How Lincoln Broke the Constitution
Noah Feldman on Beyond the Page: The Best of the Sun Valley Writers‘ Conference
Welcome to Beyond the Page: The Best of the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. Over the past 25 years, SVWC has become the gold standard of American literary festivals, bringing together contemporary writing’s brightest stars for their view of the world through a literary lens. Every month, Beyond the Page curates and distills the best talks from the past quarter century at the Writers’ Conference, giving you a front row seat on the kind of knowledge, inspiration, laughter, and meaning that Sun Valley is known for.
In this episode, John Burnham Schwartz speaks with Noah Feldman, Harvard Law professor and renowned Constitutional scholar, whose groundbreaking new book, The Broken Constitution: Lincoln, Slavery, and the Refounding of America, takes us inside one of the more surprising realities of American History: in abolishing slavery and preserving our union, Abraham Lincoln was not adhering to the original Constitution of 1787, but rather tearing it up in order to save it through transformation. Feldman calls not only for a reassessment of Lincoln himself but also for a new look at America’s founding document and its place in our law, our politics, and ourselves.
From the interview:
Noah Feldman: Although I conceived this book before Donald Trump was elected president, almost all of the research and writing took place during his presidency. And when Donald Trump is President of the United States, you do not want to be coming across evidence that Abraham Lincoln, probably the greatest president we ever had, broke the Constitution and got away with it. I mean, I was really disturbed about it, so much so that I thought to myself, if Donald Trump is reelected, can I say this? I mean, it’s true, but can I say it? I mean, I would have found a way to say it, but still.
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Noah Feldman is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, a columnist for Bloomberg View, and host of Pushkin Industry’s Deep Background podcast. He is the author of ten books, including The Three Lives of James Madison and Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices.