Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lincoln Approves the Lieber Code

Francis Lieber
 150 years ago today, Lincoln issued General Order No. 100, implementing the Lieber Code for the humane treatment of prisoners. The Lieber Code is named after Francis Lieber, a German philosopher who immigrated to America. He was the first self-titled political scientist, as a professor at Columbia College. He sided with the North, and helped Lincoln draft the orders defining the laws of war.

Although the code was issued as only an order for the United States army, it was eventually adopted by the Confederacy, and other armies across the world. It became one of the foundational expressions of the international laws of war. It said that war was between societies, so that civilians of the opposing nation were indeed enemies, but it also said that they should be spared whenever militarily possible. It also established rules for dealing with captured property, both public and private, spies, deserters. You can read the entire order here.


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