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In 1936, Lloyd Gaines’s application to the University of Missouri law school was denied based on his race. Gaines and the NAACP challenged the university’s decision. Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938) was the first in a long line of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race, higher education, and equal opportunity. The court case drew national headlines, and the NAACP moved Gaines to Chicago after he received death threats. Before he could attend law school, he vanished. This is the first book to focus entirely on the Gaines case and the vital role played by the NAACP and its lawyers—including Charles Houston, known as “the man who killed Jim Crow”— who advanced a concerted strategy to produce political change. Horner and Endersby also discuss the African American newspaper journalists and editors who mobilized popular support for the NAACP’s strategy. This book uncovers an important step toward the broad acceptance of the principle that racial segregation is inherently unequal. This is the inaugural volume in the series Studies in Constitutional Democracy, sponsored by the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy.
The rise of the administrative state is the most significant political development in American politics over the past century. While our Constitution separates powers into three branches, and requires that the laws are made by elected representatives in the Congress, today most policies are made by unelected officials in agencies where legislative, executive, and judicial powers are combined. This threatens constitutionalism and the rule of law. This book examines the history of administrative power in America and argues that modern administrative law has failed to protect the principles of American constitutionalism as effectively as earlier approaches to regulation and administration.
The Panic of 1819 tells the story of the first nationwide economic collapse to strike the United States. Much more than a banking crisis or real estate bubble, the Panic was the culmination of an economic wave that rolled through the United States, forming before the War of 1812, cresting with the land and cotton boom of 1818, and crashing just as the nation confronted the crisis over slavery in Missouri. The Panic introduced Americans to the new phenomenon of boom and bust, changed the country's attitudes towards wealth and poverty, spurred the political movement that became Jacksonian Democracy, and helped create the sectional divide that would lead to the Civil War. Although it stands as one of the turning points of American history, few Americans today have heard of the Panic of 1819, yet we continue to ignore its lessons—and repeat its mistakes.
The idea that the three branches of U.S. government are equal in power is taught in classrooms, proclaimed by politicians, and referenced in the media. But, as David Siemers shows, that idea is a myth, neither intended by the Founders nor true in practice. Siemers explains how adherence to this myth normalizes a politics of gridlock, in which the action of any branch can be checked by the reaction of any other. The Founders, however, envisioned a separation of functions rather than a separation of powers. Siemers argues that this view needs to replace our current view, so that the goals set out in the Constitution’s Preamble may be better achieved.
On December 4, 1865, members of the 39th United States Congress walked into the Capitol Building to begin their first session after the end of the Civil War. They understood their responsibility to put the nation back on the path established by the American Founding Fathers. The moment when the Republicans in the Reconstruction Congress remade the nation and renewed the law is in a class of rare events. The Civil War should be seen in this light. In From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction, Forrest A. Nabors shows that the ultimate goal of the Republican Party, the war, and Reconstruction was the same. This goal was to preserve and advance republicanism as the American founders understood it, against its natural, existential enemy: oligarchy. The principle of natural equality justified American republicanism and required abolition and equal citizenship. Likewise, slavery and discrimination on the basis of color stand on the competing moral foundation of oligarchy, the principle of natural inequality, which requires ranks. The effect of slavery and the division of the nation into two “opposite systems of civilization” are causally linked. Charles Devens, a lawyer who served as a general in the Union Army, and his contemporaries understood that slavery’s existence transformed the character of political society. One of those dramatic effects was the increased power of slaveowners over those who did not have slaves. When the slave state constitutions enumerated slaves in apportioning representation using the federal three-fifths ratio or by other formulae, intra-state sections where slaves were concentrated would receive a substantial grant of political power for slave ownership. In contrast, low slave-owning sections of the state would lose political representation and political influence over the state. This contributed to the non-slaveholders’ loss of political liberty in the slave states and provided a direct means by which the slaveholders acquired and maintained their rule over non-slaveholders. This book presents a shared analysis of the slave South, synthesized from the writings and speeches of the Republicans who served in the Thirty-Eighth, Thirty-Ninth or Fortieth Congress from 1863-1869. The account draws from their writings and speeches dated before, during, and after their service in Congress. Nabors shows how the Republican majority, charged with the responsibility of reconstructing the South, understood the South. Republicans in Congress were generally united around the fundamental problem and goal of Reconstruction. They regarded their work in the same way as they regarded the work of the American founders. Both they and the founders were engaged in regime change, from monarchy in the one case, and from oligarchy in the other, to republicanism. The insurrectionary states’ governments had to be reconstructed at their foundations, from oligarchic to republican. The sharp differences within Congress pertained to how to achieve that higher goal.

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