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Treason and the Illusive Guilt of the Rebels

Beginning in 1860, many United States citizens actively took part in levying war against their national government. Many others gave aid and comfort to those who had, until just prior, pledged allegiance to the United States. And yet, at the end of that conflict, not a single one of them was found guilty of treason in a Federal court. Let’s dig into what treason actually means, how it had been applied previous to the Civil War, and why even the rebel leaders were not found guilty of treason.

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