Historian John Fabian Witt to examine Civil War era laws, morals

Oct. 10, 2012

Contact

Elaine Justice
404-727-0643
elaine.justice@emory.edu

WHAT

Emory University School of Law is launching its Project on War and Security in Law, Culture and Society. Directed by legal historian and Emory Law professor Mary Dudziak, this new program will bring scholars together from different disciplines to study the legalities of war and national security.  

WHO

John Fabian Witt, a legal historian at Yale University, will kick off the program with a lecture titled "Sherman at Atlanta: The Moral Structure of the Laws of War." The lecture draws from Witt’s new book, "Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History,” released in September 2012.  

Witt will be joined by Daniel Reiter, chair of the Department of Political Science at Emory, and Catherine Lutz, professor of anthropology at Brown University.  

WHEN

4 p.m., Monday, Oct. 22, Room 1D, Emory University School of Law, 1301 Clifton Rd., Atlanta.

A reception will follow.  

ADMISSION

The event is free and open to the public.  

BACKGROUND

In the midst of his infamous assault on Atlanta, William Tecumseh Sherman issued an unsettling moral critique of the international laws of armed conflict. Why, Sherman asked, should the law evaluate his conduct in the short run? Weren't the ultimate ends of the war the best measure of its conduct? Sherman's questions about ends and means are eternal. They run through American history, and they underlay the logic of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. What few have observed is that these same questions animated Abraham Lincoln's little-known but powerful transformation of the modern laws of war — a transformation that is still with us today.