A Confederate in Congress

The Civil War Treason Trial of Benjamin Gwinn Harris

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About the Book

In May 1865, the final month of the Civil War, the U.S. Army arrested and prosecuted a sitting congressman in a military trial in the border state of Maryland, though the federal criminal courts in the state were functioning. Convicted of aiding and abetting paroled Confederate soldiers, Benjamin Gwinn Harris of Maryland’s Fifth Congressional District was imprisoned and barred from holding public office.
Harris was a firebrand—effectively a Confederate serving in Congress—and had long advocated the constitutionality of slavery and the right of states to secede from the Union. This first-ever book-length analysis of the unusual trial examines the prevailing opinions in Southern Maryland and in the War Department regarding slavery, treason and the Constitution’s guarantee of property rights and freedom of speech.

About the Author(s)

Joshua E. Kastenberg is an active duty officer in the United States Air Force with more than twenty years of service. He is assigned to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a military judge. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Bibliographic Details

Joshua E. Kastenberg
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6489-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2655-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Introduction 4

1. The Origins of a Maryland Secessionist 17

2. Harris and Secession, 1861–1863 40

3. Congress and the War 63

4. “A damning speech,” the Roots of a Trial 84

5. The Democratic Party Convention of 1864 106

6. The Military Prosecution of a Congressman 125

7. Aftermath of the Trial, 1865–1892 147

Conclusion 166

Chapter Notes 171

Bibliography 187

Index 197