Freedom of Speech During the Civil War

Abraham Lincoln had many crucial decisions to make during the Civil War. His displeasure with “disloyal speech” from those he thought supported him in the Union, subsequently led to some questionable decisions concerning American’s freedom of speech. Lincoln appointed General Ambrose Burnside as the Union Commander of the Department of Ohio, who issued General Order Number 38 after being appalled by people denouncing soldiers for their efforts. He considered this to be disloyal speech, so the order made it so that no “treasonable expressions” could get into the newspapers. If someone were to challenge this order, then they would potentially be arrested and prosecuted.

Source: Stone, Geoffrey R. “Abraham Lincoln’s First Amendment.” New York University Law Review 78.1 (2003): 1. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.


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