Lincoln and Civil Liberties in the Light of 9/11

Thursday, March 30, 2006
Lincoln and Civil Liberties in the Light of 9/11
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 PM

Issue in Context
Throughout American history, the United States government has restricted certain civil liberties for the sake of national security in response to national crises. In light of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the problem of balancing national security with civil liberties has resurfaced as a widely debated issue in American politics. Political conflict inevitably ensues when governments increase security measures at the expense of personal freedoms. Such was the case during the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus to imprison and exile Confederate sympathizers whom he deemed detrimental to the Union and the future of the country. Many argue that President Lincoln’s actions during the Civil War should serve as an instructive precedent for America in a post 9/11 world. As the nation is currently immersed in the war on terror, the American government is attempting once again to balance the civil liberties Americans have traditionally enjoyed with deadly threats from terrorist networks around the globe. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 have not only changed Americans’ present views concerning civil liberties and security, but have also altered America’s understanding of its national past.

About the Speaker
Mark E. Neely, Jr. has written numerous books and articles concerning Lincoln and Civil War history, and he received a Pulitzer-Prize for his book “The Fate of Liberty.” In addition, Neely is an editorial board member of the Penn State University Press. He also serves as a board member of the Abraham Lincoln Association, and is an advisor to the Lincoln exhibit at the National Constitution Center . Neely received his Ph.D. in history from Yale University in 1973. He is currently a McCabe-Greer Professor of Civil War History at Penn State University . Neely has received numerous awards including the National Jesuit Honor Society book award and the Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale University . In 2004 his work was selected as one of the three most influential articles in fifty years of “Civil War History.”

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