Lincoln's Constitution

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Lincoln's Constitution

Author: Daniel A. Farber
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 256
Cover Price: $ 27.50

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The Civil War brought pressure on the Constitution that had never been seen before and hasn't been seen since, testing the document in much the same way as an engineer tests his materials to destruction to assess their structure. Did the South have the right to secede? Did Abraham Lincoln trample on the Bill of Rights? Can the president go to war without congressional approval? What is the nature of the Union, and what are the limits of states' rights? Forced to confront these issues during the Civil War, Lincoln ran squarely into the conflicts at the heart of our Constitution, conflicts that remain with us today.

Daniel Farber's purpose in Lincoln's Constitution is to lead the reader to understand exactly what Lincoln did, what arguments he made in defense of his actions, and how his words and deeds fit into the context of the times. Farber sets the constitutional problems that arose during Lincoln's term within their historical moment, as illuminated by recent work by historians, and investigates how well Lincoln's views hold up today - over a century later. The answers are crucial not only for a better understanding of the Civil War but also for shedding light on issues that the courts struggle with now: state sovereignty, presidential power, and national security limitations on civil liberties.

The first comprehensive evaluation of Lincoln's legal legacy in over seventy-five years, Lincoln's Constitution is a marvelous blending of history and constitutional thought. Written for the general reader, its insights speak urgently to us as our nation again finds itself in a time of danger and the limits of constitutional law are once more being tested.

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Background Information

American Civil War lasted from the bombardment of Fort Sumter in 1861 to the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865. Secessionis the reverse of union, and involves the separation of a part of a unified country into political independence. The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution guarantee certain freedoms for Americans and are collectively terms the Bill of Rights. The United States Constitution is the written document by which both the federal government was instituted. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President and led the Union during the Civil War. The dividing line between the powers of the federal government, designated by the Constitution, and those reserved for the states has long been controversial.