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

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Author: Joseph P. Reidy
Date: Summer 2003
From: The Historian(Vol. 65, Issue 4)
Publisher: Phi Alpha Theta, History Honor Society, Inc.
Document Type: Book review
Length: 545 words

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Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment. By Michael Vorenberg. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Pp. xviii, 305. $29.95.)

This study is a remarkable piece of historical research and writing. Equal parts detective story and finely crafted monograph, the book argues forcefully that "[t]he Thirteenth Amendment was, above all, product of historical contingency," instead of an inevitable supplement to the Emancipation Proclamation (3). The tale begins well before the Civil War.

In their reverence for the Constitution and the men who framed it, most antebellum Americans did not seriously consider amending the national charter to address political and social problems. But as politicians groped for remedies to the sectional crisis, the idea began gaining adherents. During the secession winter of 1860-1861, Congress threw caution to the wind and approved an...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A135425092