Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy

Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy

by George P. Fletcher
     
 

Americans hate and distrust their government. At the same time, Americans love and trust their government. These contradictory attitudes are resolved by Fletcher's novel interpretation of constitutional history. He argues that we have two constitutions—still living side by side—one that caters to freedom and fear, the other that satisfied our needs for

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Overview

Americans hate and distrust their government. At the same time, Americans love and trust their government. These contradictory attitudes are resolved by Fletcher's novel interpretation of constitutional history. He argues that we have two constitutions—still living side by side—one that caters to freedom and fear, the other that satisfied our needs for security and social justice.
The first constitution came into force in 1789. It stresses freedom, voluntary association, and republican elitism. The second constitution begins with the Gettysburg Address and emphasizes equality, organic nationhood, and popular democracy. These radical differences between our two constitutions explain our ambivalence and self-contradictory attitudes toward government.
With September 11 the second constitution—which Fletcher calls the Secret Constitution—has become ascendant. When America is under threat, the nation cultivates its solidarity. It overcomes its fear and looks to government for protection and the pursuit of social justice. Lincoln's messages of a strong government and a nation that must "long endure" have never been more relevant to American politics.
"Fletcher's argument has intriguing implications beyond the sweeping subject of this profoundly thought-provoking book."—The Denver Post

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195156287
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
01/16/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: The Argument for the Secret Constitution1
1Redemption Under Law15
2Radical Gettysburg35
3Nationhood57
4Loyalty and Betrayal75
5Equality91
6The Revolution That Never Was113
7Equality Without Vision141
8A Maxim of Justice: Its Birth and Rebirth165
9The Secret Constitution Resurgent189
10Government as Partner Against the Past211
11Neither Blue Nor Gray225
Afterword: Election Blues 2000231
Notes261
Index285

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