The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America
By Garrett Epps
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805071306, 352pp.)
Publication Date: August 22, 2006
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A riveting narrative of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, an act which revolutionized the U.S. constitution and shaped the nation's destiny in the wake of the Civil War
Though the end of the Civil War and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation inspired optimism for a new, happier reality for blacks, in truth the battle for equal rights was just beginning. Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's successor, argued that the federal government could not abolish slavery. In Johnson's America, there would be no black voting, no civil rights for blacks.
When a handful of men and women rose to challenge Johnson, the stage was set for a bruising constitutional battle. Garrett Epps, a novelist and constitutional scholar, takes the reader inside the halls of the Thirty-ninth Congress to witness the dramatic story of the Fourteenth Amendment's creation. At the book's center are a cast of characters every bit as fascinating as the Founding Fathers. Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, among others, understood that only with the votes of freed blacks could the American Republic be saved.
Democracy Reborn offers an engrossing account of a definitive turning point in our nation's history and the significant legislation that reclaimed the democratic ideal of equal rights for all U.S. citizens.
Garrett Epps is the author of The Shad Treatment and The Floating Island: A Tale of Washington. He is the Orlando John and Marian H. Hollis Professor at the University of Oregon School of Law. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.