Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Conlin, "The Constitutional Origins of the American Civil War"

Cambridge University Press has published The Constitutional Origins of the American Civil War (June 2019), by Michael F. Conlin (Eastern Washington University). A description from the Press:
In an incisive analysis of over two dozen clauses as well as several 'unwritten' rules and practices, The Constitutional Origins of the American Civil War shows how the Constitution aggravated the sectional conflict over slavery to the point of civil war. Going beyond the fugitive slave clause, the three-fifths clause, and the international slave trade clause, Michael F. Conlin demonstrates that many more constitutional provisions and practices played a crucial role in the bloody conflict that claimed the lives of over 750,000 Americans. He also reveals that ordinary Americans in the mid-nineteenth century had a surprisingly sophisticated knowledge of the provisions and the methods of interpretation of the Constitution. Lastly, Conlin reminds us that many of the debates that divide Americans today were present in the 1850s: minority rights vs. majority rule, original intent vs. a living Constitution, state's rights vs. federal supremacy, judicial activism vs. legislative prerogative, secession vs. union, and counter-majoritarianism vs. democracy.
A few blurbs:
The Constitutional Origins of the American Civil War is a must-read for anyone interested in either the constitutional dimensions of the conflict over slavery or the influence of constitutional arguments on public policy debates more generally.' -- Earl Maltz

‘Michael F. Conlin has given us an authoritative biography of the Founders' Constitution as the People's charter. His exhaustively researched and brilliantly argued book should lay to rest any doubt that the original Constitution was responsible for the Civil War.' -- H. Robert Baker
More information is available here.

-- Karen Tani