Final Freedom

The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment


This book examines emancipation after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Focusing on the making and meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment, Final Freedom looks at the struggle among legal thinkers, politicians, and ordinary Americans in the North and the border states to find a way to abolish slavery that would overcome the inadequacies of the Emancipation Proclamation. The book tells the dramatic story of the creation of a constitutional amendment and reveals an unprecedented transformation in American race relations, politics, and constitutional thought. Using a wide array of archival and published sources, Professor Vorenberg argues that the crucial consideration of emancipation occurred after, not before, the Emancipation Proclamation; that the debate over final freedom was shaped by a level of volatility in party politics underestimated by prior historians; and that the abolition of slavery by constitutional amendment represented a novel method of reform that transformed attitudes toward the Constitution.
  • Cambridge University Press; May 2001
  • ISBN 9780511033063
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Final Freedom
  • Author: Michael Vorenberg
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

'Vorenberg's careful study illuminates the complex political and military process that ended lingering uncertainty over the legality of black freedom … Final Freedom is the definitive account of the making of an important, yet oddly neglected, constitutional amendment and deserves the widest possible readership.' The Times Literary Supplement