MixedThe Washington PostWhile Feldman’s book...has many valuable insights, its argument downplays some crucial context. Feldman indicts Lincoln for his wartime suspension of civil liberties but has little to say about the abuses of power that provoked the constitutional crisis: Southern enslavers’ prolonged suppression of free speech or their radical defiance of Lincoln’s lawful election ... Feldman deftly contrasts President James Buchanan’s position that the federal government was powerless to make war on the states with Lincoln’s conviction that the president had the constitutional duty to suppress a rebellion ... In places The Broken Constitution reads like an arraignment of Lincoln, accusing him of illogical, incoherent, paranoid thinking and of \'subverting\' the Constitution ... Feldman’s thought-provoking case for a stark rupture in Union war aims will surely occasion lively debate. But his astute argument would have been better served by a less-polemical tone.
PositiveThe Washington Post... illuminating and accessible ... Much insight is to be gained by contrasting the antislavery constitutionalism of Douglass and Lincoln with the proslavery constitutionalism of Southern enslavers: Doing so brings into sharp focus the anti-racist qualities of Lincoln’s leadership ... Acknowledging the persistent fault lines in the North, even among slavery’s opponents, is a key to understanding why fundamental rights remained so elusive for Black Americans.
Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
RaveThe Washington PostDrawing on accounts such as White’s, the historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers provides the first extensive study of the role of Southern white women in the plantation economy and slave-market system ... At every turn in her analysis, Jones-Rogers takes care to illuminate how we know what we know. Her central sources are firsthand accounts by enslaved persons ... Jones-Rogers argues persuasively that white Southern women were active as hirers and buyers and sellers of slaves, and that plantation households were extensions of the market. Again, she is able to cross-reference firsthand accounts by former slaves with other sorts of sources, such as slave traders’ account books and bills of sale ... In holding slave-owning women to account, Jones-Rogers has provided a brilliant, innovative analysis of American slavery, one that sets a new standard for scholarship on the subject.