March 6: Slavery, Union, and the Constitutional Order, II

taney.jpg (50615 bytes) Roger Taney, Chief Justice (1836-1864)

Tonight's class will be the first of two on the constitutional causes and effects of the Civil War. Focus for Tuesday's reading on the events of the period--can you imagine ways in which the constitutional crisis that was the Civil War could have been avoided?



Kyvig, Explicit and Authentic Acts, pp. 134-153
Fehrebecker, Dred Scott FIRST ARTICLE, 2d sourcebook
Two different types of reading for class today. The Fehrebecker book, although weakened some by the robust debates currently occurring among historians of the 1850s, remains the best survey of the period. And we return to Kyvig to explore the amendment angle, an option seriously considered (see Crittenden Compromise, below) as a way to avoid the Civil War.


Dred Scott decision (1857)
Crittenden compromise (1860)
South Carolina: statement of secession (1860)


1.) Could the Civil War have been avoided within the constitutional system?
2.) If they had been adopted, what would have been the most important change to the structure of American government brought about by the Crittenden amendments?
3.) Was the Supreme Court of the late 1850s totally politicized, or do you still view it as primarily a legal body?

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