Book Review: The Sources of Antislavery Constitutionalism in America
10 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2010
Date Written: June 1, 1979
William Wiecek provides a lucid history of the central constitutional arguments concerning slavery and western expansion from 1760 through 1848. This itself is an accomplishment and sufficient reason to recommend his book to all interested in the development of the meaning of the Constitution. The more important theme of the book, however, is that changes in the meaning of the Constitution have occurred outside judicial chambers and congressional cloakrooms. Wiecek argues that from its inception the Constitution "was, and is, whatever the American people are pleased to make it." Indeed, it is "Everyman's Constitution." The new wave of strict textualists, emanating primarily from the four corners of Boston, will not like Wiecek's illustration of the ways the meaning of the Constitution frequently was altered outside the amendment process.
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