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Democracy Reborn

The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America

Garrett Epps

Holt Paperbacks

"Engaging . . . With a novelist's eye for biographical detail, Epps has written an . . . enthralling book."--David W. Blight, Chicago Tribune The last battle of the Civil War wasn't fought at Appomattox by dashing generals or young soldiers but by middle-aged men in frock coats. Yet it was war all the same--a desperate struggle for the soul and future of the new American Republic that was rising from the ashes of Civil War.  It was the battle that planted the seeds of democracy, under the bland heading "Amendment XIV." Scholars call it the "Second Constitution." Over time, the Fourteenth Amendment--which at last provided African Americans with full citizenship and prohibited any state from denying any citizen due process and equal protection under the law--changed almost every detail of our public life.
Democracy Reborn tells the story of this desperate struggle, from the halls of Congress to the bloody streets of Memphis and New Orleans. Both a novelist and a constitutional scholar, Garrett Epps unfolds a powerful story against a panoramic portrait of America on the verge of a new era.

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Prologue 
Philadelphia 1787: Red Sky at Morning
 
From his vantage point in Paris, Thomas Jefferson had hailed the makeup of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in characteristic hyperbole. "It really is an assembly of demi-gods," he wrote to John Adams.
 
            Perhaps. But by August 1787, the demigods were feeling tired and distinctly mortal. Since May 25, they had spent day after day in the small assembly room of the Pennsylvania statehouse, dressed in wool and broadcloth finery amid the humid swelter
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REVIEWS

Praise for Democracy Reborn

"The Civil War amendments redeemed the Constitution from the slavery concessions that had betrayed its preamble and perpetuated human bondage both North and South. Garrett Epps' new book is indispensable reading for Americans to know how our constitutional history has affected us all. A combination of the finest scholarship with unsurpassed insight."--William Van Alstyne, Perkins Professor of Law emeritus, Duke University; Lee Professor of Constitutional Law, College of William and Mary
 
"Garret Epps is one of our best legal historians, and he has produced a fascinating book on the creation and impact of the 14th Amendment. The people who wrote our Constitution were America's original Founders, but the amazing group that produced the 14th Amendment were like our second wave of Founders, helping our nation be reborn into the democracy it is today."--Walter Isaacson, author, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
 
"It is best to be blunt.  This is a thrilling book.  Garrett Epps has woven together the tragic strands of America's effort to deal with the issue of race in the Constitution.  Law, politics and statecraft clash in a great drama."--Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon's Trumpet
 
"Garrett Epps is one of the most fluid and accessible writers in the legal academy.  Not surprisingly, he has written a marvelous overview of immediate post-Civil War politics that gave us the Fourteenth Amendment and, as importantly, a new understanding of the American experiment."--Sanford Levinson, University of Texas Law School, author of Our Undemocratic Constitution:  How the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Garrett Epps

  • Garrett Epps is the author of The Shad Treatment and The Floating Island: A Tale of Washington. He is Orlando John and Marian H. Hollis Professor at the University of Oregon School of Law where he teaches constitutional law and a special course in creative writing for law students. Epps writes fiction and poetry as well as nonfiction, and has translated or adapted literature into English from both Spanish and Italian. He has two children, Daniel and Maggie.
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    Democracy Reborn

    The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America

    Garrett Epps

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