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Constitutionalism in the Approach and Aftermath of the Civil War

Paul D. Moreno

Publication Year: 2013

The irreducibly constitutional nature of the Civil War's prelude and legacy is the focus of this absorbing collection of nine essays by a diversity of political theorists and historians. The authors examine key constitutional developments leading up to the War, the crucial role of Abraham Lincoln's statesmanship, and how the constitutional aspects of the War and Reconstruction endured in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This thoughtful, informative volume covers a wide range of topics: from George Washington's conception of the Union and his fears for its future to Martin Van Buren's state-centered, anti-secessionist federalism; from Lincoln's approach to citizenship for African-Americans to Woodrow Wilson's attempt to appropriate Lincoln for the goals of Progressivism. Each essay zeroes in on the constitutional causes or consequences of the War, and emphasizes how constitutional principles shape political activity. Accordingly, important figures, disputes, and judicial decisions are placed within the broader context of the constitutional system to explain how ideas and institutions, independently and in dialogue with the courts, have oriented political action and shaped events over time.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

This collection of essays examines American constitutionalism from the founding to the Progressive era. At its center is Abraham Lincoln’s statesmanship on slavery and secession. Additional essays consider issues and events leading to the Civil War, as well as its legacy. All the authors are students or colleagues of Herman Belz, the author of the central chapter, who has devoted ...

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Prologue: A Second American Revolution?

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pp. 9-26

In 1862, the secessionist Congress at Richmond commissioned a Great Seal for their newly formed Confederate States of America featuring a portrait of George Washington, mounted and in Revolutionary War uniform, at its center. The date surrounding the portrait was February 22, 1862—the 130th anniversary (New Style) of Washington’s birth. It was a curious choice for a disunionist Congress ...

I Constitutionalism Endangered: The Road to Civil War

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1 Martin Van Burenas Statesman

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pp. 29-54

Martin Van Buren stands at a signifi cant crossroads of antebellum political thought between old republican partisans of state rights and the Republican Party cause of “Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free Men.” His political thought is indispensable for understanding how the Jeff ersonian– Jacksonian coalition gave way to the sectional split of Civil War–era political parties. Van Buren’s long political career exemplifi es the persistent northern use...

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2 Lincoln on Black Citizenship

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pp. 55-80

Abraham Lincoln fi rst replied to the Dred Scott decision in Springfield, Illinois, on June 26, 1857. Among his several criticisms, he noted that the decision was “based on assumed historical facts which were not really true.”1 In particular, Lincoln questioned the factual basis of Taney’s argument denying national citizenship to African Americans. The latter had argued that since blacks were...

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3 Lincoln, Secession, and Revolution

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pp. 81-110

In political life, to question the desirability or necessity of the survival of the political community implicates the crime of treason. Similarly, confl ict over the internal structure of the political community, including the question of who should rule the society, implicates the danger of civil war.1 Southern secession in 1861 precipitated a crisis of American nationality defi ned by the convergence ...

II Legal Change and Constitutional Politics in Reconstruction and the Gilded Age

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4 The Trial of Jefferson Davis and the Americanization of Treason Law

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pp. 113-132

As the Civil War was concluding, Jefferson Davis, the recalcitrant Confederate president, hoped somehow to maintain the conflict and still bring the North to recognize Confederate independence. Fleeing Richmond on April 10, 1865, Davis made his way south, stopping at several places and encouraging his fellow citizens not to lose heart. “This has been a war of the people ...

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5 At Every Fireside

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pp. 133-160

Among the most important characteristics of American society through history have been commitments to constitutionalism, liberty, and the rule of law. Therefore constitutional history was a focus even of pioneer American historians.1 Once narrowly conceived as the history of evolving legal doctrine and governmental institutions, in recent decades historians have broadened ...

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6 “The Legitimate Object of Government”

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pp. 161-180

In his first political speech, a humble Abraham Lincoln said, “My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. I am in favor of a national bank. I am in favor of the internal improvement system, and a high protective tariff .”1 When the Republican Party came to power in 1861, it had the opportunity to implement this program, whose roots lay in Alexander Hamilton and ...

III Contesting the Legacy of Lincoln and the Civil War in the Progressive Era

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7 Woodrow Wilson and the Meaning of the Lincoln Legacy

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pp. 183-201

Among the many contributions of Herman Belz, perhaps the most meaningful from the perspective of a political theorist is Belz’s artful weaving of history and ideas in his many great works. Belz is among the very best historians of the United States, and he has achieved this accomplishment without suffocating the great, transcendent ideas of the American regime with the methodological...

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8 The Idea of Constitutional Conservatism in the Early Twentieth Century

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pp. 202-222

Until recently, scholars typically argued that social Darwinism and laissez-faire ideology transfixed early twentieth-century American constitutionalism. Th ese doctrines supposedly governed Supreme Court jurisprudence and justifi ed opposition to economic regulation. This interpretation repeated the indictment of Progressive-era reformers, scholars, and judges, ...

Notes

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pp. 223-268

Contributors

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pp. 269-272

Index

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pp. 273-274

Series

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pp. 275-278


E-ISBN-13: 9780823251995
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823251940
Print-ISBN-10: 0823251942

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 9 b/w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth
Series Title: The North's Civil War (FUP)