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Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment (Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society) Hardcover – May 21, 2001


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Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment (Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society) + Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society
  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521652677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521652674
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,165,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This innovative, well-written work focuses on the emancipation of American slaves subsequent to the Emancipation Proclamation and leading up to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which constitutionalized the issue of slavery. Although Vorenberg (Brown Univ.) acknowledges the depth and breadth of scholarship addressing the progress of African Americans after the Civil War, he asserts that comparatively scant attention has been paid to the process by which emancipation was legalized. Personalities, famous and not so well known, on both sides of the emancipation issue are heard. The author's impressive research, which includes an extensive exploration of little-mined archival documents as well as quotations from the press and Congressional Record, gives a rich political, legal, and societal context to the crafting, progress, and implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Highly recommended for academic libraries. Kathleen M. Conley, Illinois State Univ., Normal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A well-researched, gracefully written account of the final emancipation of slaves in the United States, Final Freedom is a must-read for scholars interested in the history of slavery and abolition, African American history, legal and constitutional history, and general U.S. history." The Journal of Southern History

"This study is a remarkable piece of historical research and writing...A short review can barely do justice to the virtues of this outstanding work. Subtly argued and elegantly written, almost every page brims with fresh insights. Besides breathing new life into the constitutional scholarship of the Civil War era, Final Freedom also provides a valuable starting point for future work on the politics of emancipation." The Historian

"Important, long-awaited, and complex..." North Carolina Historical Review

"This is a fine study of the troubled steps to end slavery." American Historical Review

"Professional historians will long appreciate Michael Vorenberg's close description of that era's coming to grips with the necessary constitutional outcome of the nation's most traumatic upheaval." Journal of American Ethnic History

"The strength of Vorenberg's study lies in its detailed analysis of the limitations of wartime emancipation and the debate that ensued over an emancipation amendment." Journal of American History

"Vorenberg's observations about the larger importance of the Thirteenth Amendment serve to enhance appreciation for what should no longer be the overlooked member of the trio of Civil War constitutional amendments." H-Net Reviews

"This innovative, well-written work focuses on the emancipation of American slaves subsequent to the Emancipation Proclamation and leading up to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which constitutionalized the issue of slavery. Although Vorenberg (Brown Univ.) acknowledges the depth and breadth of scholarship addressing the progress of African Americans after the Civil War, he asserts that comparatively scant attention has been paid to the process by which emancipation was legalized. Personalities, famous and not so well known, on both sides of the emancipation issue are heard. The author's impressive research, which includes an extensive exploration of little-mined archival documents as well as quotations from the press and Congressional Record, gives a rich political, legal, and societal context to the crafting, progress, and implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Highly recommended..." Library Journal

"Final Freedom demonstrates that the Thirteenth Amendment was not an automatic sequel to the Emancipation Proclamation or an inevitable means of abolishing slavery. Instead, the Amendment's language, function, and meaning were contested. The story of its enactment and ratification, so well told here, is important and fascinating." James M. McPherson, Princeton University, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

"Vorenberg's compelling research...shows that the motivations of many participants [in the process of ratification] were diverse and complex." Journal of Illinois History

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Customer Reviews

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My interest in this book arose from Steven Spielberg's superb movie Lincoln.
Dr. Tom
If you saw the Spielberg "Lincoln" movie and were stimulated to read more about the real events, as I was, then this is the book to read.
ksct
The book concludes with coverage of the Amendment's legacy of civil rights legislation, especially in relation to the 14th Amendment.
Gderf

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This extraordinary and wonderfully written work will change the way that historians view slavery's demise. Previous accounts of the Thirteenth Amendment have depicted its coming as a natural consequence of the Civil War -- a way to make final the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation. Vorenberg shows us that the coming of the Thirteenth Amendment was not inevitable, explains how contingency influenced its development, and reveals the different reasons why Republicans, Democrats, and border state Unionists supported the Amendment.
Amending the Constitution to end slavery was only one of several ways that Americans considered. Vorenberg explains that antebellum Americans were extremely reluctant to revise their Constitution, and even many Republicans regarded constitutional revision to end slavery as too radical. The Civil War's persistence and bloodiness caused many to change their minds, and adopt the Democrats' position of unlimited amending power. Although many historians and legal scholars have downplayed the Thirteenth Amendment's significance, Vorenberg informs us that this amendment marked the beginning of Americans' using constitutional amendments as instruments of social reform. Further, in the years following the Thirteenth Amendment's ratification, Radical Republicans understood it to be the foundation of federal legislation on behalf of African Americans.
This book is well researched, extensively documented, and informed on many historiographical issues. It will benefit both general readers and specialists, and force textbook authors to revise their accounts regarding the end of slavery.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Along Red River of the North on November 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heartily concur with the other 5-star Editorial and Customer reviews about this outstanding book. My guess is that with the release of the excellent Spielberg movie, "Lincoln," many will want to know more about the historical context, contingencies and politics behind the landmark 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865 (only a couple months before the U.S. Civil War ended).

It is a shame that Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" is being marketed as the book behind the movie, because it is not! Not that it isn't a decent book. I think she was hired as a consultant for the movie, to get the character of major figures of Lincoln's cabinet (e.g., Seward and Stanton) right. That is what "Team of Rivals" is about - Lincoln's cabinet. But it is NOT about the fight for the 13th Amendment. For that story, "Final Freedom" is the best book on the subject, and I'd like to see Professor Vorenberg reap some well-deserved book sales.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Checochinican on November 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I thought I understood the American Civil War and its role in ending slavery in America, but "Final Freedom" goes far beyond what most history books have to say on the subject. The issue of slavery was an enormously complex one, and bringing it to an end was a process that took decades, perhaps even centuries. Vorenberg's treatment of attitudes towards the Constitution was a revelation to me. Many of those in political power regarded changing the Constitution the way a fundamentalist would think of changing the Bible. How that attitude was overcome is a fascinating journey which follows many paths.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gderf on January 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
I read this timely Thirteenth Amendment book after viewing the Spielberg movie 'Lincoln', purportedly based on Doris Kearn's 'Team of Rivals.' While lacking the dramatic impact of the movie, Vorenberg's book is far more informative than either the film or 'T of R.' Rather than viewing it in isolation, like the film, the book examines the amendment in the light of civil war history and prior abolition legislation. It also examines the legacy of the amendment throughout the next centuries.

The book depicts how abolition was assured by military victory as the Southern states realized slavery not feasible after the war. It presents the arguments over the meaning of the Amendment without over steering to a conclusion. It describes the politics surrounding passage of the Amendment without over dramatizing Lincoln's involvement. Nor does the author engage in the usual and familiar Lincoln character analysis. While not so close a vote as in the HR, the debate in the Senate was more interesting, involving whether the war was fought for Union or slavery. I find it interesting and curious that there is an amendment concerning slavery, but none to clarify the ties that bind states to the Union. Relevance to present day along with subsequent history of legal processing is well covered. There's a good introduction to the concept of reconceptualizing the Constitution with clarification that this was first time the Constitution was modified for a social purpose; the first time modified in contravention to framer's intent; the first instance showing the concept of originalism. The idea that Lincoln expanded government to develop natural resources requires more explanation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Tom on March 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
My interest in this book arose from Steven Spielberg's superb movie Lincoln. The account of the passage of the 13th Amendment was its focal point (a very smart decision both by the director and script writer) but I wanted to know, not unlike Paul Harvey, "the rest of the story." Clearly Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, while excellent in its own right, was not the source. Michael Vorenburg's excellent book, Final Freedom--particularly Chapter 7, "The King's Cure" --provided the backstory I was looking for . . . and much, much more.

The detail provided by this book is astonishing; almost no stone remains unturned. The Congressional struggle over the passage of the 13th Amendment was much more than its simple language ending slavery would lead one to believe, language that masked dramatically different interpretations and visions. The contest was actually one for the constitutional soul of America, for until the 13th Amendment almost no one seems to have understood that the amendment process could be used to fix problems the founders could not possibly have anticipated. In the minds of most at that time, you either accepted the Constitution as it was or you didn't. Not to accept it was to reject the Founders and considered heresy, which was precisely what William Lloyd Garrison was accused of when he burned the Constitution as a pro-slavery document, while Frederick Douglass could look at that same piece of paper and conclude that it was an anti-slavery document.
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