McConnell Center fellow edits second volume on Civil War history

April 3, 2013 - Thomas Mackey, PhD, a University of Louisville history professor, is the editor of "A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era, Volume 2."
McConnell Center fellow edits second volume on Civil War history

Thomas Mackey, PhD

The second of three volumes, Political Arguments (University of Tennessee Press, 2013) is part of a collection of public policy actions, political speeches and judicial decisions related to the American Civil War. Legislative Achievements (Volume 1) was published in 2012, and Judicial Decisions (volume 3) is forthcoming.

Political Arguments is divided into two sections and presents the words of politicians, political party platforms, and administrative speeches. The first section, Voices of the Politicians and Political Parties, comprises the platforms of major (and some minor) parties from 1856 to 1876. Also included are such pieces as Robert E. Lee’s letter of resignation from the U.S. Army, key speeches by the rising politician from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, and a letter on the “American Question” written by a European observer, Karl Marx. Other items include examples of the 1860–1861 state ordinances of secession and addresses on emancipation and Reconstruction by Jefferson Davis and by the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Thaddeus Stevens.

Section two, Voices of the Administrations, contains records from the presidencies of James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Rutherford B. Hayes, as well as a message from Confederate President Jefferson Davis telling his congress that the Southern cause was “just and holy.” Classic documents such as Lincoln’s announcement of forthcoming emancipation and the Emancipation Proclamation are here, as are lesser-known but important documents such as Francis Lieber’s 1863 revised law code for war, General Order 100, and Attorney General James Speed’s 1865 opinion supporting the Johnson administration’s decision to try the Lincoln murder conspirators by special military commission and not in the civilian courts.

Each section is preceded by Mackey’s introductory headnotes that explain the document’s historical significance and trace its lasting impact.

Mackey is a fellow at McConnell Center, history professor at the University of Louisville and adjunct professor at the Brandeis School of Law. He is the author of Pornography on Trial (2002) and Pursuing Johns (2005).