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Making Legal HistoryEssays in Honor of William E. Nelson$
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Daniel J. Hulsebosch and R. B. Bernstein

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814725269

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814725269.001.0001

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Debating the Fourteenth Amendment

Debating the Fourteenth Amendment

The Promise and Perils of Using Congressional Sources

(p.75) 3 Debating the Fourteenth Amendment
Making Legal History

Daniel W. Hamilton

NYU Press

This chapter examines the historically and constitutionally crucial question of the congressional understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment. Using William E. Nelson's book The Fourteenth Amendment as a starting point, it focuses on the use of congressional sources in writing the constitutional history of the Fourteenth Amendment, on their limits and their possibilities; more generally, it considers the evidence historians work with and the relationship between their sources and their interpretations. The central question, which is highlighted in Nelson's book and remains with us, is how we can best use these congressional sources to do constitutional history rather than contemporary constitutional law.

Keywords:   Fourteenth Amendment, William E. Nelson, congressional debate, legal history, constitutional history

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