Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment

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Overview

"This book examines emancipation after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and during the last years of the American Civil War. Focusing on the making and meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment, Final Freedom looks at the struggle among legal thinkers, politicians, and ordinary Americans in the North and the border states to find a way to abolish slavery that would overcome the inadequacies of the Emancipation Proclamation. The book tells the dramatic story of the creation of a constitutional amendment and reveals an unprecedented transformation in American race relations, politics, and constitutional thought. Using a wide array of archival and published sources, Professor Vorenberg argues that the crucial consideration of emancipation occurred after, not before, the Emancipation Proclamation; that the debate over final freedom was shaped by a level of volatility in society and politics underestimated by prior historians; and that the abolition of slavery by constitutional amendment represented a novel method of reform that transformed attitudes toward the Constitution."--BOOK JACKET.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This innovative, well-written work focuses on the emancipation of American slaves subsequent to the Emancipation Proclamation and leading up to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which constitutionalized the issue of slavery. Although Vorenberg (Brown Univ.) acknowledges the depth and breadth of scholarship addressing the progress of African Americans after the Civil War, he asserts that comparatively scant attention has been paid to the process by which emancipation was legalized. Personalities, famous and not so well known, on both sides of the emancipation issue are heard. The author's impressive research, which includes an extensive exploration of little-mined archival documents as well as quotations from the press and Congressional Record, gives a rich political, legal, and societal context to the crafting, progress, and implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Highly recommended for academic libraries. Kathleen M. Conley, Illinois State Univ., Normal Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A well-researched, gracefully written account of the final emancipation of slaves in the United States, Final Freedom is a must-read for scholars interested in the history of slavery and abolition, African American history, legal and constitutional history, and general U.S. history." The Journal of Southern History

"This study is a remarkable piece of historical research and writing...A short review can barely do justice to the virtues of this outstanding work. Subtly argued and elegantly written, almost every page brims with fresh insights. Besides breathing new life into the constitutional scholarship of the Civil War era, Final Freedom also provides a valuable starting point for future work on the politics of emancipation." The Historian

"Important, long-awaited, and complex..." North Carolina Historical Review

"This is a fine study of the troubled steps to end slavery." American Historical Review

"Professional historians will long appreciate Michael Vorenberg's close description of that era's coming to grips with the necessary constitutional outcome of the nation's most traumatic upheaval." Journal of American Ethnic History

"The strength of Vorenberg's study lies in its detailed analysis of the limitations of wartime emancipation and the debate that ensued over an emancipation amendment." Journal of American History

"Vorenberg's observations about the larger importance of the Thirteenth Amendment serve to enhance appreciation for what should no longer be the overlooked member of the trio of Civil War constitutional amendments." H-Net Reviews

"This innovative, well-written work focuses on the emancipation of American slaves subsequent to the Emancipation Proclamation and leading up to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which constitutionalized the issue of slavery. Although Vorenberg (Brown Univ.) acknowledges the depth and breadth of scholarship addressing the progress of African Americans after the Civil War, he asserts that comparatively scant attention has been paid to the process by which emancipation was legalized. Personalities, famous and not so well known, on both sides of the emancipation issue are heard. The author's impressive research, which includes an extensive exploration of little-mined archival documents as well as quotations from the press and Congressional Record, gives a rich political, legal, and societal context to the crafting, progress, and implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Highly recommended..." Library Journal

"Final Freedom demonstrates that the Thirteenth Amendment was not an automatic sequel to the Emancipation Proclamation or an inevitable means of abolishing slavery. Instead, the Amendment's language, function, and meaning were contested. The story of its enactment and ratification, so well told here, is important and fascinating." James M. McPherson, Princeton University, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

"Vorenberg's compelling research...shows that the motivations of many participants [in the process of ratification] were diverse and complex." Journal of Illinois History

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Michael Vorenberg is Assistant Professor of History at Brown University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 Slavery's Constitution 8
2 Freedom's Constitution 36
3 Facing Freedom 61
4 Debating Freedom 89
5 The Key Note of Freedom 115
6 The War within a War: Emancipation and the Election of 1864 141
7 A King's Cure 176
8 The Contested Legacy of Constitutional Freedom 211
App. Votes on Antislavery Amendment 251
Bibliography 253
Index 297
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