Lincoln’s Censor: Milo Hascall and the Freedom of the Press in Civil War Indiana

by David W. Bulla, Purdue University Press, 2008, $39.95

David W. Bulla’s new book is good but seems to be aimed primarily at academics. While commanding the District of Indiana in the spring of 1863, Milo Smith Hascall issued General Order No. 9 proclaiming that all newspaper editors and public speakers who encouraged resistance to the draft or any other war measure would be treated as traitors.

Bulla delivers a thorough investigation of the origins and impact of Hascall’s actions from a legal, political, military and social perspective. He finds that Hascall “was merely echoing the views of the Lincoln administration,” even though Lincoln never signed an executive order that allowed censorship.

Ultimately, Lincoln set a precedent for presidents to “decide when press suppression and intimidation can take place.” That, Bulla writes, was “an unfortunate…legacy for the sixteenth president.”

 

Originally published in the July 2009 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here