Coming Soon!
Crimes against the State
Sedition, Rebellion, and Civil Disobedience since America's Founding
by James A. Beckman and Eric Merriam
December 2023, 450pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7907-4
$120, £93, 105€, A165
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7908-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

During World War I and World War II, the U.S. government prosecuted hundreds of Americans for alleged crimes ranging from seditious speech—simply for speaking in opposition to the war—to espionage and even treason.

This work provides an authoritative survey of America's long and turbulent history of rebellions against laws and institutions of the state, ranging from violent acts of sedition and terrorism to acts of nonviolent civil disobedience against discriminatory or unjust laws.

Crimes against the State is an evenhanded and illuminating one-stop resource for understanding acts of rebellion against legal authorities and institutions and the motivations/goals driving them. Special care is taken to differentiate between hostile acts and actors that seek to overthrow or otherwise damage the state and/or targeted demographic groups through violence (such “bad actors” as the January 6 Capitol mob and bombers of abortion clinics) and acts and actors that seek to defy, reform, or improve laws and institutions of the state through nonviolent action (such “good actors” as activists in the civil rights movement).

Within these pages, readers will 1) learn how to differentiate between sedition, insurrection, treason, domestic terrorism, espionage, and other acts meant to injure or overthrow the government; 2) gain a deeper understanding of laws, policies, and events that have aroused violent or nonviolent opposition; 3) gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives and motivations of both good actors and bad actors; and 4) learn about state responses to these challenges and threats, from martial law–style crackdowns to new laws and reforms.


  • Helps readers understand various criminal offenses against the state, including terrorism, treason, insurrection, espionage, civil disobedience, and other offenses, and provides relevant historical examples in a neutral and objective fashion
  • Delineates various prosecutions, cases, and laws pertaining to alleged "crimes against the state," including the often-complex political and social factors involved
  • Covers significant legislation and case law related to efforts to "protect" the state from unlawful protests and other public expressions of discontent
  • Provides readers with a rich and diverse array of materials illustrating the many facets and application of laws regarding crimes against the state
James Beckman, JD, LLM, is professor of legal studies at the University of Central Florida. He is the editor of Praeger's Controversies in Affirmative Action as well as Comparative Legal Approaches to Homeland Security and Anti-Terrorism. Beckman has also published articles on U.S. history and the law.

Eric Merriam, JD, LLM, is associate professor at the University of Central Florida, where he is appointed jointly to the legal studies department and the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs. He also serves in the United States Air Force (USAF) Reserve, currently appointed as an appellate military judge on the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals. Merriam also is the author In a Time of Total War (with Joshua E. Kastenberg) and the textbook National Security Law (with Douglas B. McKechnie).
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