Preserving the Constitution: Essays on Politics and the Constitution in the Reconstruction Era

Fordham Univ Press, 2006 - 314 páginas

"Americans' ideas about constitutional liberty played a crucial role in the history of Reconstruction. They provided the basis for the Republican program of equal rights; ironically, they also set the limits to that program and reduced the prospects for its success. Americans were as concerned with preserving the Constitution as they were with changing it to protect liberty and equal rights. These two commitments were in profound tension. The question was how one could change the constitutional system to fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence--to entrench a republic dedicated to liberty instead of slavery--and yet preserve the essentials of federalism and local democracy. Almost 150 years later we still struggle with these problems."
--Michael Les Benedict, from the Introduction

Historians and legal scholars continue to confront the failure of Reconstruction, exploring the interaction of pervasive racism with widespread commitments to freedom and equality. In this important book, one of America's leading historians confronts the constitutional politics of the period from the end of the Civil
War until 1877.

Benedict updates ten of his classic essays that explore the way Republicans tried to replace the slaveholding republic with a nation dedicated to freedom and equality of basic legal and political rights--and how Americans' constitutional commitments, and those of Republicans themselves, limited reform.

Expertly bridging legal, political, party history, the essays explore the fate of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, as well as the struggle between President and Congress over the course of Reconstruction. Brought together for the first time with a new introduction, and revised to reflect emerging scholarship, the essays are essential points of departure for students and scholars in history, law, and political science.


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Páginas selecionadas


Preserving the Constitution The Conservative Basis of Radical Reconstruction
The Rout of Radicalism Republicans and the Elections of 1867
A New Look at the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
The Party Going Strong Congress and Elections in the MidNineteenth Century
Factionalism and Representation Some Insight from the NineteenthCentury United States
The Politics of Reconstruction
Salmon P Chase and Constitutional Politics
The Problem of Constitutionalism and Constitutional Liberty in the Reconstruction South
Reform Republicans and the Retreat from Reconstruction
Southern Democrats in the Crisis of 187677 A Reconsideration of Reunion and Reaction
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Página xi - Congress a proposed amendment declaring that "the Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to secure to the citizens of each State all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and to all persons in the several States equal protection in the rights of life, liberty, and property.
Página 9 - As there are no symptoms that the people of these provinces will be prepared to participate in constitutional government for some years, I know of no arrangement so proper for them as territorial governments. There they can learn the principles of freedom and eat the fruit of foul rebellion.

Sobre o autor (2006)

Michael Les Benedict is Professor Emeritus of History at Ohio State University. His recent books include The Blessings of Liberty: A Concise History of the Constitution of the United States and The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson.

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