9. The Constitution gives Congress the authority to conscript armed forces
Article 1, Section 8 gives the Congress the authority to perform a wide variety of services necessary for the running of the government and the defense of the nation. Among them are the authority to levy taxes, borrow money, create post offices and to build the roads connecting them. Another power specifically mentioned is the authority to “raise and support armies”, as well as the authority for Congress, “to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions”. It was from Article 1 Section 8 that Congress claimed the authority to authorize conscription of troops in the United States.
Not all agreed that Congress had the authority to conscript. When President Madison attempted to initiate a draft during the War of 1812 many in Congress rose to oppose them, among them Daniel Webster. “Is this, sir, consistent with the character of a free government?” he argued. “Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No sir it is notâ¦” Webster claimed, arguing that the draft proposed by Madison gave the government the authority to, “take children from their parents, and take parents from their children”. Webster argued further that a draft would, “trample down and destroy the dearest rights of personal liberty”. In 1814 Webster prevailed. In 1863 Congress authorized a draft.