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

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

19

The Union Sundered

The Election of 1860 • Secession Winter • “And the War
Came” • The Provisional Confederate Constitution • The
Permanent Confederate Constitution • Defects in the
Confederate Scheme • The Political Party as a War Tool •
Lincoln Takes Control • Ex Parte Merryman Judicial
Reorganization in Wartime • The Adequacy of the
Constitution • War Powers and the Rebellion • Defining
Rebel Status • The Growth of National Power • The
Emancipation Proclamation • The Thirteenth Amendment •
For Further Reading

SOUTHERN SECESSION AND the Civil War provided an opportunity for the United States to resolve the seemingly intractable constitutional issues that had plagued the nation since the Founding. In the end, secession and the war set the stage for the abolition of slavery—something that would never have been politically or constitutionally possible if the slave states had remained in the Union. Battlefield victories made these fundamental changes possible, while President Lincoln's practical political sense, steely resolve, and rhetorical skill shaped their implementation. At the heart of the fundamental changes brought about by the war, stood the question that Lincoln posed so eloquently at Gettysburg: whether the government “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” could endure.

In important ways Lincoln's persistent return to the Declaration of Independence reshaped American culture and politics by making equality the central meaning of American democracy and by reinterpreting the Declaration as the most important “text” of American society. In doing this, Lincoln relied on an idealized and historically inaccurate understanding of the Founders, and their views on race, equality, and slavery. Nevertheless, rhetorically, Lincoln provided a usable past, however misleading, to help justify the carnage of the Civil War and help rally Northerners to the cause of both perpetuating the Union and ending slavery.

The Civil War also raised issues of how a constitution, designed for a limited government, could function during what amounted to total war, complicated by the fact

-401-

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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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