Lincoln's choices and evolution didn't just transform the meaning of the Civil War—they transformed the Consitution itself.
This is The Broken Constitution, a miniseries from Unknown History from Quick and Dirty Tips and Deep Background from Pushkin Industries. I'm Noah Feldman. Over three episodes, I'm talking about Abraham Lincoln and how he needed to break the Constitution in order to remake it. It's all based on my new book, The Broken Constitution: Lincoln, Slavery, and the Refounding of America, out now.
In the first episode of The Broken Constitution, I talked about how the U.S. Constitution was a compromise between northern and southern states, small and large states, and made several key compromises around slavery and the slave trade.
In the second episode, we looked at what happened when Abraham Lincoln became president, and to the moment in which he was forced to break the Consitution in order to begin to think about how to save it.
In this, the third and final installment of the miniseries, I turn to the most memorable, significant, and consequential breaking of the Constitution that Abraham Lincoln achieved, the one that transformed not only the meaning of the Civil War but also transformed the Constitution itself. To do this, we must discuss a fact that history has suppressed: when he began his presidency, Lincoln was committed to the compromise Constitution, and as part of that, the institution of slavery. Today, we track how his thinking changed, and how that led to the Reconstruction Amendments.
Click the red audio player above to listen. Be sure to follow Unknown History on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts for more fascinating history, and if you want to hear more from me, check out my podcast Deep Background from Pushkin Industries. On Deep Background, I bring together a cross-section of guests to explore the historical, scientific, legal, and cultural context of today's news.
Want even more? Order The Broken Constitution wherever books or audiobooks are sold.
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