Lieber, Francis

Lieber, Francis

(lē`bər), 1798–1872, German-American political philosopher, b. Berlin. Ardently patriotic, he enlisted in the Prussian army and fought and was wounded at the battle of Waterloo. On his return to Germany he joined the TurnvereinTurnverein
, society of a type originated in Prussia by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. The first hall of such a society was built in 1811 on the Hasenheide athletic grounds, near Berlin.
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 movement. In the suppression of student organizations in 1819, Lieber became suspect for his liberal ideas and was harried by the police for the remainder of his life in Germany; he was twice imprisoned. Not permitted to attend a Prussian university, he obtained a degree at Jena. In 1826 he fled to England. He went to Boston in 1827 to teach Jahn's system of gymnastics. From his idea of translating the Brockhaus encyclopedia into English sprang the first edition of The Encyclopaedia Americana (13 vol., 1829–33), which he edited. Lieber was professor of history and political economy (1835–56) at South Carolina College (now Univ. of South Carolina). While there he wrote the books that established his reputation as a political philosopher—A Manual of Political Ethics (1838), Essays on Property and Labor (1841), and On Civil Liberty and Self-Government (1853). He taught at Columbia from 1856 until his death. During the Civil War, he prepared for the Union government Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field, known in its final form as General Order No. 100, issued in 1863. It was the basis for later efforts to codify the international law of war. After the Civil War, Lieber joined the radical Republicans.

Bibliography

See biography by F. Freidel (1948, repr. 1968); R. S. Hartigan, Lieber's Code and the Law of War (1983).

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Lieber, Francis

(1800–72) political reformer, editor, political scientist; born in Berlin, Germany. As a youth he fought against Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo. Persecuted, even imprisoned, as a liberal in Prussia, he fled in 1826 and arrived in Boston in 1827. Proposing to translate a German encyclopedia, he so enlarged and revised it that he ended up editing a new Encyclopedia Americana (13 vols. 1829–33). He taught at the University of South Carolina (1835–57) and Columbia University (1857–72). Two of his works, Manual of Political Ethics (1838–39) and On Civil Liberty and Self-Government (1853) provided the first thorough analysis of American government since its inception. Known for his ideas on prison reform, he also drafted a Code for the Government of the Armies of the United States (1863), which was adopted by the Union army; essentially the first code of international law governing war, it was later used as the basis for the Hague Convention.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.