Tag: Francis Lieber

Lincoln: Necessity Does Not Admit Of Cruelty

(Thanks for the promotion NPK!)

(Now cross-posted on Kos)

We all know that in January 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, transforming the Civil War by adding the abolition of slavery to the goal of preserving the Union.

But just a few months later, on April 24, 1863, Lincoln issued another, lesser-known proclamation, putting into effect a Code of Military Conduct for the Union Armies, known as General Orders No. 100.  The author of the Code was Francis Lieber, a German immigrant who had been wounded at the Battle of Waterloo.

Article 16 of the General Orders leaps out as dramatically relevant today.   It states in part:

Military necessity does not admit of cruelty – that is, the infliction of suffering for the sake of suffering or for revenge, nor of maiming or wounding except in fight, nor of torture to extort confessions.

“Necessity does not admit of cruelty.”  Think about that for a moment.  No matter how serious the circumstances, no matter how dangerous the threat, there is no justification for cruelty, and its savage partner, torture.