Liberty and Union


This is the companion website for Liberty and Union: A Constitutional History of the United States,Volume 1.

On this site you will find links to the following types of resources:

  • Supreme Court cases
  • Digitized letters, speeches, and papers of historical figures
  • Statutes
  • Political and legal treatises
  • Online galleries of photographs, artwork, and documents
  • Audio files of Supreme Court oral arguments
  • Video files

Each set of links is organized chronologically and by chapter, and beside each is an icon to indicate the type of resource to be found: text/document, images, audio, or video.

About the book

This, the first of two volumes of Liberty and Union, is a comprehensive constitutional history of the United States from the Anglo-American origins of the Constitution through the colonial and antebellum periods to the Civil War and the consequent restructuring of the nation.

Written in a clear and engaging narrative style, it successfully unites thorough chronological coverage with a thematic approach, offering critical analysis of core constitutional history topics, set in the political, social, and economic context that made them constitutional issues in the first place. Combining a thoughtful and balanced narrative with an authoritative stance on key issues, the authors explain the past in the light of the past, without imposing upon it the standards of later generations.

Authored by two experienced professors of History and Law this textbook has been thoughtfully constructed to offer an accessible alternative to dense scholarly works—avoiding unnecessary technical jargon, defining legal terms and historical personalities where appropriate, and making explicit connections between constitutional themes and historical events. For students in an undergraduate or postgraduate constitutional history course, or anyone with a general interest in constitutional developments, this book will be essential reading.

Edgar J. McManus is Professor Emeritus of History at Queens College, City University of New York.

Tara Helfman is Assistant Professor at Syracuse University College of Law.

What experts are saying about Liberty and Union, Volume 1

“Liberty and Union is a superb primer on the English origins of American jurisprudence that highlights the most significant aspects of the constitutional history of the United States. Crisply written with a dash of wit and humor, the authors excel at explaining essential legal concepts and differing historical interpretations with clarity and precision. In this splendid overview and comprehensive analysis, they persuasively make the case for the Constitution’s centrality to American culture, politics, and nationhood.”
—Edward P. Crapol, Pullen Professor of American History, Emeritus, College of William and Mary
“Rembrandt’s Aristotle, 1653, contemplated the bust of Homer for wisdom about what to make of the new state system introduced at Westphalia five years earlier. Modern states have recognized the need to make constitutions, but most turned out to be fabricated cover stories. Now with Liberty and Union we can begin to see how the U.S. Constitution made America an exception to that rule. This book fills a huge gap in intellectual history about what a constitution is supposed to be and do—but in other countries almost never is or does.”
—Charles Hill, Distinguished Fellow of International Security Studies in the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University