Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment

By Michael Vorenberg | Go to book overview

Final Freedom

This book examines emancipation after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and during the last years of the American Civil War. Focusing on the making and meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment, Final Freedom looks at the struggle among legal thinkers, politicians, and ordinary Americans in the North and the border states to find a way to abolish slavery that would overcome the inadequacies of the Emancipation Proclamation. The book tells the dramatic story of the creation of a constitutional amendment and reveals an unprecedented transformation in American race relations, politics, and constitutional thought. Using a wide array of archival and published sources, Professor Vorenberg argues that the crucial consideration of emancipation occurred after, not before, the Emancipation Proclamation; that the debate over final freedom was shaped by a level of volatility in society and politics underestimated by prior historians; and that the abolition of slavery by constitutional amendment represented a novel method of reform that transformed attitudes toward the Constitution.

Michael Vorenberg is Assistant Professor of History at Brown University.

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Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Slavery's Constitution 8
  • 2 - Freedom's Constitution 36
  • 3 - Facing Freedom 61
  • 4 - Debating Freedom 89
  • 5 - The Key Note of Freedom 115
  • 6 - The War Within a War: Emancipation and the Election of 1864 141
  • 7 - A King's Cure 176
  • 8 - The Contested Legacy of Constitutional Freedom 211
  • Appendix: Votes on Antislavery Amendment 251
  • Bibliography 253
  • Index 297
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