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Book Review by David Blight | New York Times

Book Review by David Blight | New York Times

In “Reconstruction,” an essay published in 1866, Frederick Douglass argued that even as radical Republicans (former abolitionists and their supporters) gained control over America’s constitutional revolution, this might not matter “while there remains such an idea as the right of each state to control its own local affairs,” a notion “more deeply rooted in the minds of men … than perhaps any one other political idea.” What had to be done, Douglass said, was to “render the rights of the states compatible with the sacred rights of human nature.” As “Unexampled Courage,” Richard Gergel’s remarkable book about the early legal stages of the civil rights movement, makes clear, Douglass’s thrilling goal of natural rights and federal power combining to overwhelm states’ rights remained for nearly a century an unrealized dream. Perhaps it still is.

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Disunion: The Final Q & A (The Opinion Pages, Opinionator, New York Times, June 10, 2015)

In April 2011, the editors of Disunion, The New York Times’s series on the Civil War, convened a panel of historians to mark the 150th anniversary of the Confederate assault on Fort Sumter and the onset of the four-year conflict. Before a sold-out audience at the Times Center in New York City, the panelists – David Blight, Ken Burns, Adam Goodheart and Jamie Malanowski – discussed the origins of the conflict, the role of slavery and the immense challenges facing a still-new president.

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