The Chatter Podcast: Treason, Secession, and Accountability with Cynthia Nicoletti

By David Priess
Thursday, March 23, 2023, 10:01 AM

A former president accused of treason. Talk of secession. Concerns about the lack of accountability for insurrection. These issues appear in headlines today, but we've been here before--in the 1860s.

For this episode, David Priess talked with legal historian Cynthia Nicoletti about her passion for the intersection of history and law, what the U.S. Constitution says and does not say about secession, differing legal arguments on the topic during and after the Civil War, the government's indecision surrounding the prosecution of former Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis, the strengths of Davis's primary lawyer Charles O'Conor, O'Conor's strategy for preventing a treason prosecution, how the Supreme Court decision in Texas v. White (1869) declared secession invalid, how and why public anger about acts against the U.S government fades, and lessons from the 1860s for secession calls today.

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.

Mentioned during this episode:

The book Secession on Trial by Cynthia Nicoletti

The book Rehearsal for Reconstruction by Willie Lee Rose