Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In law, treason is the crime of disloyalty to one's nation. A person who reneges on an oath of loyalty or a pledge of allegiance, and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as: "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]."
History of Treason
The English Statute of Treasons (1350) distinguished high treason from petty treason. Petty treason was the murder of one's lawful superior, such as when a wife killed her husband, or a servant his master. High treason covered acts that constituted a serious threat to the stability or continuity of the state, including attempts to kill the king, to counterfeit coins or to wage war against the kingdom. An 18th century law defines four basic types of high treason:
- When a man doth compass or imagine the death of our lord the king, of our lady his queen, or of their eldest son and heir
- If a man do violate the king's companion, or the king's eldest daughter unmarried, or the wife of the king's eldest son and heir
- If a man do levy war against our lord the king in his realm
- If a man be adherent to the king's enemies in his realm, giving to them aid and comfort in the realm, or elsewhere.
The punishment for treason was an often extended and especially cruel death (treason was still theoretically punishable by death in Britain until 1998, although the last death sentence for treason was given in 1945, and the last hanging carried out in 1946). The law was used in England to suppress any resistance to government policy and it was not reformed until the 19th century.
The United States
To avoid the abuses of the English law, treason was specifically defined in the United States Constitution. Article Three defines treason as only levying war against the United States or "in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort," and requires the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act or a confession in open court for conviction. This safeguard may not be foolproof since Congress could pass a statute creating treason-like offences with different names (such as sedition, bearing arms against the state, etc.) which do not require the testimony of two witnesses, and have a much wider definition than Article Three treason. For example, some well-known spies have generally been convicted of espionage rather than treason. In the United States Code the penalty ranges from "shall suffer death" to "shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."
In the history of the United States there have been fewer than forty federal prosecutions for treason and even fewer convictions. Several men were convicted of treason in connection with the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion but were pardoned by George Washington. The most famous treason trial, that of Aaron Burr in 1807, resulted in acquittal. Politically motivated attempts to convict opponents of the Jeffersonian Embargo Acts and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 all failed. Significantly, after the American Civil War, no person involved with the Confederate States of America was charged with treason, and only one major Confederate official, the commandant of the Andersonville prison, who was charged with war crimes, was charged with anything at all.
Treason has become largely a wartime phenomenon in the 20th century, and the treason cases of World Wars One and Two were of minor significance. Most states have provisions in their constitutions or statutes similar to those in the U.S. Constitution. There have been only two successful prosecutions for treason on the state level, that of Thomas Dorr in Rhode Island and that of John Brown in Virginia.
In 1964, an author named John A. Stormer wrote a book considered a backstairs political classic and titled it None Dare Call It Treason —the book unexpectedly sold seven million copies with little or no advertising. It was revised and reissued by the original author in 1990. The title phrase has been reused and paraphrased many times in the ensuing forty years, and has become part of popular culture.
Within the United States, the accusation of treason has been leveled at those who dissented against the government's foreign policy, especially during military actions. Most of the time these accusations are not made by people within the government. Rather private individuals - such as talk show hosts or other media personalities - will make a charge of treason against a person or group of people who dissent against government policy. It should be noted that in these cases the accusations made almost never meet the Constitutional definition of treason.
List of alleged or convicted traitors by country
- FLQ Members, a militant Quebec separatist group
- Louis Riel, Métis leader who opposed Canada's expansion into the west. (This is subject to some controversy).
- Joseph Darnand, leader of the Vichy French Milice.
- The Charlemagne Division, French volunteers in the Wehrmacht and later Waffen-SS.
- Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy
- Pierre Laval, prime minister of Vichy France.
- Henri Philippe Pétain
- Marie Antoinette
- Louis XVI
- Mordechai Vanunu Israeli nuclear weapons revealer, 1986; in prison mostly since.
- Shabtai Kalmanovitch , spied for Soviet Union
- Avraham Marcus Klingberg, spied for Soviet Union
- Vidkun Quisling, Minister President of Nazi-occupied Norway during World War II
- Knut Hamsun Norwegian Nobel Prize winning writer, convicted of treason for supporting the Nazis
- Arne Treholt Norwegian diplomat, turned by the KGB
- Andrei Vlasov, a Soviet Army General who later worked for the Germans during World War II.
- General Dmitri Fedorovich Polyakov sold secrets to USA, out of hatred for "corrupt" Soviet system, although loved his country
- Oleg Penkovsky
- Pyotr Popov
- Vitaliy Yurchenko , KGB defector to USA; but then reverted to USSR. Not clear whose side he was on.
- Lieutenant Colonel Boris Yuzhin KGB, worked for FBI after experiencing freedom in the west
- KGB Lieutenant Colonel Valery Martynov , resource in place for USA
- KGB Major Sergei Motorin recruited by FBI
- Viktor Gundarev KGB, defected to USA, 1986
- Sergei Bokhan GRU recruited by CIA
- Adolf Tolkachev , worked with CIA, executed 1986
- Leonid Poleschuk KGB, worked for CIA
- Gennady Varenik KGB, worked for CIA
- Gennady Smetanin KGB
- (reference for most of the above, Shannon, page 111 etc)
- John Amery, who made recruitment efforts and propaganda broadcasts for Nazi Germany.
- Norman Baillie-Stewart, who was charged with passing information to the Nazi government in Germany.
- Anne Boleyn
- The British Free Corps, whose members fought for the Nazis against their country
- Henry Brooke, 8th Baron Cobham, who was implicated in the Main Plot against the rule of James I of England.
- The Cambridge Five, a spy ring. Harold 'Kim' Philby (British Intelligence), Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross, spied for Soviet Union
- King Charles I
- Guy Fawkes, tried to blow up Parliament
- Klaus Fuchs - German-born British citizen who gave atomic bomb secrets to the Soviets
- George Blaike agent who worked for Soviets
- The Jacobites
- William Joyce, alias "Lord Haw-Haw", a fascist politician and Nazi propaganda broadcaster to the United Kingdom during World War II.
- Queen Mary I
- Thomas More
- Thomas Paine
- Frank Bossard British guided missile researcher recruited by the GRU
- Chidiock Tichborne
- William Wallace
- George Washington revolutionary anti-colonial militia leader
- Anthony Cramer
- Benedict Arnold. plotted to help Britain
- The Saint Patrick's Battalion, Irish-Americans who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American War.
- Governor Thomas Dorr 1844, convicted of treason against the state of Rhode Island; see Dorr Rebellion
- Jefferson Davis Confederate President
- Max Haupt
- Tomoya Kawakita
- Tyler Kent, communications to Soviet Union, convicted 1941
- Iva Toguri D'Aquino, who is frequently identified with "Tokyo Rose".
- Alger Hiss, State Department official, sold secrets to Soviet Union
- Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, atomic bomb secrets to Soviet Union
- Fritz Kuhn, Nazi, held in internment camp, deported after world war II
- Ezra Pound, brought back from Italy to face charge of treason for supporting Mussolini, declared insane and thus untryable
- Nelson C. Drummond , Navy, worked for GRU
- US Army Sergeant Jack Dunlap NSA courier, worked for GRU
- US Air Force Sergeant Herbert W. Boeckenhaupt sold secrets of Strategic Air Command to GRU
- Christopher Boyce, Andrew Daulton Lee arrested for selling secrets to Soviets
- David Barnett , CIA, arrested 1980
- Richard Miller FBI agent, arrested 1983
- Edward Lee Howard , CIA, defected USSR 1985
- Ronald W. Pelton NSA communications specialist, revealed to Soviets that US submarines tapped Soviet undersea cables
- Jonathan Pollard US Naval Investigative Service, and wife Anna, spying for Isreal
- Larry Wu-Tai Chin, CIA, spied for China for 3 decades
- Harold Nicholson CIA, arrested 1996
- Earl Edwin Pitts, FBI, arrested 1996, secrets to Soviets
- Aldrich Ames, CIA, and his wife sold secrets to Soviets
- Robert Hanssen FBI counterintelligence agent, who sold top secrets to the Soviet Union for two decades
- John Anthony Walker, a Soviet spy active during the Cold War; also some family members, Michael Walker
- John Walker Lindh, young Californian Muslim, joined the Afghani Taliban, although before September 11, 2001; accepted a plea bargain, 20 years in prison and a gag order lasting that long. He was not convicted of treason.
- Ephialtes, who betrayed the Spartan king Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.
- Brutus help assassinate Julius Ceasar, his best friend (a personal betrayal as well)
- Cassius plotter against Julius Ceasar
- Judas Iscariot (subject to debate)
- Janusz Radziwiłł, 1612-1655
- Kotoku Shusui, Japanese anarchist, 20th century
- Ludwig Beck, Carl Goerdeler, Claus von Stauffenberg German, plotted against Hitler, attempted assassination; failed, meat-hooked for his trouble
- List of secret agents, more cases that could be here
- Elaine Shannon and Ann Blackman, The Spy Next Door : The Extraordinary Secret Life of Robert Philip Hanssen, The Most Damaging FBI Agent in US History, Liittle Brown, 2002 ISBN 0-316-71821-1
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