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The Promises of Liberty: The History and Contemporary Relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment Hardcover – September 30, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0231141444 ISBN-10: 0231141440

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Editorial Reviews


An important addition to the scholarship on an important aspect of America's constitutional heritage.... Highly recommended.Choice


...this book is an informative treatment of a depressing subject.

(Helen Knowles H-Law)

This volume is well edited and the essayists expertly chosen. Alexander Tsesis of Loyola University Chicago School of Law has assembled an unusually compact and cogent collection of the best work on the Thirteenth Amendment.

(Christopher Waldrep Journal of American History)

A riveting, provocative collection of essays by what can only be described as an all-star team of historians and legal analysts.

(Michael S. Green Journal of the Civil War Era 1900-01-00)


The Thirteenth Amendment freeing the slaves was a landmark not only for the Constitution but for American society. Yet its enforcement and application, beyond the simple fact of emancipation, remain a source of both inspiration and disappointment. In this impressive collection of essays, a stellar group of historians and legal scholars address the Amendment's origins and early applications and the tantalizing though frustrated idea that its promise of equality remains to be fulfilled. From the vantage point of history and the law alike, The Promises of Liberty enables an understanding of why the Thirteenth Amendment mattered and why its complex legacy is so challenging to assess.

(Jack Rakove, Stanford University, author of The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence and Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America)

More About the Author

Alexander Tsesis has written on a variety of subjects, including the legal history of civil rights, the abolition of slavery, equal protection, due process, women's rights, children's rights, hate crimes, hate speech, and constitutional theory. His publications include five books: For Liberty and Equality: The Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence (Oxford University Press 2012), We Shall Overcome: A History of Civil Rights and the Law (Yale University Press 2008), Destructive Messages: How Hate Speech Paves the Way for Harmful Social Movements (New York University Press 2002), The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (New York University Press 2004), and The Promises of Liberty: Thirteenth Amendment Abolitionism and Contemporary Relevance (Columbia University Press 2010).

Tsesis is a Professor of Law at the Loyola University, Chicago, School of Law. He teaches Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, and seminars devoted to civil rights issues and constitutional interpretation.

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