Due Process, Military Exigency, and Civilian-Military Relations in George Washington's Army

Posted: 15 Feb 2012 Last revised: 19 Feb 2012

Date Written: July 22, 2011


Recent constitutional developments relative to the war on terror raise critical questions concerning civil-military relationships in Anglo-American legal history dating back to the seventeenth century. Even before American independence was declared, leaders of the patriot cause recognized the need to respect property rights and related individual liberties while conducting war against a determined, combat-hardened army operating on American territory. At the same time a long-standing tradition of distrust and outright fear of the coercive power of standing armies led to the creation of a watchdog committee of Congress designed to serve directly at military headquarters and to play a major role in strategic planning, logistics operations, and liaison between the Continental Congress and its army commanders. Forcible seizure of private property was curtailed through military discipline as well as by the institution of formal evaluation procedures in state civil courts. Through the Revolutionary War there was continuing tension between respect for civilian rights and property on one hand, and, on the other hand, there was a pressing necessity for mobilizing services and materiel to meet the emergency needs of American armies.

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Herbert Alan, Due Process, Military Exigency, and Civilian-Military Relations in George Washington's Army (July 22, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1148331 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1148331

Herbert Alan Johnson (Contact Author)

Herbert A. Johnson ( email )

21 Wagon Trail
Black Mountain, NC 28711
United States
828-357-5564 (Phone)

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