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Constitutionalism in the Approach and Aftermath of the Civil War$
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Paul D. Moreno and Jonathan O'Neill

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251940

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251940.001.0001

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The Trial of Jefferson Davis and the Americanization of Treason Law

The Trial of Jefferson Davis and the Americanization of Treason Law

Chapter:
(p.113) 4 The Trial of Jefferson Davis and the Americanization of Treason Law
Source:
Constitutionalism in the Approach and Aftermath of the Civil War
Author(s):

Jonathan W. White

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823251940.003.0006

When the Civil War came to a close, federal authorities had to determine what to do with captured Confederate president Jefferson Davis. After weighing the options of a military trial or some other form of punishment, the Johnson Administration decided to try him for treason in a federal court in Virginia. The trial was fraught with difficulties and ultimately ended when President Johnson pardoned Davis on Christmas Day, 1868. Nevertheless, the trial had a significant impact on American treason law. In the process of prosecuting Davis, federal authorities ceased using archaic language in treason indictments, thus Americanizing treason law, which had its roots in early English law.

Keywords:   Jefferson Davis, Salmon P. Chase, John Underwood, Treason Law, Richmond, Virginia, Trial by Jury, Military Courts, Civil War, Reconstruction

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