The Broken Constitution

The Broken Constitution

Lincoln, Slavery, and the Refounding of America

Noah Feldman

$14.99

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Description

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

An innovative account of Abraham Lincoln, constitutional thinker and doer

Abraham Lincoln is justly revered for his brilliance, compassion, humor, and rededication of the United States to achieving liberty and justice for all. He led the nation into a bloody civil war to uphold the system of government established by the US Constitution—a system he regarded as the “last best hope of mankind.” But how did Lincoln understand the Constitution?

In this groundbreaking study, Noah Feldman argues that Lincoln deliberately and recurrently violated the United States’ founding arrangements. When he came to power, it was widely believed that the federal government could not use armed force to prevent a state from seceding. It was also assumed that basic civil liberties could be suspended in a rebellion by Congress but not by the president, and that the federal government had no authority over slavery in states where it existed. As president, Lincoln broke decisively with all these precedents, and effectively rewrote the Constitution’s place in the American system. Before the Civil War, the Constitution was best understood as a compromise pact—a rough and ready deal between states that allowed the Union to form and function. After Lincoln, the Constitution came to be seen as a sacred text—a transcendent statement of the nation’s highest ideals.

The Broken Constitution is the first book to tell the story of how Lincoln broke the Constitution in order to remake it. To do so, it offers a riveting narrative of his constitutional choices and how he made them—and places Lincoln in the rich context of thinking of the time, from African American abolitionists to Lincoln’s Republican rivals and Secessionist ideologues.

Includes 8 Pages of Black-and-White Illustrations


Author

Noah Feldman:

Noah Feldman is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University as well as a Senior Fellow of the Society of Fellows and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a contributing writer for Bloomberg View.

Before joining the Harvard faculty, Feldman was Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. He was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2005. In 2004, he was a visiting professor at Yale Law School and a fellow of the Whitney Humanities Center. In 2003, he served as senior constitutional advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, and advised members of the Iraqi Governing Council on the drafting of the Transitional Administrative Law or interim constitution. He served as a law clerk to Justice David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court (1998–1999). Selected as a Rhodes Scholar, he earned a D. Phil. in Islamic Thought from Oxford University and a J.D. from Yale Law School, serving as Book Reviews Editor of the Yale Law Journal. He received his A.B. summa cum laude in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 1992, finishing first in his class.

He is the author of several books, including Cool War: The Future of Global Competition; the award winning and acclaimed Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Justices; The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State; Divided By God: America's Church-State Problem and What We Should Do About It; and After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy. With Kathleen Sullivan, he coauthored textbooks on constitutional and first amendment law. He has worked as a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine.

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