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The evangelical origins of the living constitution / John W. Compton.

By: Compton, John W, 1977- [author.].
Material type: TextTextSeries: JSTOR eBooks.Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2014Description: 1 online resource.Content type: text Media type: computer Carrier type: online resourceISBN: 9780674419889; 067441988X.Subject(s): Religion and law -- United States -- History | Constitutional law -- United States -- History | Church and state -- United States -- HistoryGenre/Form: Electronic books.Additional physical formats: Print version:: Evangelical origins of the living constitutionDDC classification: 342.7302/9 Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Evangelical challenge to American constitutionalism -- Moral reform and constitutional adjudication, 1830-1854 -- Triumph of evangelical public morality in the states -- Triumph of evangelical public morality in the Supreme Court -- Reexamining the collapse of the old order.
Summary: Main Description:The New Deal is often said to represent a sea change in American constitutional history, overturning a century of precedent to permit an expanded federal government, increased regulation of the economy, and eroded property protections. John Compton offers a surprising revision of this familiar narrative, showing that nineteenth-century evangelical Protestants, not New Deal reformers, paved the way for the most important constitutional developments of the twentieth century. Following the great religious revivals of the early 1800s, American evangelicals embarked on a crusade to eradicate immorality from national life by destroying the property that made it possible. Their cause represented a direct challenge to founding-era legal protections of sinful practices such as slavery, lottery gambling, and buying and selling liquor. Although evangelicals urged the judiciary to bend the rules of constitutional adjudication on behalf of moral reform, antebellum judges usually resisted their overtures. But after the Civil War, American jurists increasingly acquiesced in the destruction of property on moral grounds. In the early twentieth century, Oliver Wendell Holmes and other critics of laissez-faire constitutionalism used the judiciary's acceptance of evangelical moral values to demonstrate that conceptions of property rights and federalism were fluid, socially constructed, and subject to modification by democratic majorities. The result was a progressive constitutional regime-rooted in evangelical Protestantism-that would hold sway for the rest of the twentieth century.
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Item type Current location Call number URL Status Date due Barcode
Electronic Book UT Tyler Online
Online
KF4869.E93 C66 2014 (Browse shelf) https://ezproxy.uttyler.edu/login?url=http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/j.ctt6wpptp Available ocn871257897

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Print version record.

Evangelical challenge to American constitutionalism -- Moral reform and constitutional adjudication, 1830-1854 -- Triumph of evangelical public morality in the states -- Triumph of evangelical public morality in the Supreme Court -- Reexamining the collapse of the old order.

Main Description:The New Deal is often said to represent a sea change in American constitutional history, overturning a century of precedent to permit an expanded federal government, increased regulation of the economy, and eroded property protections. John Compton offers a surprising revision of this familiar narrative, showing that nineteenth-century evangelical Protestants, not New Deal reformers, paved the way for the most important constitutional developments of the twentieth century. Following the great religious revivals of the early 1800s, American evangelicals embarked on a crusade to eradicate immorality from national life by destroying the property that made it possible. Their cause represented a direct challenge to founding-era legal protections of sinful practices such as slavery, lottery gambling, and buying and selling liquor. Although evangelicals urged the judiciary to bend the rules of constitutional adjudication on behalf of moral reform, antebellum judges usually resisted their overtures. But after the Civil War, American jurists increasingly acquiesced in the destruction of property on moral grounds. In the early twentieth century, Oliver Wendell Holmes and other critics of laissez-faire constitutionalism used the judiciary's acceptance of evangelical moral values to demonstrate that conceptions of property rights and federalism were fluid, socially constructed, and subject to modification by democratic majorities. The result was a progressive constitutional regime-rooted in evangelical Protestantism-that would hold sway for the rest of the twentieth century.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

Compton (Chapman Univ.) traces the idea of a living constitution to Protestant evangelicals' 19th-century campaigns against Sabbath-breaking, lottery gambling, and alcohol drinking. Properly distinguishing evangelicals from their Puritan predecessors, he argues that these reform movements eroded the idea of vested property rights and that once lawyers accepted the idea of circumventing such rights for moral reforms, the boundaries were necessarily compromised in areas of economic regulation. Scholars have long associated the First and Second Great Awakenings with American political reforms. More recently, Robert D. Woodberry has argued that conversionary Protestants contributed to the rise of stable democracies throughout the world. Compton's thesis is so provocative because many modern evangelicals espouse a strict construction of the Constitution, which reflects their interpretations of scriptures, and scholars more typically associate the living Constitution with the Progressive Era, social Darwinism, and the New Deal. As Howard Gillman does in The Constitution Besieged (CH, Jun'93, 30-5854), Compton uses familiar materials, including Justice Holmes's dissent in Lochner v. New York (1905) as well as more obscure state cases, to highlight a unique, counterintuitive, engaging thesis that will undoubtedly stimulate further research. --John R. Vile, Middle Tennessee State University

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