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Uncivil Warriors: The Lawyers' Civil War

Peter Hoffer (Professor of History, University of Georgia)

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Oxford University Press
15 June 2018
History; History of the Americas; Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900; American Civil War; Legal history
In the Civil War, the United States and the Confederate States of America engaged in combat to defend distinct legal regimes and the social order they embodied and protected. Depending on whose side's arguments one accepted, the Constitution either demanded the Union's continuance or allowed for its dissolution. After the war began, rival legal concepts of insurrection (a civil war within a nation) and belligerency (war between sovereign enemies) vied for adherents in federal and Confederate councils. In a nation of laws, such martial legalism was not surprising. Moreover, many of the political leaders of both the North and the South were lawyers themselves, including Abraham Lincoln. These lawyers now found themselves at the center of this violent maelstrom. For these men, as for their countrymen in the years following the conflict, the sacrifices of the war gave legitimacy to new kinds of laws defining citizenship and civil rights. The eminent legal historian Peter Charles Hoffer's Uncivil Warriors focuses on these lawyers' civil war: on the legal professionals who plotted the course of the war from seats of power, the scenes of battle, and the home front. Both the North and the South had their complement of lawyers, and Hoffer provides coverage of each side's leading lawyers. In positions of leadership, they struggled to make sense of the conflict, and in the course of that struggle, began to glimpse of new world of law. It was a law that empowered as well as limited government, a law that conferred personal dignity and rights on those who, at the war's beginning, could claim neither in law. Comprehensive in coverage, Uncivil Warriors' focus on the central of lawyers and the law in America's worst conflict will transform how we think about the Civil War itself.
By:   Peter Hoffer (Professor of History University of Georgia)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 243mm,  Width: 166mm,  Spine: 22mm
Weight:   462g
ISBN:   9780190851767
ISBN 10:   0190851767
Pages:   240
Publication Date:   15 June 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Peter Charles Hoffer is Professor of History, University of Georgia; he is the author of many books, including Cry Liberty and The Federal Courts.

Reviews for Uncivil Warriors: The Lawyers' Civil War

Peter Hoffer, one of our nation's most prolific and distinguished legal historians, demonstrates the centrality of law, lawyers, and judges to the road to Civil War and the prosecution of the war. In this readable and wide-ranging book we see how southerners tried to make their actions look lawful and how law was used to justify limitations on radical change. This suggests law can bind us together as a nation, and at the same time, constrains how much we can change. --Alfred Brophy, Professor of Law and History, University of Alabama, and author of University, Court, and Slave Peter Hoffer's masterful book, Uncivil Warriors, reveals the fascinating and hitherto untold story of the battle of legal minds that took place behind the conflict of arms that is more familiar to readers of American Civil War history. --Don H. Doyle, author of The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War Peter Hoffer breathes new life into the cliche 'the pen is mightier than the sword' by detailing the major role lawyers played during the secession crisis, defining the objects of the Civil War, justifying legal strategies during the Civil War, and on the northern side, developing the constitutional justification for the more powerful regime that emerged in the wake of the Civil War and that regime's commitment to equality. --Mark A. Graber, Regents Professor, Carey School of Law, University of Maryland Peter Hoffer's lively and engaging account of the lawyers who shaped the constitutional and political strategies of both the North and South during the Civil War convincingly places law at the center of the conflict. As much as the generals, these lawyers helped determine the outcome of America's most devastating war. --William E. Nelson, Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law and Professor of History, New York University


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