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Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America Paperback – September 4, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“The Civil War amendments redeemed the Constitution from the slavery concessions that had betrayed its preamble and perpetuated human bondage both North and South. Garrett Epps' new book is indispensable reading for Americans to know how our constitutional history has affected us all. A combination of the finest scholarship with unsurpassed insight.” ―William Van Alstyne, Perkins Professor of Law emeritus, Duke University; Lee Professor of Constitutional Law, College of William and Mary
“Garret Epps is one of our best legal historians, and he has produced a fascinating book on the creation and impact of the 14th Amendment. The people who wrote our Constitution were America's original Founders, but the amazing group that produced the 14th Amendment were like our second wave of Founders, helping our nation be reborn into the democracy it is today.” ―Walter Isaacson, author, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
“It is best to be blunt. This is a thrilling book. Garrett Epps has woven together the tragic strands of America's effort to deal with the issue of race in the Constitution. Law, politics and statecraft clash in a great drama.” ―Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon's Trumpet
“Garrett Epps is one of the most fluid and accessible writers in the legal academy. Not surprisingly, he has written a marvelous overview of immediate post-Civil War politics that gave us the Fourteenth Amendment and, as importantly, a new understanding of the American experiment.” ―Sanford Levinson, University of Texas Law School, author of Our Undemocratic Constitution: How the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)
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Top Customer Reviews
Johnson had been an ardent pro-Unionist during the War, having been selected the military governor of occupied Tennessee in 1862. Upon assuming the presidency in April, 1865, after Lincoln's assassination, he vowed to "punish and impoverish" the Southern traitors. However, in an extraordinary about face, he quickly granted amnesty, restoring full citizenship and confiscated property, to all except the most prominent Confederates, and they had only to declare loyalty to the Union and apply for a pardon. He basically enabled Southern oligarchs to resume the domination of freedmen - or in other words re-establish de facto slavery. Clearly, his anti-black sentiments outweighed his earlier class-based anger at the aristocratic, planter secessionists. Johnson is the major figure throughout the book and is portrayed in highly unflattering terms. His drunken speech at his inauguration was only a small window into a rigid, impulsive, belligerent, vindictive, and self-important personality.Read more ›
Garrett Epps is a skilled writer and Democracy Reborn is very readable. He ably captures the excitement of the time. The book is also a fairly complete recounting of the roles of most of the major players in the drama. All in all it is a very enjoyable and educational.
Most people imagine that democracy in America was something that came with the Revolutionary War. In reality, the founding fathers were deeply suspicious of the common people to make decisions regarding their political future. It would be a stretch to imagine that they foresaw the attack ad ridden political culture of today, but there is some merit in this thought. In the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800, a mere 2% of the voters of the state of New York were permitted to vote. In 1828, only 7% of the population took part in the election of Andrew Jackson. Popular voting for president occurred in South Carolina only after the Civil War. Changes came about only as migration to west made some of the property requirements irrelevant, but up until Reconstruction, White Male America might enjoy political rights (the franchise) and civil rights (the right to marry, make contracts) although not everyone had those rights (and would not until the repeal of the poll tax in the 1960s! African Americans were prevented from registering to vote until the mid-1960s, and there are still election year purges of the voting rolls in doubtful states in election years) .
The status of slaves evolved rapidly from 1858-1865, when Dred Scott asserted that slaves were not citizens, but chattel and enjoyed no more rights than cattle to the idea that newly freed Africans Americans would have both political and civil rights.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mr (or Professor?) Epps is said to have been a journalist before becoming a legal historian and that came through pretty clearly to me. Read morePublished on December 9, 2010 by MT57
Epps has written an outstanding work of biographical history centered around the villainy and political incompetence of Andrew Johnson and the colorful legislators and reformers... Read morePublished on August 18, 2007 by Not A Real Name