The irreducibly constitutional nature of the Civil War’s prelude and legacy is the focus of this absorbing collection of nine essays by a diversity of political theorists and historians. The contributors examine key constitutional developments leading up to the war, the crucial role of Abraham Lincoln’s statesmanship, and how the constitutional aspects of the war and Reconstruction endured in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This thoughtful, informative volume covers a wide range of topics: from George Washington’s conception of the Union and his fears for its future to Martin Van Buren’s state-centered, anti-secessionist federalism; from Lincoln’s approach to citizenship for African Americans to Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to appropriate Lincoln for the goals of Progressivism. Each essay zeroes in on the constitutional causes or consequences of the war and emphasizes how constitutional principles shape political activity. Accordingly, important figures, disputes, and judicial decisions are placed within the broader context of the constitutional system to explain how ideas and institutions, independently and in dialogue with the courts, have oriented political action and shaped events over time.
Constitutionalism in the Approach and Aftermath of the Civil War is a stunning collection, one worthy of the attention of everyone with an interest in the political questions surrounding the nature and extent of constitutionalism in the American republic. Paul Moreno and Johnathan O'Neill have assembled a stellar group of essayists whose contributions both broaden and deepen our understanding of this important issue. It is also altogether fittting that such a superb collection should be dedicated to one of the nation's most distinguished constitutionalists, Professor Herman Belz.
University of Richmond
“This important book doesn’t consider the Civil War in isolation but links up the war with the great constitutional questions of the Revolution and the Progressive Era. It is a valuable and original contribution to the field of legal history and American history more broadly.”
—Daniel W. Hamilton
University of Illinois College of Law
The Civil War has not usually been studied as a constitutional conflict. Yet it was a constitutional struggle, fully as much as a military one, from the first clangor of secession to the postwar controversies over confiscation, treason, and military tribunals. And on any of those points, it was a war which could be lost as easily by the change of one vote on the Supreme Court as it could by one change of outcome in a battle.These issues have been given a new life by the way they have resurfaced in the War on Terror, and this masterful collection of essays not onloy illuminates them with never-before-seen historical research, but skilfully links the constitutionalism of the Civil War era with modern debates and concepts of the Constitution.
—Allen C. Guelzo
Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era, Gettysburg College