A New Birth of Freedom: The Republican Party and the Freedmen's Rights (Reconstructing America)

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9780823220113: A New Birth of Freedom: The Republican Party and the Freedmen's Rights (Reconstructing America)

A New Birth of Freedom: The Republican Party and Freedmen’s Rights, 1861–1866, is an account of how laws, policies and constitutional amendments defining and protecting the personal liberty and civil rights of the country’s African American population were adopted during the Civil War. A study in legal and constitutional history, it complements and forms a necessary predicate to the social history of emancipation that is the principal focus of contemporary Civil War scholarship. The relevance of the legal dimension in the struggle for black freedom is attested by the observation that many slaves "learned the letter of the law so they could seemingly recite from memory" passages from congressional measures prohibiting the return of escaped slaves to disloyal owners and guaranteeing their personal liberty.

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About the Author:

Herman Belz is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Maryland. He is the author of some fifty-six articles or chapters in books and nineteen essays, and he has served as consultant to the American Historical Association’s Constitutional History in the Schools Project, National Endowment for the Humanities, Educational Testing Service, National Video Communications, Vision Associates, and the Carter Museum and Library. Professor Belz has won grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the American Bar Foundation for Legal History, among others. His first book was awarded the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association. He has served on numerous University of Maryland committees, was Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History, and was a member of the Campus Senate Executive Committee and a member of the Graduate Council. Professor Belz was a Visiting Research Scholar in the James Madison Program at Princeton University in the academic year 2001–2002 and was appointed to the National Council on the Humanities in 2005.

Review:

This is a very interesting and useful study. (―The American Journal of Legal History)

This is the best, if not definitive study of this . . . topic. (―East Texas Historical Association)

Belz has drawn together a vast amount of research to offer a scholarly yet readable account of the Republican’s party drive to fashion a ‘civil rights policy that rested on settled constitutional principles and was intended to guarantee American citizenship and equality before the law to the freed slave population. . . . [T]he reader is presented a clear, well-thought-out account of the republican party’s commitment to a civil rights scheme based on full equality for blacks in the aftermath of Appomattox. (―Library Journal)

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