showing that no credible legal system could contain a rule within itself which rendered legitimate an act which could destroy the entire civilization of which that legal system formed a part. Modern juristic discussions showed that a rule of this nature, which may find a place in the rules of a suicide club, could not be part of any reasonable legal system – and international law was preeminently such a system.u201D 
That word again.
Once again, it seems, the people get to die for the state. The state will take credit for saving the people. Most of the people will somehow manage to believe this.
Rather more eloquently, the Thomist philosopher Jacques Maritain makes the same point:
To the extent that the sovereign State succeeds in this effort [to escape all bonds], the unaccountability of the supreme decisions by which the body politic is committed has a clear meaning: it means in actual fact that the people will pay for the decisions made by the State in the name of their Sovereignty. As a French saying puts it, u2018ce sont toujours les mmes qui se font tuer,' always the same ones are getting killed. The woes of the people settle the accounts of the unaccountable supreme persons or agencies, State, ministries, committees, boards, staffs, rulers, lawgivers, experts, advisers – not to speak of the intelligentsia, writers, theorists, scientific utopians, connoisseurs, professors and newspapermen. 
This suggests there may have been a major political-philosophical wrong-turn somewhere on the long path leading from Aristotle, to Cicero, to St. Augustine, through Erasmus, the school of Salamanca, down to John Locke, John Taylor, Frdric Bastiat, and down to the current happy reign of Bush II.
Addressing a central shortcoming of political philosophy and theory, namely, an inability or refusal adequately to distinguish state from society, Belgian jurist Frank van Dun writes:
The idea that the state is a form of organized lawlessness is a recurrent theme in liberal thought. It underlies the many attempts to civilise or tame what Hobbes aptly called the u2018Leviathan.' The aim is to institutionalise constitutional checks and balances…. In other words, the liberal idea implies that, at least in times of peace, the state should be controlled according to law. In many ways, this constitutional approach was very successful…. Nevertheless, constitutionalism was more effect as a source of legitimacy than as a check on the powers of the state. Liberals all too easily acquiesced in the state's claim to represent or embody the law…. The state, the institutionalised form of (preparedness for) lawless war, came to be regarded as a necessary institution of lawful peace.
To the extent that liberals subscribed to this view – and they did so en masse – they conceded the main point of political ontology to the apologists of statism: that war, not peace, is the normal or natural condition of human life. This is perhaps the most basic axiom of statism. It implies that there is no natural society, no u2018spontaneous order' (as Hayek would say). Man plus man equals war. The whole of the statist philosophy is contained in that simple statement. 
And reflecting on states and war, in the light of the brutal 20th century, historian Michael Geyer has commented that, u201Cthe issue in great wars and the cause for profound crises is not governability or ways of military reasoning, but the nature of government and military reason itself.u201D 
Of course nothing said here should be taken as saying that concrete peoples might not wish to defend themselves and their property. There is every reason to believe they can do so, and without quite so many cost overruns and assaults on their liberties as we see today. Whether peoples need high-flying theories of sovereignty, bolstered by a long train of checks drawn on the ideology of war powers, to do that, is another matter.  Probably the checks should be returned, marked u201Cinsufficient funds.u201D
Since this is not a treatise on the force structures and weaponry appropriate to the defense of free societies, but is, instead, a critique, however mild, of an ideology wielded in the name of defense by parties, who are not friends of liberty, I move along to some conclusions.
The God-like war power seems a gross imposture grounded on systematically misleading legal fictions gathered into vast spirals of perverse reasoning, whose purpose is to produce whatever results the state apparatus and its social allies require at any given time. As a form of juridical thinking it is not worth the powder needed to blow it to Hell. And worse luck for us, modern states have succeeded in normalizing – in peacetime many powers that were once part of their u201Cemergencyu201D weaponry.
Here is how John Taylor framed the problem; asking how it came about that governments often become unrestrained tyrannies, he writes:
To answer this question, turn your eyes towards a government accoutred in the complete panoply of fleets, armies, banks, funding systems, pensions, bounties, corporations, exclusive privileges; and in short, possessing the absolute power to distribute property, according to the pleasure, the pride, the interest, the ambition, and the avarice of its administrators; and consider whether such a government is the servant or the master of the nation. However oppressive, is it not able to defy, to deride and to punish the complaints of the people? Partisans, purchased and made powerful by their wealth, zealously sustain the abuses by which their own passions are gratified. I discern no reason in the principles of our revolution, for investing our governments which such of these instruments for oppression, as were both unnecessary for the end in view, and even inimical to its attainment; and no such reason existing, it is more difficult to discern the propriety of investing our governments with these superfluous and pernicious powers, by inference and construction. 
But has the Constitution, on which Taylor pinned his hopes of preventing such abuses, really done us very much good? The things he opposed, including deductions from sovereignty, implications upon implications, unbounded war powers, and the like, now abound as practice, or as theory sustaining practice. Two paths seem open. We can affirm that those things are u201Cunconstitutionalu201D and then spend our days wondering how they came about despite their illegality; or, taking the true measure of two centuries of judicial tomfoolery and misdirection, we can reject the whole lot u201Cconstitutionalu201D or not and take the next step, by interrogating sovereignty itself.
Rather than spend our days in constitutional nostalgia, extracting what little comfort we can from the early assertions of what that u201Cpaperu201D really meant (or would have meant in another universe), we might better attend to what Hans-Hermann Hoppe has written on this topic.
Hoppe observes that the American colonists, having thrown the British administration out of their lands, were ideally situated to live thereafter in near-anarchist freedom. Instead of doing this, they u201Cnot only did not let the inherited royal institutions of colonies and colonial governments wither away into oblivion; they reconstituted them within the old political borders in the form of independent states, each equipped with its own coercive (unilateral) taxing and legislative powers. While this would have been bad enough, the new Americans made matters worse by adopting the American Constitution and replacing a loose confederation of independent states with the central (federal) government of the United States.u201D 
Thereafter, perverse incentives set in. A government functioning as an u201Cexpropriating property protector,u201D possessing a territorial monopoly of coercive force, and open to temporary office-holders selected competitively could only grow in scope and ambition. The problems were not obvious for a while. John Taylor glimpsed them: u201CIf,u201D he wrote, u201Cwe have left a sovereign power over property, in the hands of the state governments or the government of the union, all our work will be fruitless.u201D 
In Anno Domini 2003, in the face of imperial sovereignty and its attendant war powers, logically unfounded but real enough, we may wonder with John Randolph, whether in yielding the u201Cwar-making power and the money-raising power,u201D we u201Chave yielded every thing.u201D
 Robert F. Turner, u201CThe War on Terrorism and the Modern Relevance of the Congressional Power to u2018Declare War,'u201D Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, 25, 2 (Spring 2002), pp. 520521 (my italics).
 J. Allen Smith, The Growth and Decadence of Constitutional Government (New York: Henry Holt, 1930), p. 146.
 The last point in the quoted material refers to Justice Sutherland's opinion in US v. Curtis-Wright (1936). Raoul Berger has demolished Sutherland's reasoning, in Executive Privilege: A Constitutional Myth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974), pp. 100108.
 Raoul Berger, Executive Privilege, p. 81. Berger thinks that Lincoln's military measures were justified, but not his theory; this is because, unaccountably, Berger believes that Lincoln was dealing with an u201Cinsurrection.u201D See also Edward S. Corwin, Total War and the Constitution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947), pp. 1622.
 Quoted in John V. Jezierski, u201CParliament or People: James Wilson and Blackstone on the Nature and Location of Sovereignty,u201D Journal of the History of Ideas, 32, 1 (January-March 1971), p. 96.
 William A. Dunning, u201CThe Constitution of the United States in Civil War,u201D Political Science Quarterly, 2 (June 1886), p. 172 (my italics).
 The Federalist (New York: Modern Library, 1941), p. 142 (my italics).
 Patrick Henry, Speech of June 24, 1788, in Jonathan Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, III: Virginia, 2nd ed. (Charlottesville: Michie Co., 1941 ), pp. 590592.
 James L. Sellers, writes that of $4,363,030,367 worth of property in the Confederate states at the beginning of the war, $1,634,105,341 was lost to emancipation and another $1,125,522,577 to other causes linked to the war (Sherman's march could be mentioned): u201CThe Economic Incidence of theCivil War in the South,u201D Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 14, 2 (September 1927), p. 182. My point is that the scale of the confiscations and wanton damage under the war power, or any other form of magic, should awaken our curiosity as to the final scope of that power.
 See Richard H. Kohn, Eagle and Sword: The Federalists and the Creation of the Military Establishment in America, 17831802 (New York: the Free press, 1975).
 John Taylor of Caroline, Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated (New York: Da Capo Press, 1970 ), pp. 2526.
 Taylor, Construction Construed, pp. 53 (my italics), 7576, 84, 170.
 John Marshall, M'Culloch v. Maryland, in Henry Steele Commager, ed., Documents in American History, I (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1963), pp. 213220.
 Taylor, pp. 2728, 3138, 280, 286289.
 John Randolph, u201CSpeech on Surveys for Roads and Canals, January 30, 1824,u201D in Russell Kirk, John Randolph of Roanoke: A Study in American Politics (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1964), p. 343.
 Charles Francis Adams, u201CThe Sifted Grain and the Grain Sifters,u201D American Historical Review, 6, 2 (January 1901), pp. 197234; JQA's threats in appendix, pp. 230234.
 Adams, u201CSifted Grain,u201D p. 233 (my italics). A comparison of this view with that held by the US and Soviet occupiers in Germany in 1945, or US occupiers in Iraq, might prove instructive.
 Quoted in George M. Dennison, u201CMartial Law: The Development of a Theory of Emergency Powers,u201D American Journal of Legal History, 18, 1 (January 1974), p. 76.
 See Ralph H. Gabriel, u201CAmerican Experience with Military Government,u201D American Historical Review, 49, 4 (July 1944), pp. 630643; quotations at pp. 632, 634635.
 Benjamin Robbins Curtis, Executive Power (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1862 [reprint: Dahlonega, Georgia, n.d.]), pp. 1617.
 Curtis, Executive Power, pp. 1819, 25, 2728.
 Quoted in Charles Callan Tansill, u201CWar Powers of the President of the United States with Special Reference to the Beginning of Hostilities,u201D Political Science Quarterly, 45, 1 (March 1930), pp. 7, 9.
 Abraham Lincoln, u201CLetter to William H. Herdon, February 15, 1848,u201D in Joseph R. Fornieri, ed., The Language of Liberty: The Political Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2003), pp. 9192.
 Andrew C. McLaughlin, u201CLincoln, the Constitution, and Democracy,u201D International Journal of Ethics, 47, 1 (October 1936), pp. 1011.
 McLaughlin, u201CLincoln, the Constitution, and Democracy,u201D p. 12 (my italics).
 Charles Fairman, u201CThe Law of Martial Rule,u201D American Political Science Review, 22, 3 (August 1928), pp. 591, 594,
 Edward S. Corwin, u201CMartial Law, Yesterday and Today,u201D Political Science Quarterly, 47, 1 (March 1932), pp. 95, 9799.
 Fairman, u201CThe Law of Martial Rule,u201D p. 612.
 A. Wigfall Green, u201CThe Military Commission,u201D American Journal of International Law [hereafter: AJIL], 42, 4 (October 1948), pp. 834836, 843.
 Dunning, u201CConstitution of the United States in Civil Waru201D (see note #9). Although Dunning's reputation rested, in his lifetime, on his work as an historian of political thought, present-day historians routinely denounce him as a monstrously pro-Southern bigot because of his writings on Reconstruction. It seems worth pointing out, therefore, that he was not u201Cpro-Southernu201D in any wholesale way.
 Dunning, u201CConstitution of the United States in Civil War, p. 178.
 Ibid., pp. 191192 (my italics).
 Sydney G. Fisher, u201CThe Suspension of Habeas Corpus During the War of the Rebellion,u201D Political Science Quarterly, 3, 3 (September 1888), pp. 482483, 485.
 Dennison, u201CMartial Law: Development of a Theory,u201D pp. 73, 77.
 Henry Wager Halleck, u201CMilitary Tribunals and Their Jurisdiction,u201D AJIL, 5, 4 (October 1911), pp. 965966. This piece, apparently written in 1864, while Halleck was practicing what he preached, was found in his papers at his death in 1872. Halleck had written a textbook on warfare (1846) in which he opposed many practices that he found acceptable by 1864. See Lance Janda, u201CShutting the Gates of Mercy: The American Origins of Total War, 18601880,u201D Journal of Military History, 59, 1 (January 1995),p. 18.
 Corwin, u201CMartial Law,u201D p. 99.
 See Richard A. Cosgrove, u201CThe Boer War and the Modernization of British Martial Law,u201D Military Affairs, 44, 3 (October 1980), pp. 124127.
 James Oliver Robertson, American Myth, American Reality (New York: Hill & Wang, 1980), p. 311.
 It is not my mere opinion that the government was u201Cwar-crazedu201D during World War I. For an excellent description of America's rather odd u201Cwar rage,u201D 19171920, see Thomas Fleming, The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I (New York: Basic Books, 2003). On the violent suppression of the once vital German-American subculture, once the US entered the war, see Gary Gerstle, u201CLiberty Coercion, and the Making of Americans,u201D Journal of American History, 84, 2 (September 1997), pp. 528, 539541, 555556
 Richard E. Eliel, u201CFreedom of Speech,u201D American Political Science Review, 18, 4 (November 1924), p. 718.
 Eliel, u201CFreedom of Speech,u201D pp. 727730.
 J. H. Leek, u201CTreason and the Constitution,u201D Journal of Politics, 13, 4 (November 1951), p. 619.
 William A. Dunning, u201CDisloyalty in Two Wars,u201D American Historical Review, 24,2 (July 1919), p. 628, p. 630.
 Robert Nisbet, The Present Age: Progress and Anarchy in Modern America (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), p. 45; and see pp. 4050.
 Quoted in Georg Schwarzenberger, u201CJus Pacis ac Belli? Prolegomena to a Sociology of International Law,u201D AJIL, 37, 3 (July 1943), p. 475.
 See, for example, S. J. Tasson, u201CLaw's Imperialism: Against the Growth of the Legal Order,u201D Jus in Re, 2.
 William E. Scheuerman, "The Economic State of Emergency," Cardozo Law Review, 21 (2000), p. 1870.
 C. H. McIlwain, u201CA Fragment on Sovereignty,u201D Political Science Quarterly, 48,1 (March 1933), p. 96.
 See Ralph Raico, u201CProlegomena to a History of Liberalism,u201D Journal des conomistes et des tudes Humaines, 3, 2/3 (June/September 1992), 259272.
 McIlwain, u201CFragment on Sovereignty,u201D p.98 (my italics).
 Robert Eccleshall, u201CRichard Hooker's Synthesis and the Problem of Allegiance,u201D Journal of the History of Ideas, 37, 1 (January-March 1976), p. 119.
 Ernst H. Kantorowicz, u201CPro Patria Mori in Medieval Political Thought,u201D American Historical Review, 56, 3 (April 1951), pp. 473475.
 Kantotowicz, u201CPro Patria Mori,u201D p. 478.
 Schwarzenberger, u201CJus Pacis ac Belli,u201D p. 462.
 Clyde Eagleton, u201CThe Form and Function of the Declaration of War,u201D AJIL, 32, 1 (January 1938), pp. 2122; and for a commentary on states of war, limited undeclared wars, and sundry legal fictions and dodges thereunto annexed, see William J. Ronan, u201CEnglish and American Courts and the Definition of War,u201D AJIL, 31, 4 (October 1937), pp. 642658.
 See Friedrich Meinecke, Machiavellism: The Doctrine of Raison d'Etat and Its Place in Modern History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), for the development of statist apologetics, by continental thinkers, from Machiavelli through Treitschke.
Richard Ashcraft, u201CHobbes's Natural Man: A Study in Ideology Formation,u201D Journal of Politics, 33, 4 (November 1971), p. 1112.
 Quentin Skinner, quoted in Ashcraft, u201CHobbes's Natural Man,u201D p. 1114.
 Schwarzenberger, pp. 464465.
 Quoted in Frederick O. Bonkovsky, International Norms and Public Policy (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1980), p. 75.
 On these practices, see, for example, Nicholas P. Canny, u201CThe Ideology of English Colonization: From Ireland to America,u201D William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 30, 4 (October 1973), pp. 575598, and Leonard P. Liggio, u201CEnglish Origins of Early American Racism,u201D Radical History Review, 3, 3 (Spring 1976), pp. 136.
 Canny, u201CIdeology of English Colonialism,u201D pp. 582583.
 Nicholas Greenwood Onuf, u201CCivitas Maxima: Wolf, Vattel and the Fate of Republicanism,u201D AJIL, 88, 2 (April 1994), p. 281.
 Cary J. Nederman, u201CSovereignty, War and the Corporation: Hegel on the Medieval Foundations of the Modern State,u201D Journal of Politics, 49, 2 (May 1987), pp. 505506.
 Quoted in C. B. Robson, u201CFrancis Lieber's Theories of Society, Government, and Liberty,u201D Journal of Politics, 4, 2 (May 1942), p. 237.
 Seddon quoted in Burrus M. Carnahan, u201CLincoln, Lieber and the Laws of War,u201D AJIL, 92, 2 (April 1998), pp. 217218; cf. Frank Freidel, u201CGeneral Orders 100 and Military Government,u201D Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 32, 4 (March 1946), p. 553.
 Albert T. Lauterbach, u201CMilitarism in the Western World: A Comparative Study,u201D Journal of the History of Ideas, 5, 4 (October 1944), p. 468.
 Gary D. Glenn, u201CInalienable Rights and Locke's Argument for Limited Government: Political Implications of a Right to Suicide,u201D Journal of Politics, 46, 1 (February 1984), pp. 80105.
 See International Court of Justice, u201CLegality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,u201D 8 July 1996,u201D quotations from printed version, at pp. 2, 919, 19 (my italics in quotation from Weeramantry). The complete text of Judge Weeramantry's dissent can be found here.
 Jacques Maritain, u201CThe Concept of Sovereignty,u201D American Political Science Review, 44, 2 (June 1950), pp. 356357.
 Frank van Dun, u201CPhilosophical Statism and the Illusions of Citizenship: Reflections on the Neutral State,u201D in Boudewijn Bouckaert, ed., Hayek Revisited (Cheltenham, UK: Locke Institute, 2000), p. 94. On constitutional forms as legitimizing mechanisms, see Rothbard, u201CAnatomy of the State,u201D in Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature, pp. 7080.
 Michael Geyer, u201CWar and the Context of General History in an Age of Total War,u201D Journal of Military History, 57, 5 (October 1993), p. 157 (my italics).
 Hans-Hermann Hoppe, ed., The Myth of National Defense: Essays on the Theory and History of Security Production (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2003 [forthcoming]).
 Taylor, Construction Construed, p. 12.
 Taylor, p. 69 (emphasis added).
August 26, 2003