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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  78 ratings  ·  21 reviews
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
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by W. W. Norton Company
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 ·  78 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Ryan Boissonneault
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of calculating state representation in Congress, while Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1 prohibited Congress from passing laws banning slavery until 1808. Additionally, Article 4, Section 2 states, in essence, that escaped slaves must be returned to their owners ...more
Donald Powell
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 regarding the Reconstruction/Redemption era of the United States. This book is partially a review of his more comprehensive tome regarding these events; however, he does a detailed analysis of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the constitution in this small book. He explains the events, players, politic ...more
Kurt Ronn
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 that strict constitutionalism is a bullshit excuse for not supporting equal rights. Tell them to read The Second Founding and then find someone else to talk to at the cocktail party.

Recognize, today, all states have laws based on state precedent that unfairly and unevenly limit rights, and federal laws
Aletha Pagett
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 today's volatile society.
Adam Shields
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. I have yet to read his biography of Lincoln or his book on the Underground Railroad, but those are both on my list to get to eventually.

The Second Founding is mainly looking at the history around the Reconstruction Constitutional Amendments, the 13th, 14th, and 15th. The Second Founding, in some w
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
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 (as it has done to many other readers over the years).

To say that Foner is the dean of Civil War and Reconstruction studies in this country doesn't begin to do it justice. It says a lot about Foner that he's still producing ground-breaking scholarship on a subject that he's already writt
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 other hand, outside of the first eight amendments in the Bill of Rights, is arguably THE Amendment to the Constitution today. And, it's very convoluted within its first section, let alone others that have almost zero legal applicability today. Foner discusses why it's that convoluted, with
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 and Reconstruction. He ably narrates the political and social construction of the Reconstruction amendments and their subsequent castration by vile systemic racism and a cowardly Supreme Court. Foner also makes plain the direct relevance these amendments and their moment have to the present day.
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
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-laden kowtowing to the powers that be--it's antithetical to very nature of historical research

eric foner?? more like eric BONER!! retire bitch!!!!!!

it's remarkable to sit in a room with 6-8 full-time academic historians and listen to them decry foner as "painting
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-book, read-2019
Amazing; enlightening; distressing. Well worth a second read. Having come of age in what I believed to be a fundamentally stable democracy. I thought I knew what it meant to be a United States citizen; I believed that the bad things that happened to black folks after abolition came about from intransigence in southern states. The three constitutional amendments passed after the civil war were meant to codify how former slaves should be treated. The decades that followed showed how those amendmen ...more
Daniel A Littman
Another excellent book from Eric Foner.
Well written, good narrative pacing, strong history. In many ways it is a sad, depressing story, of what might have beens in the era after the Civil War, about how the Civil War & half-hearted Reconstruction did little to affect racist (& sexist) beliefs among the dominant white males, those in the highest levels of power & those on the ground fighting hard to continue their dominance. In the south and in the north. Foner is able to show t
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brief overview of the effect that the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments have had on American jurisprudence since the Civil War and Reconstruction ended. The author tells of the struggles African Americans have faced (and continue to face) in their quest for full and equal citizenship before the law. I had read one of the author's previous books about Reconstruction, but found this book much more reader-friendly. Overall, a good quick one volume study of parts of the Constitution often overlooked ...more
John Munro
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting account of the events surrounding the adoption of the Reconstruction amendments to the constitution. The author describes how they established the locus of rights guarantees in the federal government, and how Reconstruction ebbed as the South resisted the idea that former slaves had the same rights as white men. A curious element of the book is the Appendix, which covers much of the same ground as the main text. All in all, an excellent read.
Gloria Zak
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
First, thank you to the author for allowing me to read the book through the Goodreads giveaway program.

The book was well written, thoroughly researched with tremendous detail. However, reading it was nice like reading a text book, so it takes fortitude and time to complete the read.
Shamus Ewer
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
easy read except for chapters covering supreme court decisions. overall very interesting study of reconstruction period.
Henry Johnson
Sep 05, 2019 marked it as to-read
Yes, it's a really interesting thing to know this second founding. we have some new press release blog. I will share you here:
Vincent Lombardo
Excellent short account of how the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were passed and their effect.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A short but deeply affecting read on how the ambitions and aims of the Reconstruction and its Amendments were betrayed by courts and Presidents alike. Infuriating.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A compelling interpretation of constitutional history. Explains how thirteenth and fifteenth amendment interpretation by the SC went wrong and plagues us to the present day.
Ricky Carrigan
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great in-depth study on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. No historian is better on the Civil War and Reconstruction, I highly recommend this book.
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Eric Foner is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, where he earned his B.A. and Ph.D. In his teaching and scholarship, Foner focuses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and nineteenth-century America. His Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877, won the Bancroft, Parkman, and Los Angeles Times Book prizes and remains the standard history of the period. His lat ...more