Date of Award

December 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Lex Renda

Committee Members

Aims McGuinness, Margo Anderson, Robert Smith


American Civil War, Antiwar, Dissent, Marcus Pomeroy, Vallandigham




Mark Ciccone

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2020Under the Supervision of Professor Lex Renda

Since the conclusion of the American Civil War, antiwar dissent in the Union and the Confederacy has predominantly been viewed through the lens of political treason alone, with limited exploration of other factors—judicial, social, economic, personal—which motivated its expression. Both explicitly and implicitly, the individuals and movements that advocated peaceful negotiations to end the conflict, or protested what they viewed as illegitimate or unjust war policies enacted by Washington, D.C. or Richmond, or demonstrated their opposition through riots, flight or armed rebellion have been cast as traitors, conspirators and otherwise denigrated or discounted by Northern triumphalist-tinged narratives, and the “Lost Cause” school of history. Furthermore, acts of dissent in both North and South which are not traditionally viewed as antiwar, or as having any noteworthy impact upon either region’s war effort or domestic policy, have also been marginalized, adding to the monolithic perception of Civil War dissent as ineffectual, limited to certain parties and societal elements, and being motivated by political ideologies alone. In order to comprehend better the scope and nature of antiwar dissent in the American Civil War, and its true effect on the military and legislative efforts of the Union and Confederacy, it is necessary to extend the definition of dissent to new events, personalities and factions including those previously examined as isolated elements in broader Civil War histories, or as targets of analytically limited case studies. This extension must also include actions and rhetoric not intended as antiwar dissent, yet had similar indirect effects, and which provoked similar repression or reforms from the Lincoln and Davis administrations aimed towards nullifying perceived threats to their war efforts or domestic popular strength. This dissertation makes such an extension, concentrated in the judicial, political and grassroots areas of Civil War studies. Through this new analysis, the varied forms and wider prevalence of antiwar dissent, explicit and implicit, becomes clear, as does its influence on Northern and Southern war policies and on modern debates concerning personal liberties, the legality of dissent in wartime, and the powers of the state in war and peace.