The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution

The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution Review

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, an authoritative story of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation’s foundation.

The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed due process and the equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. The federal government, not the states, was put in charge of enforcement. By grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, the amendments marked the second founding of the United States.

Eric Foner’s rich, insightful history conveys the dramatic origins of these revolutionary amendments in citizen meetings and political negotiations. He explores the momentous court decisions that then narrowed and even nullified the rights guaranteed in these amendments. Today, issues of birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection are still in dispute, the ideal of equality yet to be achieved.

Title:The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution

    The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution Reviews

  • Ryan Boissonneault

    We shouldn’t forget that the original United States Constitution, for all its brilliance, did explicitly condone the practice of slavery. For example, the “three-fifths compromise” counted slave...

  • Donald Powell

    History is so important. I wish more people would spend more time learning, discussing and making decisions based upon our own, fairly recent, history. Eric Foner is the pre-eminent historian regardin...

  • Kurt Ronn

    The next time politics of equality enters a conversation and someone says that they are a strict constitutionalist, ask them about forced slavery, women’s rights, and Asian immigrants. Tell them tha...

  • Aletha Pagett

    This book, received from Goodreads, is an in depth exploration of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments. The depth of research and scholarship is superb. This should be a must read in t...

  • Adam Shields

    Summary: A historical look at the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments in the context of reconstruction history.I am a big fan of Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877 by Eric Foner....

  • C.

    It seems like forever ago that I first read Eric Foner. To be precise, it was 30 years ago, I was a graduate student in history, and his "Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution" blew me away ...

  • Socraticgadfly

    Very good overview of how our three Reconstruction amendments came to be. The Thirteenth is the most straightforward, and has had the least judicial application since passage.The Fourteenth, on the ot...

  • Alex

    Covers a lot of ground that Foner has gone over before. But it's not for nothing that he is the preeminent historian of the political, legal, and social revolutions that happened during the Civil War ...

  • Matt

    Good enough. I'm bad with keeping tons of names and dates straight, but there was definitely some good insight into the backstory behind the 13th, 14th and 15th amendment....

  • skippyo jifricanus

    the continued insistence by the country's most prominent "left"-leaning academics that america is a work-in-progress gently rendered egalitarian by a malleable constitution isn't just flimsy, citation...