The American Civil War was the first ever to be fought with railroads moving troops and the telegraph connecting civilian leadership to commanders in the field. New developments arose at a moment’s notice. As a result, the young nation’s political structure and culture often struggled to keep up. When war began, Congress was not even in session. By the time it met, the government had mobilized over 100,000 soldiers, battles had been fought, casualties had been taken, some civilians had violently opposed the war effort, and emancipation was underway.
This set the stage for Congress to play catch-up for much of the conflict. The result was an ongoing race to pass new laws and set policies. Throughout it all, Congress had to answer to a fractured and demanding public.
In Congress and the People’s Contest, Paul Finkelman and Donald R. Kennon have assembled some of the nation’s finest scholars of American history and law to tease apart the fraught interactions between Congress and the American people as they navigated a cataclysmic and unprecedented war. Displaying a variety and range of focus that will make the book a classroom must, the essays here show how these interactions took place—sometimes successfully, and sometimes less so.
Contributors: L. Diane Barnes, Fergus M. Bordewich, Jenny Bourne, Jonathan Earle, Lesley J. Gordon, Mischa Honeck, Chandra Manning, Nikki M. Taylor, and Eric Walther.
Paul Finkelman is the John E. Murray Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh. He is an expert in constitutional history and constitutional law, freedom of religion, the law of slavery, civil liberties and the American Civil War, and legal issues surrounding baseball. He is the author of more than fifty books, and coedits the Ohio University Press series New Approaches to Midwestern Studies.
Donald R. Kennon retired as chief historian and vice president of the United States Capitol Historical Society in 2015. He is coeditor of the Ohio University Press series Perspectives on the History of Congress, 1789–1801 and editor of the series Perspectives on the Art and Architectural History of the United States Capitol.
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