The purpose of this thesis is to provide a legal history and analysis of how the treason clause has been utilized since the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789. Further, the United States and the United Kingdom share not only a historical parallel of the meaning and use of the charge of treason, but also an abandonment of using the charge today. This thesis will provide an in-depth legal history of treason charges in the United States, along with its close parallels in historical evolution and usage to that of the United Kingdom. Focusing prominently on treason throughout United States history, this project will analyze several of the famous treason trials in the nineteenth century, namely the federal prosecution of Aaron Burr in 1807, and the Commonwealth of Virginia's prosecution of John Brown for treason against a state government in 1859. This thesis will also examine the last person prosecuted for treason in the United States: Tomoya Kawakita in 1952. In addition, as a contribution to the "legal history" genre, this paper will summarize the last use of the treason offense in Great Britain in 1946, for which Nazi propaganda broadcaster William Joyce was tried and executed. The core of this thesis will be an analysis of treason law in the United States and also the United Kingdom, with a particular emphasis on why this charge was abandoned by both countries after the early 1950s, and why it should be re-instituted in the twenty-first century. The premise of this thesis will demonstrate a prominent factor in the 1950s leading to the discontinuation of the usage of the treason clause was the negative cultural impact of the era of McCarthyism, and the political misusage of the treason label for his political purposes.
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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Health and Public Affairs
Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs; Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Lewis, David, "Breach of Allegiance: The History of Treason Charges in the U.S., and its Rebirth in the Age of Terrorism" (2013). HIM 1990-2015. 1503.