Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation
Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Cover and Front Matter
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PROLOGUE: Capturing the Flag, Capturing the Constitution
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Much has been written since 9/11 about the various attempts in American history to “capture the flag” for one political cause or another.1 Historians commonly accuse the Republican Party of attempting to capture the flag during the Civil War. The Democrats by no means conceded the flag to their...
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The American Constitution was twice tested during the Civil War and then radically reshaped by the amending process, a movement well under way when the war ended. I say the Constitution was “twice” tested because the Constitution of the Confederate States of America was a deliberately...
PART 1 THE PRESIDENT AND THE NATION
1 Secession and Anarchy: Lincoln’s View of the Constitution and the Nation
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When Confederates fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, they put the nation and its Constitution to the first life-threatening test since the War of 1812. The results of the previous test by arms had not proved particularly encouraging. The United States all but lost the War of 1812. Diplomatic...
2 Habeas Corpus, the Nation, and the Presidency
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President Lincoln’s first regular message to Congress, of December 3, 1861, laid to rest his arguments about secession. “The inaugural address at the beginning of the Administration, and the message to Congress at the late special session,” he wrote, “were both mainly devoted to the domestic...
3 The Emancipation Proclamation: The Triumph of Nationalism over Racism and the Constitution
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The most important constitutional development on the eve of the Civil War was the growth of constitutional racism. The U.S. Constitution of 1787 was not an expressly racist document, and the word “white” nowhere appeared in it. To take a look at the common understanding of the document seventy...
PART 2 THE COURTS AND THE NATION
4 Soldiers in the Courtroom
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The Union enjoyed the luxury of a great advantage in manpower in the Civil War. We can see the effects of that advantage almost as much on the homefront as on the battlefields of the war. The Union authorities hoped for voluntarism. They encouraged voluntarism. When that failed they threatened...
5 The Nation in the Courts: The Least Dangerous Branch Fights the Civil War
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Roger B. Taney hoped that the U.S. Supreme Court could play a configurative role in the Civil War. Providence had preserved him for this moment, he thought. With the departure of the Southern Democrats from Congress, only the courts stood in the path of fanatical Republicanism, which...
PART 3 THE CONFEDERACY AND ITS CONSTITUTION
6 Secession: Deratifying the Constitution
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Ira Berlin has introduced the distinction between a slave society and a society with slaves, attributing these stern qualities to the former: “In slave societies . . . slavery stood at the center of economic production, and the master-slave relationship provided the model for all social relations: husband and wife...
7 The Police State of Richmond
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Had the Confederacy been allowed to establish a new nation without hindrance, it would surely have been a slave republic, as the United States was already, only with a greater proportion of slaves in it. There was nothing in the Confederate Constitution to suggest otherwise. There was nothing in...
8 State Rights in the Confederacy
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The critical study of Confederate history began only in 1925 with Frank L. Owsley’s State Rights in the Confederacy. Up to that time a nostalgic celebration of Confederate nationalism reigned in the South in the form of the Lost Cause myth. Owsley found fault with the myth, especially in its...
EPILOGUE: Other Wars
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After the Union defeat at the Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, the U.S. Congress hastened to pass a resolution disavowing any radical aims in the war and affirming that the country was fighting only for the Constitution and the Union (and not with any intent “of overthrowing or interfering with...
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Professor Jonathan W. White of Christopher Newport University read much of this book and offered valuable criticism. Moreover, he shared with me the results of his research on points he knew would be of interest to me. All of this was offered in a generous and cheerful way. Sylvia Neely...
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Page Count: 424
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Littlefield History of the Civil War Era