A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States - Vol. 1

By Melvin I. Urofsky; Paul Finkelman | Go to book overview

17

The Peculiar Laws of
America's Peculiar Institution

Slavery in the New Nation • The Missouri Compromise •
Black and White Opposition to Slavery: Slave Rebels and New
Abolitionists • Abolitionist Theories and the Constitution •
Abolitionist Use of the Law • Slaves in Transit •
Antebellum Race Discrimination • Federal Fugitive Slave
Laws • Prigg v. Pennsylvania • Law and Conscience •
Southern Slave Codes • Controlling the Bondsmen • Slaves
and Criminal Law • Manumission • Free Blacks •
Conclusion • For Further Reading

DESPITE GROWING NATIONALISM and prosperity, the United States still had a long way to go before it could realize Daniel Webster's vision of a country bound by a common allegiance to particular ideals and loyalty to a single government. The old debate between national supremacy and states' rights had assumed a new lease on life in the nullification crisis of 1832. Even more important—and more dangerous to the stability of the Union—was the emergence of slavery as the central political, social, and constitutional problem of the nation. Starting with the Missouri Compromise debate of 1819–20, the South's “peculiar institution” came under increasing attack. Slavery ultimately put an intolerable strain on the political system and constitutional order, and raised profound questions about the nature of American government.

The rise of slavery as a political issue was due to a number of factors. These include the end of slavery in the North, the Missouri Compromise debates, the response of blacks to slavery, the emergence of the abolitionist movement in the 1830s, the ossifying of attitudes among white Southerners on race and slavery, the maturing of the Southern slave culture, the realization throughout the North that the South would never end slavery on its own, and the conflict between the North and South over the return of fugitive slaves.

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A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • For Susan and Byrgen—yet Again v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • 1: From the Old World to the New 1
  • 2: Law in Colonial America 17
  • 3: The Road to Independence 39
  • 4: The Revolutionary Era 61
  • 5: The Crisis of Confederation 80
  • 6: A More Perfect Union 93
  • 7: Launching the Great Experiment 120
  • 8: The Supreme Court: the First Decade 147
  • 9: The Changing Face of the Law 165
  • 10: Adams, Jefferson, and the Courts 181
  • 11: The Marshall Court and National Power 207
  • 12: The Marshall Court and Economic Development 229
  • 13: A Law Made for the Times 248
  • 14: Politics, Nationalism, and Competition 271
  • 15: Jacksonian Democracy 296
  • 16: The Taney Court: Change and Continuity 320
  • 17: The Peculiar Laws of America's Peculiar Institution 337
  • 18: A House Dividing 366
  • 19: The Union Sundered 401
  • 20: The Union Unrestored 429
  • 21: Reconstruction 451
  • 22: The Court and Civil Rights 479
  • Appendixes - The Declaration of Independence 501
  • Articles of Confederation 505
  • Constitution of the United States 511
  • Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court 528
  • Case Index 537
  • Subject Index 542
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