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Slavery's Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  70 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Taking on decades of received wisdom, David Waldstreicher has written the first book to recognize slavery's place at the heart of the U.S. Constitution. Famously, the Constitution never mentions slavery. And yet, of its eighty-four clauses, six were directly concerned with slaves and the interests of their owners. Five other clauses had implications for slavery that were c ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 22nd 2010 by Hill and Wang (first published June 23rd 2009)
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Mar 15, 2011 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though the Constitution never explicitly mentions slavery, it's legacy is throughout. Of the 84 clauses, "six are directly concerned with slaves and their owners. Five others had implications for slavery that were considered and debated. . . " I'm not sure we'll ever escape our heritage of bondage. Even the interpretations of the opinions rendered in Heller and McDonald were grounded firmly in the history of slavery. The minority, which argued for a "militia" interpretation noted that James ...more
Mike Anastasia
Jul 17, 2014 Mike Anastasia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a student of Dr. Waldstreicher's, I am not shy to say that this book is a wonderfully succinct account of the banality of attention the Founding Fathers allotted the institution of slavery in early American written law.

The Constitution dances around the issue of slavery half a dozen times from the prelude to the amendments, but the world 'slavery' is never used and its regulation is certainly not included. Historically speaking, this is curious because most of the signers of the Declaration
Joseph Stieb
Part of a broad historiographical push to de-mythologize the founding era and the founders themselves, this short book argues the Constitution was basically a proslavery document that went beyond sectional compromise to offer numerous protections for slavery that drew the lines for American politics for the next half century or more. Focusing on the Constitution's protections of property rather than liberty, Waldstreicher shows that while it uses coded or euphemistic language, the Constitution p ...more
Nov 30, 2009 Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about a virtually forbidden topic: how slavery was enabled in the US constitution of 1787. It required a Civil War and a constitutional amendment (the 13th, passed at the end of the Civil War, in December of 1865) to end it.

The first constitution – the Articles of Confederation – had created the de facto basis of a central government in 1777, providing the foundation for the Continental Congress in the early phase of the Revolution. The federal government that resulted was relativ
Timothy Finucane

A more detailed look at the role slavery played in the creation of the constitution, but a rather quick read. The book breaks down things into three sections: a look at how things exist under the Articles of Confederation and how slavery affects that; a discussion of the great compromises during the constitutional convention; and a look at the peoples response to those compromises during the ratification process.

While the book does a good job covering the major points of the argument that slaver

Roger Neyman
Dec 06, 2013 Roger Neyman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Slavery's Constitution was a bit of work to get through, but in the end worth the effort. It would gain from more textual support for, and explanation of its primary themes. I felt at times like i was reading someone's doctoral thesis thinly reworked in an attempt to make it more popular. As an amateur, I could have benefitted from a fuller explanation of the 'standard' explanations being criticised, and some better development of the significance and the implications of the author's innovations ...more
Christina Maria
While the book made very well founded and interesting points, it was overall lifeless and a bit difficult to read if you aren't very familiar with the subject matter.
RK Byers
slavery was SUCH an issue! America would have done better to have avoided it.
David Sam
Feb 13, 2011 David Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A provocative and well-argued case that slavery was central to nearly every clause of the orginal constitution, making the Civil War (the "Second Revolution") ultimately inevitable.
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