Cynthia L. Nicoletti

  • Professor of Law
  • Professor of History

Cynthia Nicoletti is a legal historian and professor of law at Virginia Law. She has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the William Nelson Cromwell Prize for the best dissertation in legal history, awarded by the American Society for Legal History in 2011. Her book, Secession on Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis, won the 2018 Cromwell Book Prize, given by the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation each year for excellence in scholarship to an early career scholar working in the field of American legal history.


  • J.D.
    Harvard Law School
  • Ph.D.
    University of Virginia
  • M.A.
    University of Virginia
  • B.A.
    University of Virginia


Book Chapters

Strategic Litigation and the Death of Reconstruction, in Signposts: New Directions in Southern Legal History, University of Georgia Press, 265 (2013).

Articles & Reviews

William Henry Trescot, Pardon Broker, 11 The Journal of the Civil War Era 478–506 (2021).
Book Review (reviewing Rebecca Zietlow, The Forgotten Emancipator: James Mitchell Ashley and the Ideological Origins of Reconstruction) 38 Law & History Review 299–301 (2020).
Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase and the Permanency of the Union, 44 Journal of Supreme Court History 154–169 (2019).
Review of Pratt, Sowing the Wind (reviewing Dorothy Overstreet Pratt, Sowing the Wind: The Mississippi Constitutional Convention of 1890) 85 Journal of Southern History 476–477 (2019).
Writing the Social History of Legal Doctrine, 64 Buffalo Law Review 121–140 (2016).
Review of William A. Blair, With Malice Toward Some: Treason and Loyalty in the Civil War Era (reviewing William A. Blair, With Malice Toward Some: Treason and Loyalty in the Civil War Era) 5 Journal of the Civil War Era 330–332 (2015).
Did Secession Really Die at Appomattox: The Strange Case of U.S. v. Jefferson Davis, 41 University of Toledo Law Review 587–637 (2010).
The American Civil War as a Trial by Battle, 28 Law & History Review 71–110 (2010).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

Why Can’t We Take Secession Seriously?, Balkinization (January 5, 2023).
Historical Path Dependency and Secession, Balkinization (May 16, 2020).
The Road Not Taken After the Civil War

Featured Scholarship