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Download Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American by George P. Fletcher PDF

By George P. Fletcher

During this perspective-altering new e-book, George P. Fletcher asserts that the Civil struggle used to be the main major occasion in American legal background, an occasion that not just abolished slavery and altered the legislation of the land but additionally created a brand new set of rules that keeps to lead our considering this present day.

a lot as historians and lawmakers try to keep up a continuity with the structure of 1787, Fletcher indicates that the Civil battle provided a rupture not just among North and South yet among visions of the U.S.. the 1st structure was once in line with the rules of peoplehood as a voluntary organization, person freedom, and republican elitism. the govt selected via "We the People" sought, in particular, to guard the rights of people and to restrict the management of the kingdom to a choose few. It was once a structure, additionally, that accommodated the main undemocratic establishment that you can think of: slavery. the second one structure, solid at the killing fields of Vicksburg and Antietam, articulated in Lincoln's visionary Gettysburg handle, and enacted within the 13th, Fourteenth, and 15th Amendments, reinvented the us in accordance with the rules of natural nationhood, equality of all folks, and well known democracy. Fletcher exhibits how those better ideas, even though suppressed for many years, form our sensibilities this day in our efforts to extend the variety of these secure as equivalent below the legislation, to advertise equality within the place of work, to guard the pursuits of these who're at a aggressive drawback, to reconsider the bounds of loose speech and of non secular liberty, and to amend the structure within the spirit of renowned democracy.

Written with ardour, readability, and sweeping historic wisdom, Our mystery Constitution will essentially swap the best way we view our prior and convey new readability to the problems we confront this day.

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Extra info for Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy

Example text

The confusion came to a head in 1868 when the House impeached Lincoln's successor, President Andrew Johnson, for arguably asserting excessive executive power in firing his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The outcome of that impeachment trial is well known: Johnson avoided conviction by one vote. Less well known is the outcome of the struggle to develop a new constitutional order, the struggle that is signaled in Lincoln's address commemorating the dead at Gettysburg. our fathers brought forth on this continent...

Customary rules determine the role of the Crown in a system that has evolved as a constitutional monarchy. 19 In all systems of customary law, the relevant perspective is not that of those who first engage in the practice but rather of those who witness the pattern of the past and adopt it as binding on themselves. So it is with the Gettysburg Address. The right question is not what Lincoln intended, but rather what the words meant to those who looked to them as the explanation of the war and as a charter for freedom and equality for all Americans.

They remind us of the way God introduces himself to Moses in the Book of Exodus: "I am the God of your father... So I have come down to rescue [my people] from the hand of Egypt, to bring it up from that land to a land, goodly and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey. . " It is not surprising that Lincoln would evoke the style of Exodus. Even the introductory phrase "four score and seven" has a prophetic ring. The Bible, after all, was one of Lincoln's favorite books—along with the works of Shakespeare and Aesop's Fables.

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