"A patient and exemplary analysis of the work of the first six Congresses." - Times' Literary Supplement "Currie's impressive book reminds us that Congress transformed the Constitution from theory and aspiration to a government of 'concrete and functioning institutions.'" - Choice"
From the Inside Flap
This acclaimed series serves as a biography of the U.S. Constitution, offering an indispensable survey of the congressional history behind its development. In a rare examination of the role that both the legislative and executive branches have played in the development of constitutional interpretation, The Constitution in Congress shows how the actions and proceedings of these branches reveal perhaps even more about constitutional disputes than Supreme Court decisions of the time.
The centerpiece for the fourth volume in this series is the great debate over slavery and how this divisive issue led the country into the maelstrom of the Civil War. From the Jacksonian revolution of 1829 to the secession of Southern states from the Union, legal scholar David P. Currie provides an unrivaled analysis of the significant constitutional events—the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and “Bleeding Kansas”—that led up to the war. For example, issues concerning the purview of congressional and presidential powers and the use of force raised by the conflict with Mexico served as precedents in the secession crisis. Exploring how both slavery and secession were addressed in presidential speeches and debated on the floor of Congress, Currie shows how the Southern Democrats dangerously diminished federal authority and expanded states’ rights, threatening the nation’s very survival.
Like its predecessors, this fourth volume of The Constitution in Congress will be an invaluable reference for both legal scholars and constitutional historians.