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

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Author: Ward M. McAfee
Date: Spring 2002
From: Journal of American Ethnic History(Vol. 21, Issue 3)
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Document Type: Book review
Length: 668 words
Lexile Measure: 1470L

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Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment. By Michael Vorenberg. Cambridge: At the University Press, 2001. xv + 305 pp. Illustrations, appendix, bibliography and index. $29.95.

Vorenberg's Final Freedom begins by reviewing the constitutional ideologies of two abolitionist factions. The book emphasizes that one assumed the Constitution to be a proslavery compact, while the other assumed the exact opposite--i.e., that the fundamental law was antislavery in its original intent. Neither of these groups looked toward amending the document. One called for abandoning it altogether, as the Constitution represented a "covenant with death"; the other sought to give it a new popular interpretation that would lead eventually to universal emancipation.

By the 1850s, the new Republican party chose a moderately antislavery option that called for recognizing slavery in the states where it existed while undermining its long-term existence by banning its spread into the federal territories. On the eve of the Civil War, the author emphasizes, the overwhelming majority of Americans regarded...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A403785940