Francis dear

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Francis Lieber, between 1855 and 1865

Francis Lieber (born March 18, 1800 in Berlin , † October 2, 1872 in New York ), originally Franz Lieber , was a German-American lawyer , publicist and legal and state philosopher . Based on a translation of the Brockhaus Konversationslexikons, he created the Encyclopedia Americana , the first major encyclopedia in the USA . He was also known for the creation of the Lieber Code , a regulation on warfare that was binding on the troops of the northern states in the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 by a decree of the then US President Abraham Lincoln . In legal and military history, the Lieber Code was the first written set of rules with specifications on methods of warfare and had an impact on the later development of international martial law . Francis Lieber is considered one of the most outstanding American lawyers of his time and one of the pioneers of political science and sociology in the United States.


Born in Berlin in 1800 into a German merchant family, his political views were shaped by the invasion of French troops in his hometown, which he witnessed in 1806 at the age of six. Because of this, he later became an advocate of patriotic beliefs and attached great importance to the ideals of freedom and independence. During his studies he became a member of the old Berlin fraternity in 1818 . He took part in the Napoleonic Wars on the side of Prussia and was wounded in the Battle of Waterloo . After his return from the war he sympathized with the ideas of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn and was therefore exposed to persecution by state authorities. Among other things, it was therefore not possible for him to study at a Prussian university. Instead, he earned his degree in 1820 at the University of Jena and later his doctorate at the University of Halle . During the Greek Revolution he fought on the side of the Greeks against the Turks. After his return to Germany in 1824, renewed persecution and double imprisonment, he fled to England in 1826 . A year later he emigrated to Boston . In 1829 he founded the Encyclopedia Americana in Philadelphia and was its editor until 1833. This work, consisting of 13 volumes, was based on the 7th edition of the Brockhaus Konversationslexikons and is considered the first major American encyclopedia . In 1830, Lieber was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .

In 1835 Lieber became a professor of history and political economy at South Carolina College , now the University of South Carolina , where he remained until 1856. Here he wrote a number of writings and books on questions of political ethics , property rights and the democratic state , including "A Manual of Political Ethics" and "Legal and Political Hermeneuties, or Principles of Interpretation and Construction in Law and Politics", "Laws of Property: Essays on Property and Labor" and "On Civil Liberty and Self-Government". Due to the reputation he built on, he was rehabilitated by the Prussian king in 1844 and, at his invitation, worked as an advisor to the king for a year before returning to South Carolina . From 1856 to 1865 he was professor of history and political economy at Columbia College , today's Columbia University , where he built up the law faculty from 1858. From 1860 until his death, he held a chair for political science at the university.

Despite his personal ties to the southern United States due to his long life in South Carolina, Lieber sided with the Northern states during the Civil War . His son Oscar Montgomery (1830-1862), however, joined the Confederate Army and died on June 27, 1862 in Richmond due to injuries sustained in the Battle of Williamsburg . His sons Hamilton (1835–1876) and Guido Norman (1837–1923) served in the troops of the Northern States . During the war, Lieber served as an advisor to President Lincoln and the United States Department of War . As part of this activity, he wrote the Lieber Code , which was signed by Lincoln on April 24, 1863. After the end of the Civil War, he was commissioned to collect and archive the records and files of the government of the Confederate States of America . From 1870 until his death in New York in 1872 he acted as a diplomatic negotiator in negotiations between the USA and Mexico .

Works (selection)

  • The Stranger in America. Two volumes. London 1833-1835
  • Memories from my life together with Georg Berthold Niebuhr, the historian of Rome. Winter, Heidelberg 1837 digitized
  • A Manual of Political Ethics; designed chiefly for the Use of Colleges and Students at Law. Two volumes. Boston 1838-1839
  • Legal and Political Hermeneuties, or Principles of Interpretation and Construction in Law and Politics. Boston 1838
  • Laws of Property: Essays on Property and Labor, as connected with Natural Law and the Constitution of Society. New York 1842
  • On Civil Liberty and Self-Government. Two volumes. Philadelphia 1853
  • The Unanimity of Juries. New York 1867


Web links

Wikisource: Franz Lieber  - Sources and full texts