Trumbull, Lyman (1813–1896)

Author:Paul Finkelman

Page 2735

An Illinois state supreme court judge (1848?1853) and United States senator (1855?1873), Lyman Trumbull opposed all SLAVERY expansion before 1861, and during the SECESSION crisis he argued that the Constitution already adequately protected slavery and no amendments, concessions, or compromises were necessary. A strong supporter of the Union war effort, Trumbull nevertheless believed that the war should be fought within the framework of the Constitution. Thus, he opposed President ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S unilateral suspension of HABEAS CORPUS, arbitrary arrests, and the closing of northern newspapers. Nonetheless, he supported legislation authorizing such actions. Trumbull gave mild support to the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION but doubted its constitutionality, and thus he introduced the resolution which led to the THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the war and Reconstruction, Trumbull initiated the first and second CONFISCATION ACTS, the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1866, the FREEDMEN ' SBUREAU Extension Act (1866), and the first civil service reform legislation (1870). Despite his opposition to slavery and support of CIVIL RIGHTS, Trumbull was at heart a white supremacist and only reluctantly voted for the FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT. He opposed both punitive legislation for southern states that discriminated against blacks and the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, because of his lack of sympathy for blacks and his refusal to accept the fact that the CIVIL WAR had radically altered the nature of STATES ' RIGHTS. He gave unenthusiastic support for ANDREW JOHNSON in 1865?1866, and, although disgusted with Johnson's vetos of his Civil Rights and Freedman's Bureau Bills, Trumbull voted against conviction of Johnson in the trial following IMPEACHMENT because he doubted Johnson had committed an impeachable act under the Constitution. A successful corporate lawyer, Trumbull argued EX PARTE MCCARDLE (1867) at the express request of General ULYSSES S. GRANT and was paid $10,000 for his services, even though he was a senator at the time. In 1876 Trumbull unsuccessfully argued the...

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