The reforms stirred fierce debates over the political and constitutional value of black suffrage, the legitimacy of racial equality, and the proper sharing of power between the state and federal governments. Unlike most studies of Reconstruction, this book follows these issues into the early twentieth century to examine the impact of the constitutional principles and the rise of Jim Crow. Tying constitutional history to party politics, The Trial of Democracy is a vital contribution to both fields.
Though the end of the Civil War and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation inspired optimism for a new, happier reality for blacks, in truth the battle for equal rights was just beginning. Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's successor, argued that the federal government could not abolish slavery. In Johnson's America, there would be no black voting, no civil rights for blacks.
When a handful of men and women rose to challenge Johnson, the stage was set for a bruising constitutional battle. Garrett Epps, a novelist and constitutional scholar, takes the reader inside the halls of the Thirty-ninth Congress to witness the dramatic story of the Fourteenth Amendment's creation. At the book's center are a cast of characters every bit as fascinating as the Founding Fathers. Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, among others, understood that only with the votes of freed blacks could the American Republic be saved.
Democracy Reborn offers an engrossing account of a definitive turning point in our nation's history and the significant legislation that reclaimed the democratic ideal of equal rights for all U.S. citizens.