For Liberty and Equality: The Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence

By Alexander Tsesis | Go to book overview

10
RECONSTRUCTION

HOPE BLOOMED AT THE END OF THE CIVIL WAR THAT VICTORY WOULD prove the Declaration of Independence’s statements about equality, liberty, and happiness to be far more than empty generalities. As at no time since the Revolution, the nation recognized that its tolerance of racial inequality was incompatible with the founding principles. The Constitution would need to be amended to eliminate the force of its slave-holding provisions. The Declaration would influence the dialogue of reform; it was an ancient but living manifesto with universal values, whose principle of equal inalienable rights was informed by the past as well as the wisdom of later generations.

In a eulogy for Abraham Lincoln, after John Wilkes Booth’s bullet felled the president, Sen. Charles Sumner was adamant that postbellum America should prevent racial injustice. Sumner rallied the country to live up to the ideals of the American Revolution. Victory over the Confederate States, he said, “will have failed unless it performs all the original promises of that Declaration which our fathers took upon their lips when they became a nation.” Sumner called on the nation to fulfill Lincoln’s vision, drawing on the Republic’s continuing obligation to finish the work of Emancipation “and the promises of the Declaration of Independence unfulfilled.” Freedom

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For Liberty and Equality: The Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Becoming Independent 6
  • 3 - The Nation’s Infancy 24
  • 4 - Youthful Republic 40
  • 5 - Compromising for the Sake of Expansion 57
  • 6 - Jacksonian Era Democracy 75
  • 7 - Subordination 100
  • 8 - The Unraveling Bonds of Union 129
  • 9 - Sectional Cataclysm 148
  • 10 - Reconstruction 179
  • 11 - Racial Tensions 202
  • 12 - Advancing Women’s Causes 215
  • 13 - The Changing Face of Labor 227
  • 14 - International Impact and Domestic Advance 241
  • 15 - The Declaration in a New Deal State 264
  • 16 - Independence Principles in the Civil Rights Era 283
  • 17 - Epilogue 312
  • Acknowledgments 319
  • Appendix - The Declaration of Independence 321
  • Notes 327
  • Index 377
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