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A March of Liberty

A Constitutional History of the United States, Volume 1: From the Founding to 1900

Third Edition

Melvin Urofsky and Paul Finkelman

Publication Date - March 2011

ISBN: 9780195382730

672 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock


A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States, Third Edition, is a clearly written, comprehensive overview of American constitutional development. Covering the country's history from the founding of the English colonies up through the latest decisions of the Supreme Court, this two-volume work presents the most complete discussion of American constitutional history currently available. Authors Melvin I. Urofsky and Paul Finkelman successfully blend cases and court doctrines into the larger fabric of American political, economic, and social history. They discuss in detail the great cases handed down by the Supreme Court, showing how these cases played out in society and how constitutional growth parallels changes in American culture. In addition, they examine lesser-known decisions that played important roles in affecting change, and also provide in-depth analyses of the intellects and personalities of the Supreme Court justices who made these influential decisions.

Updated with the most recent scholarship, the third edition of A March of Liberty offers more cases on a broader range of issues including the environment, labor, civil rights, and Native American concerns. It now presents new selections on decisions, statutes, and constitutional developments from the first decade of the 21st century--like the USA PATRIOT Act, presidential signing statements, same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, campaign financing, and firearms regulation. The text reflects the current trends in American constitutional history by employing a holistic approach that integrates the decisions of the state and lower federal courts with the decisions of the Supreme Court.
A March of Liberty, Third Edition, features useful supplemental materials including the text of the Constitution, a chronological list of Supreme Court justices, an appendix of the names and years for each Supreme Court justice, and suggested further readings. Gracefully written and clearly explained, this popular two-volume set is indispensable for courses in American constitutional history and law.

New to this Edition

  • Volume one now covers constitutional history up to 1898
  • several new materials now available online to supplement the text
  • new coverage in volume two on Citizens United and Chicago gun law cases


  • clearly written, comprehensive overview of American constitutional development
  • presents the most complete discussion of American constitutional history currently available
  • shows how cases played out in society and how constitutional growth parallels changes in American culture
  • contains in-depth analyses of the intellects and personalities of the Supreme Court justices who made these influential decisions

About the Author(s)

Melvin Urofsky is Emeritus Professor of History and Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the co-author of Documents of American Constitutional and Legal History, Volumes 1 & 2, Second Edition (OUP, 2001).

Paul Finkelman is President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy at Albany Law School. He is the co-author of Documents of American Constitutional and Legal History, Volumes 1 & 2, Second Edition (OUP, 2001), and American Legal History, Third Edition (OUP, 2004).

Previous Publication Date(s)

August 2001
June 1988

Table of Contents

    From the Old World to the New
    Magna Carta and the Rule of Law
  • The Common Law Enthroned
  • Organizing for Settlement
  • The Merchant Colonies: Virginia and Massachusetts
  • The Compact Colonies
  • The Proprietary Colonies
  • Growth of Legislative Dominance
  • The English Revolutions and the Dominion of New England
  • For Further Reading

    Law in Colonial America
    Settler and Indian Views of Land
  • Simplifying Property Law
  • Personal Status: Women
  • Laborers
  • Slaves
  • Religion
  • Criminal Law
  • Lawyers and Practice
  • The Privy Council and Imperial Courts
  • Witchcraft and Press Freedom
  • For Further Reading

    The Road to Independence
    The Mercantile System
  • Colonial Governments
  • Writs of Assistance
  • The Parsons Cause and the Two Penny Act
  • Colonial Constitutional Thought
  • Republican Ideology
  • The British View
  • The Stamp Act and the Colonial Response
  • The Townshend Duties
  • Tea and the Coercive Acts
  • The First Continental Congress
  • Parting of the Ways
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • Slavery
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading

    The Revolutionary Era
    Congress Governs
  • The Articles of Confederation
  • New State Governments
  • Conservatives and Radicals
  • State Constitutions
  • Religious Freedom
  • Slavery
  • Judicial Review and the Success and Failure of State Constitutions in the Revolutionary Era
  • The Common Law Survives
  • Blackstone's Influence
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading

    The Crisis of Confederation
    Defects of the Articles
  • A Government Without Energy
  • Western Land Policy
  • Northwest Ordinance
  • Shays's Rebellion
  • Madison and the Annapolis Convention
  • Toward the Philadelphia Convention
  • For Further Reading

    A More Perfect Union
    The Philadelphia Convention
  • Representation and the Structure of Government
  • Slavery and Representation
  • The Executive Branch
  • The Judicial Branch
  • The Powers of 'the New Government
  • Regulating Commerce
  • Concluding the Convention
  • The Constitution and Federalism
  • Checks and Balances
  • The Debate over Ratification
  • Federalists and Antifederalists
  • Ratification
  • Conclusion: The Constitution and Democracy
  • For Further Reading

    Launching the Great Experiment
    Washington Takes Office
  • The Bill of Rights
  • The Government Takes Shape
  • Raising a Revenue
  • Hamilton's Financial Program
  • The Bank of the United States
  • The Hamilton-Jefferson Debate
  • The Whiskey Rebellion
  • The Slave Trade and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793
  • Defining Presidential Power
  • Presidential Conduct of Foreign Affairs
  • The Neutrality Proclamation
  • Jay's Treaty
  • Conclusion: Washington's Achievements
  • For Further Reading

    The Supreme Court: The First Decade
    The Federal Court of Appeals
  • The Judiciary Act of 1789
  • The Process Act
  • The Jay Court Convenes
  • Separation of Powers
  • Suing States in Federal Courts
  • Chisholm v. Georgia
  • The Eleventh Amendment
  • The Debt Cases
  • Judicial Review
  • The Ellsworth Tenure
  • Circuit Duties
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading

    The Changing Face of the Law
    Changes in the Common haw
  • Criminal haw
  • Property
  • hand and Water Usage
  • Contract
  • Procedure
  • Bench and Bar
  • Legal Literature
  • Lower Federal Courts
  • For Further Reading

    Adams, Jefferson, and the Courts
    The Alien and Sedition Acts
  • The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
  • The Election of 1800
  • The Judiciary Act of 1801
  • John Marshall and the Midnight Judges
  • Jefferson Takes Office
  • Repeal of the Judiciary Act
  • Marbury v. Madison
  • The Louisiana Purchase
  • Republican Attacks on the Judiciary: The First Cases
  • The Impeachment of Justice Chase
  • Defining Treason
  • The Burr Trial
  • Presidential Privilege
  • For Further Reading

    The Marshall Court and National Power
    The Attorney General
  • Changes on the Court
  • The Embargo Cases
  • United States v. Peters
  • The Hartford Convention
  • The Court and Nationalist Sentiment
  • Martin v. Hunter's Lessee
  • Madison's Proposals
  • The Second Bank of the United States in Court
  • Cohens v. Virginia
  • Gibbons v. Ogden, The Steamboat Case
  • Conclusion: The Marshall Court's Legacy
  • For Further Reading

    The Marshall Court and Economic Development
    Law and Economic Development
  • Fletcher v. Peck
  • Public Land Cases
  • The Emergence of the Corporation
  • Defining Corporate Rights
  • The Dartmouth College Case
  • Bankruptcy
  • Conclusion: The Marshall Court's Legacy
  • For Further Reading

    A Law Made for the Times
    Debate over the Law
  • An American System
  • Legal Instrumentalism
  • Changing Views of Land
  • Water Usage
  • Taking of Land
  • Emergence of Tort Law
  • Master and Servant
  • Commercial Law
  • The Corporation
  • Sales
  • Negotiable Instruments
  • Contract
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading

    Politics, Nationalism, and Competition
    The "Era of Good Feeling"
  • Georgia, Jackson, and the Indians
  • Georgia, the Indians, and the Court
  • Calhoun Responds to the Tariff
  • The Webster-Hayne Debate
  • The Nullification Crisis
  • Internal Improvements
  • Jackson Versus the Bank
  • Monopoly and Economic Expansion
  • The Charles River Bridge Case Begins
  • The Last Years of the Marshall Court
  • Chief Justice Taney
  • The Charles River Bridge Case Is Decided
  • Conclusion: The New Departure
  • For Further Reading

    Jacksonian Democracy
    A Sense of Mastery
  • State Constitutional Development
  • Constitutional Flexibility
  • The Political Party and Its Function
  • Family Law
  • Women's Rights
  • Children and the Law
  • Early Labor Movements
  • Debtor Imprisonment
  • Pauper Relief
  • The New Prison
  • Code Revision
  • Race Relations and Antislavery
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading

    The Taney Court: Change and Continuity
    The New Chief Justice
  • Economics and the Court in the 1830s
  • The Court and Codification
  • Federal Common Law: Swift v. Tyson
  • The Police Power
  • Bank of Augusta v. Earle
  • The License and Passenger Cases
  • Defining State and Federal Powers
  • The Wheeling Bridge Case
  • The "Political Question" Doctrine
  • Dorr's Rebellion
  • Luther v. Borden
  • Conclusion: The Taney Court's Balance
  • For Further Reading

    The Peculiar Laws of Americas Peculiar Institution
    Slavery in the New Nation
  • The African Slave Trade
  • The Missouri Compromise
  • Black and White Opposition to Slavery: Slave Rebels and New Abolitionists
  • Abolitionist Theories and the Constitution
  • Abolitionist Use of the Law
  • Slaves in Transit
  • Antebellum Race Discrimination
  • Federal Fugitive Slave Laws
  • Prigg v. Pennsylvania
  • Law and Conscience
  • Southern Slave Codes
  • Controlling the Bondsmen
  • Slaves and Criminal Law
  • Manumission
  • Free Blacks
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading

    A House Dividing
    The Gag Rule
  • The Amistad Case
  • The Lone Star Republic
  • Annexing Texas
  • Constitutional Questions over Annexation
  • Presidential War Powers
  • The Wilmot Proviso
  • Free Labor and Free Soil
  • Calhoun's Southern Ideology
  • The Compromise of 1850
  • The Slave Trade in the Nation's Capital, California Statehood, and Slavery in the Territories
  • The Fugitive Slave Law
  • The Kansas-Nebraska Act
  • Obstructing the Fugitive Slave Act
  • "Bleeding Kansas"
  • The Republican Party
  • Dred Scott's Case
  • The Self-Inflicted Wound
  • The Dred Scott Decision
  • The Aftermath
  • Kansas, Once Again
  • Ableman v. Booth
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading

    The Union Sundered
    The Election of 1860
  • Secession Winter
  • "And the War Came"
  • The Provisional Confederate Constitution
  • The Permanent Confederate Constitution
  • Defects in the Confederate Scheme
  • The Political Party as a War Tool
  • Lincoln Takes Control
  • Ex Parte Merryman
  • Judicial Reorganization in Wartime
  • The Adequacy of the Constitution
  • War Powers and the Rebellion
  • Defining Rebel Status
  • The Growth of National Power
  • The Emancipation Proclamation
  • The Thirteenth Amendment
  • For Further Reading

    The Union Unrestored
    Problems of Military Occupation
  • Loyalty Oaths
  • Congress Takes a Hand
  • Expanding Federal Court Jurisdiction
  • Lincoln's 10 Percent Plan
  • The Wade-Davis Bill
  • Enter Andrew Johnson
  • Presidential Reconstruction
  • Southern Intransigence
  • The Joint Committee on Reconstruction
  • Report of the Joint Committee
  • The Black Codes
  • Southern Racial Violence
  • The Freedmen's Bureau Bills of 1866
  • The Civil Rights Act
  • The Fourteenth Amendment
  • The Congressional Plan
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading

    Governmental Deadlock
  • The Military Reconstruction Acts
  • The New State Governments
  • Southern Resistance
  • Restricting the Executive
  • Impeachment
  • The Senate Trial
  • The Meaning of Acquittal
  • Reconstruction in the Courts
  • Ex Parte Milligan
  • Testing Congressional Reconstruction Powers
  • McCardle and Yerger
  • Texas v. White
  • Changing the Size of the Court
  • The Legal Tender Cases
  • The End of Reconstruction
  • The Election of 1876
  • Conclusion: The Legacy of Reconstruction
  • For Further Reading

    The Court and Civil Rights
    The Abandonment of the Freedmen
  • The Slaughterhouse Cases
  • The Civil Rights Cases
  • Jim Crow Enthroned
  • The Treatment of Native Americans
  • The Chinese Cases
  • The Insular Cases
  • The Incorporation Theory
  • Women and the Law
  • The Court Draws Limits
  • The Peonage Cases
  • A Few Small Steps
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading

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