Law and War
Law and War
This chapter focuses on the contested and malleable nature of law in Leschi's 1857 conviction and 2004 exoneration. Territorial settlers and officials in the 1850s seized on the figure of Leschi to work through the proper use of U.S. law in frontier wars of expansion. Leschi was categorized simultaneously as a criminal and as a warrior, reflecting non-Indians' deep-seated impulse to see settlers as both victims and victors and the nation as both pure and powerful. Their inconsistent application of law during war was central to the petitioners' case for Leschi's exoneration in the Historical Court. This argument was well-fashioned for 2004, when the so-called War on Terror prompted similar questions about the rights of combatants. In the 1850s and in 2004, non-Indians used the mythic figure of Leschi to legitimize law and define the nation as consistently law-abiding even in the midst of wartime legal exceptions.
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