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Until Justice Be Done

America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction

Kate Masur



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03 June 2021
The half century before the Civil War was beset with conflict over freedom as well as slavery: what were the arrangements of free society, especially for African Americans? Beginning in 1803, many free states enacted black codes that discouraged the settlement and restricted the basic rights of free black people. But claiming the equal-rights promises of the Declaration and the Constitution, a biracial movement arose to fight these racist state laws.

Kate Masur's magisterial history delivers this pathbreaking movement in vivid detail. Its advocates battled in state legislatures, Congress, and the courts, and through petitioning, party politics and elections. They visited slave states to challenge local laws that imprisoned free blacks and sold them into slavery. Despite immovable white majorities and unfavorable court decisions, their vision became increasingly mainstream. After the Civil War, their arguments shaped the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, the pillars of our second founding.
Imprint:   Norton
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 244mm,  Width: 163mm,  Spine: 38mm
Weight:   836g
ISBN:   9781324005933
ISBN 10:   1324005939
Pages:   480
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Kate Masur is professor of history at Northwestern University. A finalist for the Lincoln Prize, she is the author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C.

Reviews for Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction

Kate Masur's masterpiece is an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of the central role of African Americans in conceiving American democracy. -- Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of Race for Profit In this brilliant book, Kate Masur widens and deepens our understanding of the long struggle against racism throughout the United States. -- Alan Taylor, author of Thomas Jefferson's Education Kate Masur's Until Justice Be Done is a masterpiece of scope, insight, and graceful writing about the central question in the making, unmaking, and remaking of an American democracy. This is a book we will read and conjure with for a long time. -- David W. Blight, author of Frederick Douglass A tour de force: Until Justice Be Done is the eloquent and essential story of what the first civil rights movement achieved, and what it left for later generations to do. -- W. Caleb McDaniel, author of Sweet Taste of Liberty A magnificent contribution to the history of antiracism in America. -- Randall Kennedy, author of For Discrimination Kate Masur's sobering and inspiring history of the 'first civil rights movement' could not be more timely. -- Steven Hahn, author of A Nation Under Our Feet [A] tour de force of scholarship and lucid analysis. -- James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom Until Justice Be Done tells the origin story of one of the most important and often-misunderstood ideas in American law and politics: racial equality before the law. It is a brilliant book. -- Dylan C. Penningroth, author of The Claims of Kinfolk In our current moment, as we imagine paths forward for American democracy, Kate Masur's revelatory book is essential reading. -- Daniel J. Sharfstein, author of Thunder in the Mountains [I]lluminating history...This engrossing study goes beyond sectionalist accounts of the South's peculiar institution to show how racism and civil rights activism have shaped every corner of America. -- Publishers Weekly A fine history of the first phase of the nation's most enduring moral reform effort. -- Kirkus Reviews

  • Short-listed for Lincoln Prize 2022
  • Short-listed for Museum of African American History Stone Book Award 2021
  • Short-listed for Pulitzer Prize 2022
  • Winner of John Nau Book Prize 2022

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