This book reveals the dramatic debates over the Constitution during the Civil War. According to Neely, large questions of national existence were argued by political figures like Abraham Lincoln and unknown judges and lawyers at much lower levels of the court, and the document was in a struggle to survive the damage of the conflict. Neely explores how lawyers, judges, justices, and government officials thought about the Constitution and used it for their own political purposes, in many cases pushing the cause of nationalism, and for the first time describes and analyzes the kinds of arguments employed during the Civil War to explain and to capture their thinking. In addition, Neely goes beyond the United States Constitution to examine the Confederate Constitution as well, a document yet to be given rigorous examination by scholars. Rather than focus on a central argument, the purpose of the manuscript is to demonstrate the importance of the opinions of the judges, elected politicians, and political pamphleteers of the Civil War era, and set the stage for future constitutional histories of the Civil War.