"Lincoln and the Law of War”
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I don’t know anything about the law of nations,” Lincoln confessed to Thaddeus Stevens in 1861. International law, then called the law of nations, was one set of ideas Lincoln set out to master while President. By 1863 he had thoroughly mastered the principles of international law and, in particular, the law of war as it then existed. Dr. Carnahan's presentation will focus on Lincoln's ability to explain important legal concepts in plain language that was accessible to military officers as well as the American public, most notably in defense of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Burrus (Buzz) M. Carnahan is a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at the U.S. Department of State and a Professorial Lecturer in Law at the George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Previously, he was a private sector consultant on international arms control issues and is an authority on international law and arms control. Dr. Carnahan served for 20 years as a lawyer in the U.S. Air Force specializing in the law of war. From 1969 to 1989 he served as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Air Force, specializing in international legal issues. From 1974 to 1978 he was an Associate Professor of Law at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He also participated in several international negotiations on arms control. Dr. Carnahan’s JD degree is from Northwestern University (1969), and he holds an LL.M from the University of Michigan (1974).
Carnahan is the author of Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War and Lincoln on Trial: Southern Civilians and the Law of War. Both books examine the role of law in the American Civil War. He has also penned numerous articles on Abraham Lincoln, international law, and the law of war. Dr. Carnahan was the principal researcher on United States legal practice for the International Committee of the Red Cross study on Customary International Humanitarian Law (Cambridge U. Press, 2005), and he was U.S. correspondent for the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law.
Additionally, Dr. Carnhan has spoken on Lincoln and his era at the Abraham Lincoln Institute Symposium at the National Archives, the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute, the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky, and many other venues. In 2012, Dr. Carnahan was appointed to the Scholarly Advisory Group for President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home for a two year term.