Liberty and Union : A Constitutional History of the United States, concise edition book cover
1st Edition

Liberty and Union
A Constitutional History of the United States, concise edition

ISBN 9780415892865
Published January 28, 2014 by Routledge
752 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This, the concise edition of Liberty and Union, is an abridged constitutional history of the United States, designed for short single-semester courses, comprising the key topics from Volumes 1 and 2.

Written in a clear and engaging narrative style, it successfully unites thorough chronological coverage with a thematic approach, offering critical analysis of core constitutional history topics, set in the political, social, and economic context that made them constitutional issues in the first place. Combining a thoughtful and balanced narrative with an authoritative stance on key issues, the authors deliberately explain the past in the light of the past, without imposing upon it the standards of later generations.

Authored by two experienced professors in the field, this concise edition presents seminal topics while retaining the narrative flow of the two full original volumes. An accessible alternative to dense scholarly works, this textbook avoids unnecessary technical jargon, defines legal terms and historical personalities where appropriate, and makes explicit connections between constitutional themes and historical events. For students in a short undergraduate or postgraduate constitutional history course, or anyone with a general interest in constitutional developments, this book will be essential reading.

Useful features include:

  • Full glossary of legal terminology
  • Recommended reading
  • A table of cases
  • Extracts from primary documents
  • Companion website


Useful documents provided:

  • Declaration of Independence
  • Articles of Confederation
  • Constitution of the United States of America
  • Chronological list of Supreme Court justices

Table of Contents

I. English and Colonial Origins
II. Independence and Nationhood
III. A More Perfect Union
IV. Launching the New Government
V. Jeffersonian Republicanism
VI. John Marshall and Judicial Nationalism
VII. Majority Rule and Sectional Rights
VIII. More Power to the States
IX. Slavery and the Constitution
X. The Crisis of the Union
XI. Reconstructing the Nation
XII. Promises Betrayed
XIII. Property Rights and Judicial Activism
XIV. Progressivism and the New Nationalism
XV. World War I and the Constitution
XVI. Normalcy and Reaction
XVII. The New Deal Revolution
XVIII. The New Constitutionalism
XIX. World War II and the Constitution
XX. The Era of the Cold War
XXI. Earl Warren Takes the Helm
XXII. A Decade of Change and Progress
XXIII. The New Judicial Activism
XXIV. Nationalizing Criminal Due Process
XXV. An Era of Discord and Crisis
XXVI. Progress on First Amendment Rights
XXVII. Civil Rights and Affirmative Action
XXVIII. Protecting Individual Liberty
XXIX. Criminal Due Process after Warren
XXX. Civilizing the Death Penalty
XXXI. Politics and the Constitution
XXXII. The New Millennium
XXXIII.The Roberts Court
Recommended Reading      
Table of Cases

View More


Praise for Volume 1:

"Liberty and Union is a superb primer on the English origins of American jurisprudence that highlights the most significant aspects of the constitutional history of the United States. Crisply written with a dash of wit and humor, the authors excel at explaining essential legal concepts and differing historical interpretations with clarity and precision. In this splendid overview and comprehensive analysis, they persuasively make the case for the Constitution’s centrality to American culture, politics, and nationhood."

—Edward P. Crapol, Pullen Professor of American History, Emeritus, College of William and Mary


Praise for Volume 2:

"Although history is often characterized as 'argument without end,' McManus and Helfman’s comprehensive yet accessible conclusion to their two-part constitutional history of the United States may well come to be seen as the definitive study of the topic for generations. Clear, concise, lucid, and compelling, McManus and Helfman not only explain how larger societal trends were influencing the evolution of everyday Americans’ understanding of constitutionalism and our constitutional values, but they also introduce us to the key personalities and critical legal concepts that both enabled and reflected the changes that have come to define the last century of American constitutional history. Anyone from the most amateur student of American history to the most seasoned constitutional lawyer has much to learn from this delightful denouement to Liberty and Union."

—Professor Stephen I. Vladeck, American University Washington College of Law

Reviews of the concise edition:

"In their new concise edition of Liberty and Union, Edgar J. McManus and Tara Helfman have done an admirable job of condensing what is a complicated and nuanced area of history into a 'short' textbook. [I]n many ways, this edition reads as a more fluid version of the previously published two-volume set. One of the strengths of this volume is the accompanying online material, including not only case law but also statutes, speeches, interviews, videos, and so on. ... By the end of Liberty and Union, the reader will have a good understanding of constitutional change and continuity and the ebbs and flows of American constitutional history."

—Gary Gershman (Nova Southeastern University), H-Law

"Liberty and Union is designed for students in short, single-semester courses. But it is also a valuable resource for anyone interested in the origins of the American experiment, its development, and its prospect. And for Americans, in particular, it teaches something transcendently important about our politics, which is that we have (as the authors put it) 'no royal family, state religion, or common ethnicity cementing [our] links with one another. We have only the Constitution and the way of life it guarantees in creating the commonality of nationhood. It is what holds us together and legitimizes our political aspirations.'”

—Terry Eastland, The Weekly Standard


Support Material

Companion Website

Please visit our companion website for additional support materials.