Cover image for Abraham Lincoln, constitutionalism, and equal rights in the Civil War era
Abraham Lincoln, constitutionalism, and equal rights in the Civil War era
Belz, Herman.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Fordham University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xi, 265 pages ; 24 cm.
Lincoln and the constitution: the dictatorship question reconsidered -- "Philosophical cause" of free government: the problem of Lincoln's political thought -- Abraham Lincoln and American constitutionalism -- Protection of personal liberty in Republican emancipation legislation -- Race, law, and politics in the struggle for equal pay during the Civil War -- Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1865 and the principle of no discrimination according to color -- New orthodoxy in reconstruction historiography -- Equality and the Fourteenth Amendment: the original understanding -- Constitution and reconstruction.
Reading Level:
1710 Lexile.

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E457.2 .B38 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This striking portrait of Abraham Lincoln found in this book is drawn entirely from the writing of his contemporaries and extends from his political beginnings in Springfield to his assassination. It reveals a more severely beleaguered, less godlike, and finally a richer Lincoln than has come through many of the biographies of Lincoln written at a distance after his death. To those who are familiar only with the various "retouched" versions of Lincoln's life, Abraham Lincoln: A Press Portrait will be a welcome--if sometimes surprising--addition to the literature surrounding the man who is perhaps the central figure in all of American history.

The brutality, indeed that malignancy of some of the treatment Lincoln received at the hands of the press may well shock those readers who believe the second half of the twentieth century has a monopoly on the journalism of insult, outrage, and indignation. That Lincoln acted with the calm and clarity he did under the barrage of such attacks can only enhance his stature as one of the great political leaders of any nation at any time.

Author Notes

Herman Belz is Professor of History at The University of Maryland at College Park and is a leading expert on the constitution and politics in the Civil War Era.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The American mind has long been divided over whether Abraham Lincoln was a tyrannical megalomaniac bent on trampling constitutional restraints to restore the Union and free the slaves or whether he was in fact a Henry Clay conservative Whig operating strictly within constitutional parameters. Two recent collections suggest persuasively that Lincoln was indeed operating carefully and very consciously within constitutional limits, albeit with a definite agenda to expand those limits (as Garry Wills and others have suggested), to embrace Jefferson's grander vision of human rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence. This volume of essays by Belz (Univ. of Maryland), an eminent Lincoln constitutional authority, explores in an intriguing interdisciplinary methodology Lincoln's constitutional orientation in prosecuting the war, freeing the slaves, and providing a blueprint for Reconstruction. Complements Think Anew, Act Anew: Abraham Lincoln on Slavery, Freedom, and Union (Ch, Jul'98), edited by noted Ulysses Grant and Civil War historian Brooks Simpson (Arizona State Univ.) Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. A. Fischer; University of MinnesotaDSDuluth

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Introduction: Constitution and Revolution in the Civil War Erap. 1
1 Lincoln and the Constitution: The Dictatorship Question Reconsideredp. 17
2 The Philosophical Cause"" of Free Government: The Problem of Lincoln's Political Thought""p. 44
3 Abraham Lincoln and American Constitutionalismp. 72
4 Protection of Personal Liberty in Republican Emancipation Legislationp. 101
5 Race, Law, and Politics in the Struggle for Equal Pay During the Civil Warp. 119
6 The Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1865 and the Principle of No Discrimination According to Colorp. 138
7 The New Orthodoxy in Reconstruction Historiographyp. 162
8 Equality and the Fourteenth Amendment: The Original Understandingp. 170
9 The Constitution and Reconstructionp. 187
Conclusion: Legitimacy, Consent, and Equality in the Reconstruction Settlementp. 217
Bibliographyp. 247
Indexp. 263