The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
My good friend Kurt Lash has published The Reconstruction Amendments: The Essential Documents, Volumes 1 and 2. Kurt has put together all of the relevant documents to understand the ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Truly, his effort is remarkable. Here is the blurb:
Ratified in the years immediately following the American Civil War, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution—together known as the Reconstruction Amendments—abolished slavery, safeguarded a set of basic national liberties, and expanded the right to vote, respectively. This two-volume work presents the key speeches, debates, and public dialogues that surrounded the adoption of the three amendments, allowing us to more fully experience how they reshaped the nature of American life and freedom.
Volume I outlines a broad historical context for the Reconstruction Amendments and contains materials related to the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, while Volume 2 covers the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments on the rights of citizenship and enfranchisement. The documents in this collection encompass a sweeping range of primary sources, from congressional debates to court cases, public speeches to newspaper articles. As a whole, the volumes meticulously depict a significant period of legal change even as they illuminate the ways in which people across the land grappled with the process of constitutional reconstruction. Filling a major gap in the literature on the era, The Reconstruction Amendments will be indispensable for readers in politics, history, and law, as well as anyone seeking a better understanding of the post–Civil War basis of American constitutional democracy.
This seminal work should reside on every (virtual) bookshelf. The book is not cheap, but is well worth the cost. I have already used a pre-publication copy in some of my research. We all owe Kurt a huge debt.