The Civil War has been over for 147 years, but there remain plenty of meaty legal issues for historians and scholars to debate.
Albany Law School next month will convene a three-day discussion about the legal implications of the war and reconstruction, ranging from the Fugitive Slave Act and emancipation to the suspension of habeas corpus and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
The conference, “The Civil War on Trial: Legal Issues in a Divided Nation,” will be sponsored by the law school’s Government Law Center, the New York State Bar Association, the Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.
“The Civil War not only changed American politics. It also changed our law,” said Albany law professor Paul Finkelman, co-chairman of the conference. “The modern law of war comes directly from the Civil War. The war also fundamentally altered the Constitution, leading to the abolition of slavery, securing citizenship for African Americans and enfranchising backs on the same basis of whites.”
Harold Holzer, a prominent Lincoln scholar and chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Fund, said the conference would be the most “prestigious and accomplished” gathering of historians ever to focus on the legal issues surrounding the Civil War.
Scholars from the U.S. Naval Academy, George Mason University, Harvard University and Youngstown State University are among those slated to present research, as are several judges and authors.
The conference runs June 7-9.
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