A new story from John Batchelor


ABC I'm John bass and this is the John Batchelor show I'm speaking with John Fabian with his book is Lincoln's code the laws of war in American history and we're going very quickly now through American history because it's in the minds of men of city or sitting down in December and January eighteen sixty two into the early sixty three to write the rules of war the law the law of war the law of war for the union army to conduct against the confederacy in the civil war this ruling on a hundred fifty seven rules become part of the conversation for every convention about war since I learned from the professor Geneva and Hagan here in the twentieth century rules about Ronald the rules of of torture professor Andrew Jackson strikes me as a man who is the exception who do who damages all the rules he conducted war against the Indians as a genocide he did it intentionally what's he celebrated for words but it because a lot of controversy in the process you know there's a moment in January the eighteen nineteen when the United States Congress spends one month the whole month in the longest debate that it happens to that point in American history on the floor of the Congress argue about whether or not Andrew Jackson should be censured for his behavior in Spanish Florida toward the toward the end is and most importantly toward some British nationals so Jackson's behavior get some in the hot water but but also makes him president of United States the hot water is a debate about whether the Indians the native Americans should be considered to be honorable photos or photos to be recognized there's this theme always running into American warfare that when you're fighting other Europeans other white man you conduct the war this way but when you're fighting savages you conduct it that way is that what Jackson relies upon the people know with that he's fighting savages with savagery loose theme runs through not just American history but the the history of Europe an empire generally and in Jackson that acts like someone who has disdain for the rules when he's fighting against us average opponents I think if we look more carefully so that the rules themselves are helping to shape Jackson's ideas of what counts the savage and what doesn't so Jackson is a very complicated set of rules go goes back to his capture by the death of a young boy in the American revolution when he's in the South Carolina militia and captured with his brother is mistreated by British officers any generates a real resentment towards of violations of the laws of war from then on from then onward there are two men at the center of the debate in eighteen nineteen this is January eighteen nineteen a one is name our bus not I was not and the other is Brewster and I believe Jackson arrest them saying that they are Europeans they've instigated the native Americans the Indians in their revolt he he is going to punish them he wants to execute them that seems to be more country seal than all the massacres that he visited upon the Indians in Florida that's right that's what really is that's really was getting in trouble and you know the numbers that are best not are are back in the news today the the the question of the one time of military commissions has raised back to public life the the president Jackson in Florida with amber service not because they are conducting warfare with enemies of the state and we can't treat them as outlaws because they might actually be volunteers into an into another into a foes a service the the the Jackson's view is that they're stirring up Indians against Americans that India and the critics see it quite differently because the critics see these as to British nationals who were engaged in various forms of commerce with the Indians who does run across Jackson's ire all right now let's stay with the European way of fighting a war of that tell and the way the British Empire applied it why did the Ross I believe the commander who rated in to Washington in the war of eighteen twelve why did he burn only public buildings what was that rule what is a long standing idea in the eighteenth century laws of war stretching into the nineteenth set up private property something you should at least try to avoid destroying in the course of war but public property is the public property of the enemy state you're fighting it the enemy nation about subjects to attack and so when the bridge going to Washington in eighteen fourteen the actual quite careful and distinguish between these two forms of property they burn only public buildings and now the twist that I learned from the professor the British also released or took possession of three thousand is the round number you're given of slaves and released them and that the Americans sought compensation or sought to have the slaves return because they declared that those were not confiscated in warfare those were stolen what is that distinction or is that the problem we have here the distinction can be made well the the ideals of the slaves with the private property of of American citizens you legally taken during the course of the war and the American statesman since the revolution has been committed to the idea that you just couldn't free an enemy slaves in wartime it was too dangerous for one thing was private property to for another it was a different kind of private property that might get involved in the war itself in a gauge and slave instructions and terrible atrocities what might and so have well it's nonsense to because I think one of the interlocutors here said you can't treat a slave like a chair I mean this is a human being and I'm struck by how early on this argument becomes passionate did they understand as early as say mon rose timer Maddison Simon mon rose presidency that slavery was the problem that America couldn't solve that it made it almost second rate compared to the Europeans because we were so knotted up by well tell you one group that did the understand this I think was military officers on both sides of the Atlantic who understood that the slave society the cotton self that was fast developing south of the Mason Dixon line was a huge strategic vulnerability for the United States it meant according to French and British officers that a war with United States would be one that would be pretty easy to to win because all you have to do is stir up a slave rebellion in the south and let the war of proceed and so that the Congress did perceive this is that why John Quincy Adams who would take the opposite approach in the Amistad rebellion of eighteen thirty nine eighteen forty John Quincy Adams was passionate about how those slaves must be returned or the owners must be compensated for Adam spins the better part of a decade and a half arguing that international law doesn't allow one country to take another country another country slaves in wartime or at freedom and he pushes as diplomats and the secretary of state and as president of the United States for composition of eventually wins it from the British the late eighteen twenties and this a complication now about slaves that's in the minds of everybody who's riding in eighteen sixty two did they know this history John are they aware of of how America has argued both sides and lost both sides they do with their their all too aware of it and it's the backdrop for some of the most excruciating parts of the Emancipation experience and by the controversy depends at one other detail before we get into the general order number one hundred in particular what's striking about lever is that in his biography in the in the facts the chronology will lay out here he tries to be a Harvard professor fails he goes off to South Carolina college he has three sons one joins the confederacy one joins the union and loses his arm another the second the third son the youngest son joined the union but while he's in South Carolina he buys and sells slaves he seeks to profit he is a slave owner and that irony seems to be so striking to me that lever writing the code was part of the problem well it leave it leave it does become a slave owner causes a breach in his long standing friendship with one of the great abolitionists of of the nineteenth century Charles Sumner of Massachusetts the great senator during the civil war he he he says that he regrets it but they can't find a way to get the most help and the other way he thinks that owning them is better than renting them from somebody else but he does become deeply involved in the in the in slavery as a practice even all the while maintaining that in principle it's wrong all right it's time for general order number one hundred this is an early sixty three Lincoln's code that's what general old old hundred lever calls it that's what Lincoln coat a link it's Cody is and it has tentacles that reach all the way here into the twenty first century John Fabian what is the author on John.

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