Treason on Trial: The United States V. Jefferson Davis


Product Details

LSU Press
Publish Date
8.4 X 9.3 X 1.1 inches | 1.4 pounds

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About the Author

Robert Icenhauer-Ramirez is an attorney based in Austin, Texas. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Texas, where he lectures in the department of history.


It takes a lawyer to talk intelligently about a great trial, and Robert Icenhauer-Ramirez is not only that but a dogged researcher and a skillful writer. His account of the Jefferson Davis treason trial--which ought to have been 'the trial of the century' but wasn't-- is as absorbing a Civil War story as any battlefield narrative. The outstanding characters-- Varina Davis, Charles O'Conor, William Maxwell Evarts, Salmon Chase, John C. Underwood-- march vividly past, even as we gasp at the incompetence which allowed the most spectacular treason case since Aaron Burr to slip through the government's hands. Thorough in his judgments about the role of the Lost Cause, the 14th Amendment, and military tribunals, Icenhauer-Ramirez gives us an enthralling rendering of American law at its best and its worst.--Allen C. Guelzo, author of Gettysburg; The Last Invasion and Reconstruction: A Concise History
A Richmond grand jury indicted Jefferson Davis on charges of treason in May 1866 and set the trial date for the following month. Icenhauer-Ramirez brings a lawyer's appreciation for legal maneuvering and a historian's commitment to in-depth research to provide a compelling answer to the question, Why was Jefferson Davis never tried at all? Here is a vast cast of characters--President Johnson; members of Congress; justices of the Supreme Court; and Davis' wife, Varina, among many others--in a tale of personal loyalties, political ambitions, incompetent prosecution, and public-opinion manipulation. Icenhauer-Ramirez turns the treason prosecutions undertaken by the federal government into a story that will be of interest to historians, lawyers, and anyone who appreciates a fascinating story with twists and turns.--Jacqueline Jones, author of Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War