The Crooked Path to Abolition with James Oakes | BRI Scholar Talks
How were the Civil War and the question of slavery related to differing interpretations of a pro-slavery or anti-slavery Constitution? In this video, two-time Lincoln Prize winner, James Oakes, and BRI Senior Teaching Fellow Tony Williams discuss his new book, “The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution.” Oakes explores what role the Constitution played in abolishing slavery and how the Civil War accelerated this process. Why did Lincoln view the Constitution as an anti-slavery document? In what ways were Lincoln’s opinions different from his contemporaries? In what ways were they similar?
BRI Scholar Talks Video Playlist
Join BRI Senior Teaching Fellow Tony Williams as he sits down with scholars to discuss historical topics throughout U.S. History.
The Founders’ Failure to End Slavery
Students should be familiar with the debates surrounding slavery in the Constitutional Convention in Chapter 3. Students should read the James Madison and the Bill of Rights Narrative and Benjamin Franklin and the First Abolitionist Petitions Narrative for context before reading this Lesson.
Rejecting the Founding: Assessing John C. Calhoun’s “Positive Good” Argument for Slavery
This eLesson was written by Shannon Jones, a member of BRI's Teacher Council. Introduction: In the midst of the 1830s, Congress was not only stymied by the ongoing tariff debate and the sectional division created by this debate, but it also began to see a rise in anti-slavery petitions from abolitionists.
Slavery and the Constitution
Today there are few more controversial topics in the study of American history and government than the issue of slavery and the Constitution. On the surface, the Constitution seemed to protect slavery in the states, prohibited Congress from banning the slave trade for twenty years, and required that fugitive slaves, even in the North, be returned to their masters. Because of these apparent constitutional protections, a bloody Civil War was fought to free the slaves and win ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to end slavery in the U.S. forever. The Constitution, therefore, in the eyes of some scholars, seems to be a contradiction to the universal ideals of liberty and equality in the American Founding and the Declaration of Independence which proclaimed “all men are created equal” and endowed with “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”