We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

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

Retail Price to Students: $65.95


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 BL The Common Law Enthroned BL Organizing for Settlement BL The Merchant Colonies: Virginia and Massachusetts BL The Compact Colonies BL The Proprietary Colonies BL Growth of Legislative Dominance BL The English Revolutions and the Dominion of New England BL For Further Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Taney Court: Change and Continuity
    The New Chief Justice BL Economics and the Court in the 1830s BL The Court and Codification BL Federal Common Law: Swift v. Tyson BL The Police Power BL Bank of Augusta v. Earle BL The License and Passenger Cases BL Defining State and Federal Powers BL The Wheeling Bridge Case BL The
    The Peculiar Laws of Americas Peculiar Institution
    Slavery in the New Nation BL The African Slave Trade BL The Missouri Compromise BL Black and White Opposition to Slavery: Slave Rebels and New Abolitionists BL Abolitionist Theories and the Constitution BL Abolitionist Use of the Law BL Slaves in Transit BL Antebellum Race Discrimination BL Federal Fugitive Slave Laws BL Prigg v. Pennsylvania BL Law and Conscience BL Southern Slave Codes BL Controlling the Bondsmen BL Slaves and Criminal Law BL Manumission BL Free Blacks BL Conclusion BL For Further Reading

    A House Dividing
    The Gag Rule BL The Amistad Case BL The Lone Star Republic BL Annexing Texas BL Constitutional Questions over Annexation BL Presidential War Powers BL The Wilmot Proviso BL Free Labor and Free Soil BL Calhoun's Southern Ideology BL The Compromise of 1850 BL The Slave Trade in the Nation's Capital, California Statehood, and Slavery in the Territories BL The Fugitive Slave Law BL The Kansas-Nebraska Act BL Obstructing the Fugitive Slave Act BL
    The Union Sundered
    The Election of 1860 BL Secession Winter BL
    The Union Unrestored
    Problems of Military Occupation BL Loyalty Oaths BL Congress Takes a Hand BL Expanding Federal Court Jurisdiction BL Lincoln's 10 Percent Plan BL The Wade-Davis Bill BL Enter Andrew Johnson BL Presidential Reconstruction BL Southern Intransigence BL The Joint Committee on Reconstruction BL Report of the Joint Committee BL The Black Codes BL Southern Racial Violence BL The Freedmen's Bureau Bills of 1866 BL The Civil Rights Act BL The Fourteenth Amendment BL The Congressional Plan BL Conclusion BL For Further Reading

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

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