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
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.
"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)