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Constitutionalism in the Approach and Aftermath of the Civil War$
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Paul D. Moreno and Jonathan O'Neill

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251940

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251940.001.0001

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Prologue: A Second American Revolution?

Prologue: A Second American Revolution?

George Washington and the Origins of the Civil War

(p.9) Prologue: A Second American Revolution?
Constitutionalism in the Approach and Aftermath of the Civil War

Jeffry H. Morrison

Fordham University Press

Both sides in the American Civil War conscripted the memory of George Washington to serve their cause. In fact, Washington dealt with several vexing issues that anticipated those that led to the War, including nullification of federal laws, secession, and especially slavery. Abraham Lincoln invoked Washington as a foundational “rock” upon which the Republic was founded; the Confederate States of America appropriated his image on their great seal in 1862. In the last years of his life, Washington rejected Thomas Jefferson's gesture toward nullification in his Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, and James Madison's doctrine of state “interposition” in his Virginia Resolutions. Washington instead consistently backed a stronger, permanent union throughout his half-century public career, and moved increasingly in an anti-slavery direction. Indications are that he would have sided with the Union in 1861.

Keywords:   George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, union, nullification, slavery, secession, Civil War

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