Biblioteca PGR

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CLARKE, Frances M., e outro
No minor matter : underage soldiers, parents, and the nationalization of habeas corpus in Civil War America / Frances M. Clarke, Rebecca Jo Plant
Law and History Review, v.35 n.4 (November 2017), p.881-927


In 1901, Major William Birkhimer, one of the nation's foremost experts on military law, reflected on how radically the authority of the United States Army had grown over the course of the nineteenth century. During the nation's early years, the public's “fear and distrust” of standing armies had prevented the establishment of a large national force, with Americans preferring to rely instead on local and state militias. Pervasive suspicion of concentrated military power, combined with a federalist system that granted individual states significant autonomy, left the United States Regulars vulnerable to interference of a sort that professional military men deplored. To illustrate this sorry state of affairs, Birkhimer described how recruiting officers who unwittingly enlisted minors—“though they had every reason, including the recruit's declaration, to deem them of legal age”—found themselves “ruthlessly prosecuted, and condemned by courts without apparent rhyme or reason.” Meanwhile, the “hopeless” federal government, unable to respond effectively to judicial challenges by the states, left its “faithful” officers hanging out to dry.