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Lincoln's Constitutionby Daniel A. Farber
"In his illuminating and unexpectedly timely book, Daniel Farber sets out to evaluate Lincoln's wartime decisions by taking seriously the legal arguments that Lincoln offered to justify them....Despite the great legal and technological differences between the scope of federal power today and in Lincoln's time, one lesson emerges clearly from Farber's narrative, and it is the danger of putting too little or too much faith in law during times of national emergency." Jeffrey Rosen, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
The Civil War brought pressure on the Constitution that had never been seen before and hasn't been seen since, testing it 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 and the issues at the heart of our constitution, issues 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 book in over seventy-five years to evaluate Lincoln's legal legacy comprehensively, Lincoln's Constitution is a marvelous blending of history and constitutional thought. Written for the intelligent 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.
"A timely and important book, which should provoke fruitful discussion of enduring issues of civil liberties and judicial philosophy." Richard Posner, New York Times Book Review
In Lincoln's Constitution Daniel Farber leads the reader to understand exactly how Abraham Lincoln faced the inevitable constitutional issues brought on by the Civil War. Examining what arguments Lincoln made in defense of his actions and how his words and deeds fit into the context of the times, Farber illuminates Lincoln's actions by placing them squarely within their historical moment. The answers here are crucial not only for a better understanding of the Civil War but also for shedding light on issues-state sovereignty, presidential power, and limitations on civil liberties in the name of national security-that continue to test the limits of constitutional law even today.
"A timely and important book, which should provoke fruitful discussion of enduring issues of civil liberties and judicial philosophy."--Richard Posner, New York Times Book Review
Includes bibliographical references (p. -234) and index.
About the Author
Daniel Farber is the Sho Sato Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and the McKnight Presidential Professor of Public Law at the University of Minnesota. He is the author or coauthor of five books, including Eco-pragmatism: Making Sensible Environmental Decisions in an Uncertain World and, with Suzanna Sherry, Desperately Seeking Certainty: The Misguided Quest for Constitutional Foundations, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Secession Crisis
Chapter 2: Sovereignty
Chapter 3: The Supreme Law of the Land
Chapter 4: The Union Forever?
Chapter 5: The Legitimacy of Coercion
Chapter 6: Presidential Power
Chapter 7: Individual Rights
Chapter 8: The Rule of Law in Dark Times
Afterword: The Lessons of History
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History and Social Science » Law » Constitutional Law