Frederick J. Blue
The sheer number of historical works dealing with the constitutional and political factors contributing to the causes of the Civil War makes a bibliographic study of the most important secondary sources a difficult task at best. The problem is made more complex because the two areas are often approached by historians as separate and distinct fields, though they are closely related. As a result, few of the interpretations integrate the two topics. Thus, while judicial decisions dealing with sectional issues directly affected the political situation and in fact seriously altered the two-party structure of the antebellum years, historians have logically emphasized only one of the fields even as they recognized the impact of the other.
Constitutional studies dealing with the years leading to the Civil War have emphasized issues relating to slavery and the resulting jurisdictional disputes between central and state governments. While many accounts focus narrowly on limited aspects of the constitutional issues relating to slavery, that of Harold Hyman and William M. Wiecek, Equal Justice under Law: Constitutional Development, 1835-1875 ( 1982), fuses political narrative with constitutional development. In fact, the authors show that constitutional issues in these years were often closer to politics than they were to jurisprudence. Although they treat all aspects of constitutional history, their emphasis is on the familiar but frequently misunderstood slavery controversy and how it evolved during the tenures of chief justices Roger B. Taney and Salmon P. Chase. Sympathetic to the