University of Chicago Law Review

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Drawing the line between congressional and presidential war powers has been a popular and controversial pastime throughout the past half century. But the problem is by no means new. Presidents Washington and Jefferson famously declared modest views of presidential authority in this field. The present Article takes up the story where Jefferson left off, examining legislative and executive materials illuminating a series of diplomatic and military crises that occurred during the Administrations of Madison, Monroe, and John Quincy Adams: the occupation of West Florida, the first Seminole War, the Monroe Doctrine, and other events arising out of our relations to the newly independent nations of Latin America. The Article concludes that, despite the expectable line-drawing problems in applying principles to real world cases, the express position of every President to address the subject during the first forty years of the present Constitution was entirely in line with that proclaimed by Congress in the War Powers Resolution in 1973: The President may introduce troops into hostilities only pursuant to a congressional declaration of war or other legislative authorization, or in response to an attack on the United States.