Franz Lieber and the Lieber Code

1305 Words Feb 22nd, 2018 5 Pages
Franz Lieber, a German political philosopher, created a series of political works in which he explained the importance of defining ethical boundaries for soldiers in times of war. In 1863, President Lincoln commissioned Lieber to create a series of laws to reflect his ideas (“Francis Lieber,” 2013). Lieber went on to create what became known as Lieber’s code, which was “history’s first attempt to distill, formalize, and systematize various general concepts that international law, at the time, considered proper restraints for the combatants towards each other and towards civilians” (Forbes, 1985). But what effect did the code have on the Civil War and the preceding time period? Created at an important juncture in history, Lieber’s code not only had a profound effect on the views of controversies during the Civil War, but also influenced the way the world viewed the ethical obligations of military personnel during times of war.
Civil War Prisons
Throughout the Civil War, prisoners of war were abundant and thus a popular topic of debate. This likely influenced Lieber’s ideas as to what was important to include in the code, leading to much of Lieber’s code entailing the treatment and exchange of prisoners of war. “Early in the war prisoners received equal treatment from both sides. However the lack of a systematic programs…

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