Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation

Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War

By Mark E. Neely Jr.

416 pp., 6 x 9, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2184-5
    Published: February 2015
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6902-4
    Published: November 2011
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7018-6
    Published: November 2011

Littlefield History of the Civil War Era

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Awards & distinctions

2013 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

The Civil War placed the U.S. Constitution under unprecedented--and, to this day, still unmatched--strain. In Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Mark Neely examines for the first time in one book the U.S. Constitution and its often overlooked cousin, the Confederate Constitution, and the ways the documents shaped the struggle for national survival.

Previous scholars have examined wartime challenges to civil liberties and questions of presidential power, but Neely argues that the constitutional conflict extended to the largest questions of national existence. Drawing on judicial opinions, presidential state papers, and political pamphlets spiced with the everyday immediacy of the partisan press, Neely reveals how judges, lawyers, editors, politicians, and government officials, both North and South, used their constitutions to fight the war and save, or create, their nation.

Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation illuminates how the U.S. Constitution not only survived its greatest test but emerged stronger after the war. That this happened at a time when the nation's very existence was threatened, Neely argues, speaks ultimately to the wisdom of the Union leadership, notably President Lincoln and his vision of the American nation.

About the Author

Mark E. Neely Jr. is McCabe-Greer Professor of Civil War History Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University. He has written several books, including The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History.
For more information about Mark E. Neely Jr., visit the Author Page.


"This is an important work of constitutional history that ranks among the very best of the genre. Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above."--Choice

"This work is alive with character and narrative."--Publishers Weekly

"A meticulous study of Civil War-era constitutionalism, a complex and multifaceted book that will reward multiple readings to understand fully its meaning and implications. . . . Constitutional and political history at its finest."--Journal of American History

“Neely’s contributions to scholarship in this area are remarkable. . . . His writing style is both scholarly and engaging.”--Cercles

“Noteworthy for originality of argument, breadth of subject matter, and felicity of prose . . . it will undoubtedly stimulate further inquiry into the constitutional history of the Civil War and other American wars.”--The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“An important book. . . . Neely’s account of constitutional matters in the Confederate States is his most important contribution to our knowledge of the Civil War.”--North Carolina Historical Review