The Constitution clearly assigns authority to declare war to the Congress – the House and the Senate.

Article I, Section 8: The enumerated powers of Congress: “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water”

Article II, Section 2: The executive powers of the President: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices…”

What is the history of Congressional action to declare war? After reviewing the below-chronological history of wars, you will come to understand that the Congress has failed its duty to declare war against enemy states on many occasions.

It’s helpful to know that while Congress has failed many times to exercise its authority to formally declare wars, it has always funded them, thereby approving of acts of war by the Executive Branch.


  1. May 14, 1801 – The first Barbary Pirates war began when pasha Yusuf Qaramanli declared war on the United States by chopping down the flagpole at the American consulate in Tripoli. President Jefferson acted without the approval of Congress.
  2. Want to know more about the Barbary Wars? US Dept. of State, Office of the Historian
  3. June 18, 1812 – Declaration of War against Great Britain – Jefferson was president
  4. May 12, 1846 – Declaration of War against Mexico – Polk was president
  5. April 25, 1898 – Declaration of War against Spain – McKinley was president
  6. April 19, 1861 – Declaration of blockade against southern states by President Abraham Lincoln, tantamount to a declaration of war by the president without the approval of Congress
  7. April 6, 1917 – Declaration of War against Germany (WW1) – Wilson was president
  8. December 7, 1917 – Declaration of War against Austria-Hungary (WW1) – Wilson was president
  9. December 8, 1941 – Declaration of War against Japan (WW2) – Franklin D. Roosevelt was president
  10. December 11, 1941 – Declaration of War against Germany (WW2) – Franklin D. Roosevelt was president
  11. December 11, 1941 – Declaration of War against Italy (WW2) – Franklin D. Roosevelt was president
  12. June 4, 1942 – Declaration of War against Bulgaria (WW2) – Franklin D. Roosevelt was president
  13. June 4, 1942 – Declaration of War against Hungary (WW2) – Franklin D. Roosevelt was president
  14. June 4, 1942 – Declaration of War against Rumania (WW2) – Franklin D. Roosevelt was president
  15. June 25, 1950 – Undeclared war against North Korea – Truman was president (it was a UN war)
  16. August 7, 1964 – Joint Resolution to war against North Vietnam – Lyndon B. Johnson was president
  17. April 24, 1980 – President Carter orders Operation Eagle Claw to rescue 52 US embassy staff held hostage by Shiite rebels in Iran – the mission was disastrous and totally unsuccessful
  18. October 25, 1983 – President Reagan orders military attack against Cuban troops in Grenada
  19. August 2, 1990 – President George H.W. Bush authorized Operation Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait from Iraq
  20. November 29, 1990 – The United Nations Security Council authorized the use of “all means necessary” to remove Hussein’s forces from Kuwait
  21. October 8, 1993 – President Clinton authorized an attack on Somalia without approval of Congress
  22. September 16, 1994 – President Clinton publicly orders US troops to Haiti without approval of Congress
  23. On December 3, 1995 – President Clinton ordered US troops to Bosnia without approval of Congress
  24. On March 19, 2003 – President George Bush (43) declared attack against Iraq to begin. This action was approved earlier by Congress on October 16, 2002
  25. March 19, 2011 – President Obama authorized attack on Libya without approval of Congress


An appropriate analogy: How does the camel differ from a horse? A camel is a horse designed by a committee.

The analogy points to the weaknesses of a partisan Congress and for this reason the Founding Fathers exercised wisdom from God in the constructs of our US Constitution.

As Founding Father Benjamin Franklin observed in his 1787 Constitutional Convention Address:

“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments be Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.”

This partisan Congress is indeed on the warpath, but not against a foreign enemy; it’s on the warpath against duly elected President Donald Trump and has been this way since January 20, 2017, inauguration day.

The 2020 Elections can be of no value, lacking divine direction. Let’s pray God will endow all governmental leaders with His wisdom, in all three branches.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s