By George P. Fletcher

ISBN-10: 0195141423

ISBN-13: 9780195141429

During this perspective-altering new publication, George P. Fletcher asserts that the Civil battle was once the main major occasion in American legal historical past, an occasion that not just abolished slavery and adjusted the legislation of the land but additionally created a brand new set of rules that maintains to steer our pondering this day.

a lot as historians and lawmakers attempt to keep up a continuity with the structure of 1787, Fletcher indicates that the Civil struggle awarded a rupture not just among North and South yet among visions of the U.S.. the 1st structure was once in keeping with the foundations of peoplehood as a voluntary organization, person freedom, and republican elitism. the govt selected by way of "We the People" sought, mainly, to guard the rights of people and to restrict the management of the state to a decide upon few. It was once a structure, additionally, that accommodated the main undemocratic establishment that you can think of: slavery. the second one structure, solid at the killing fields of Vicksburg and Antietam, articulated in Lincoln's visionary Gettysburg tackle, and enacted within the 13th, Fourteenth, and 15th Amendments, reinvented the us in line with the foundations of natural nationhood, equality of all people, and renowned democracy. Fletcher exhibits how those greater rules, although suppressed for many years, form our sensibilities this present day in our efforts to extend the diversity of these safe as equivalent less than the legislations, to advertise equality within the place of work, to defend the pursuits of these who're at a aggressive drawback, to reconsider the bounds of loose speech and of non secular liberty, and to amend the structure within the spirit of well known democracy.

Written with ardour, readability, and sweeping ancient wisdom, Our mystery Constitution will essentially swap the best way we view our previous and convey new readability to the problems we confront this day.

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Additional resources for Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy

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Yet, there is no evidence that the country's circumstances were anywhere near this flashpoint of imminent destruction. And Lincoln's casual disdain for the writ of habeas corpus ("it relieves more of the guilty than of the innocent") reveals a lack of appreciation for the point of constitutional protections in criminal procedure. My own reading is that Lincoln's suspending the writ on his own initiative and disregarding Taney's supposed invalidation of the decision testifies to an altered state of constitutional thinking.

The realization of equality in practical affairs will always elude us. Even after this aspiration was incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment, the ideal of equality remained a distant point on the spectrum of political possibilities. Eventually, women would be rendered politically equal and receive the franchise; eventually, the schools would be integrated and the laws against mixed marriages would, with a sense of shame that they ever existed, be struck down. None of this was obvious in 1863 or 1868 or even in 1900.

In this limited sense, the "nation" is constituted by a federal government in Washington or by a physical space staked out on maps and recognized by other countries. The nation is then equivalent to the Union or the federal government. But the issue is not the authority of the "national" government in contrast to states' rights. The derivative sense of nationhood as denoting "unified at a federal level" is surely present as a subsidiary meaning in Lincoln's invocation of the term, but this could not possibly be all that he meant to say.

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Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy by George P. Fletcher


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