Book Talk: The Second Founding with Eric Foner and Kerrel Murray


Past Event

Book Talk: The Second Founding with Eric Foner and Kerrel Murray

March 25, 2024
12:10 PM - 1:10 PM
Columbia Law School, 435 W. 116 St., New York, NY 10027 JGH 105

The Second Founding: How Might Reconstruction Matter in the Law Today?

Please join the Constitutional Democracy Initiative and the Center for Constitutional Governance for a lunchtime discussion on The Second Founding with author Eric Foner, the DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History, and Kerrel Murray, Associate Professor of Law. Moderated by Olatunde Johnson, Ruth Bader Ginsburg '59 Professor of Law. 

The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States.

Eric Foner’s compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre-Civil War mass meetings of African-American “colored citizens” and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late nineteenth century.

Lunch will be provided for registered guests.

Contact Information

Constitutional Democracy Initiative