The Limits of Sovereignty: Property Confiscation in the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - Law - 200 pages

Americans take for granted that government does not have the right to permanently seize private property without just compensation. Yet for much of American history, such a view constituted the weaker side of an ongoing argument about government sovereignty and individual rights. What brought about this drastic shift in legal and political thought?

Daniel W. Hamilton locates that change in the crucible of the Civil War. In the early days of the war, Congress passed the First and Second Confiscation Acts, authorizing the Union to seize private property in the rebellious states of the Confederacy, and the Confederate Congress responded with the broader Sequestration Act. The competing acts fueled a fierce, sustained debate among legislators and lawyers about the principles underlying alternative ideas of private property and state power, a debate which by 1870 was increasingly dominated by today’s view of more limited government power.

Through its exploration of this little-studied consequence of the debates over confiscation during the Civil War, The Limits of Sovereignty will be essential to an understanding of the place of private property in American law and legal history.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Introduction
1
Legislative Property Confiscation before the Civil War
14
Radical Property Confiscation in the ThirtySeventh Congress
20
The Conservative Assault on Confiscation
41
The Moderate Coup
57
The Confederate Sequestration Act
82
The Ordeal of Sequestration
111
Civil War Confiscation in the Reconstruction Supreme Court
140
The Limits of Sovereignty
169
Notes
173
Index
217
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Daniel W. Hamilton is assistant professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Bibliographic information