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

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

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
ISBN:9780393652574
Format Type:

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

  • David Eppenstein

    This is a book that will appeal to a narrow field of readers. While it is about the Reconstruction Period it is really about how the events of that era affected our Constitution and how the passage of...

  • Colleen Browne

    Eric Foner is known as "the expert" on Reconstruction. In this book, he expands that reputation to include the Civil War amendments. Thoroughly researched and intelligently written, this short book te...

  • Mehrsa

    This is a great book by a great scholar on how the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment changed the political and cultural idea of the United States. I don't have a critique of the history or the book, but ...

  • 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...

  • Rama

    The constitutional, political, and social issues after American Civil War This is an historical account of the constitutional, political, and social crisis after the Civil War. United States was faced...

  • Joseph

    A good solid overview of the Reconstruction amendments. The author argues that the battles begun in the nineteenth century are still being fought today. And I agree with him. Prejudice and discriminat...

  • Joseph Sciuto

    "The Second Founding," by Eric Foner is many things: Historically relevant, glorious, despairing, sad, and promising. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments are examined and dissected wi...

  • Raymond

    "As history shows, progress is not necessarily linear or permanent. But neither is retrogression." -Eric Foner, The Second FoundingFoner's small book The Second Founding was good but a little dry at t...

  • 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 ...