100 books like Class Conflict, Slavery, and the United States Constitution

By Staughton Lynd,

Here are 100 books that Class Conflict, Slavery, and the United States Constitution fans have personally recommended if you like Class Conflict, Slavery, and the United States Constitution. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of American Slavery, American Freedom

Leonard L. Richards Author Of The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780--1860

From my list on why slaveholders once dominated American politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm now retired. But like many historians of my generation, I've been lucky. Having gone to the University of California when there was no tuition and got through graduate school thanks to the GI Bill, I then taught history for five decades, briefly at San Francisco State College and the University of Hawaii, and for a long stretch at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. During those years, I wrote eight books, one was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, and three won prizes—the Albert J. Beverage Award in 1970, the second-place Lincoln Prize in 2001, and the Langum Trust Prize in 2015. All but one deal with slavery and power.

Leonard's book list on why slaveholders once dominated American politics

Leonard L. Richards Why did Leonard love this book?

How did the Virginia slaveholders somehow become the most celebrated spokesmen for “liberty” and “equality” in the Revolutionary Era even though they all owned hundreds of slaves? Morgan contends that to understand this paradox one has to go back to 17th-century colonial Virginia where American slavery and American freedom emerged together. Moreover, argues Morgan, those days not only had a profound effect on the American Revolution and the Early Republic, but on everything that has happened since.

By Edmund S. Morgan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked American Slavery, American Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the American Revolution, Virginians were the most eloquent spokesmen for freedom and quality. George Washington led the Americans in battle against British oppression. Thomas Jefferson led them in declaring independence. Virginians drafted not only the Declaration but also the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; they were elected to the presidency of the United States under that Constitution for thirty-two of the first thirty-six years of its existence. They were all slaveholders. In the new preface Edmund S. Morgan writes: "Human relations among us still suffer from the former enslavement of a large portion of our predecessors. The freedom…


Book cover of The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South

Leonard L. Richards Author Of The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780--1860

From my list on why slaveholders once dominated American politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm now retired. But like many historians of my generation, I've been lucky. Having gone to the University of California when there was no tuition and got through graduate school thanks to the GI Bill, I then taught history for five decades, briefly at San Francisco State College and the University of Hawaii, and for a long stretch at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. During those years, I wrote eight books, one was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, and three won prizes—the Albert J. Beverage Award in 1970, the second-place Lincoln Prize in 2001, and the Langum Trust Prize in 2015. All but one deal with slavery and power.

Leonard's book list on why slaveholders once dominated American politics

Leonard L. Richards Why did Leonard love this book?

This book came out in 1956 and almost instantly became a classic. It essentially ripped apart the claims put forth by southern historians that slavery was a benign institution and that slaves were better off in the Deep South than if they had remained in “savage” Africa. The book also made it clear that slavery, and not states’ rights, brought on the Civil War. But the main reason I chose this book is that I had the good fortune of taking Stampp’s lecture course when I was a freshman back in 1952. Were his lectures dazzling? No, they weren’t. But they covered what now appears in The 1619 Project. And the message was always clear: Don’t ever underestimate the negative impact of slavery. 

By Kenneth M. Stampp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Peculiar Institution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1 SOFTCOVER BOOK(pocket size)


Book cover of Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson

Leonard L. Richards Author Of The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780--1860

From my list on why slaveholders once dominated American politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm now retired. But like many historians of my generation, I've been lucky. Having gone to the University of California when there was no tuition and got through graduate school thanks to the GI Bill, I then taught history for five decades, briefly at San Francisco State College and the University of Hawaii, and for a long stretch at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. During those years, I wrote eight books, one was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, and three won prizes—the Albert J. Beverage Award in 1970, the second-place Lincoln Prize in 2001, and the Langum Trust Prize in 2015. All but one deal with slavery and power.

Leonard's book list on why slaveholders once dominated American politics

Leonard L. Richards Why did Leonard love this book?

This book also deserves more attention than it has received. And it, too, is a corrective. Taking to task a host of biographers and historians who have pretended that the “founding fathers” were blind to slavery and that slavery was a secondary issue in 1787, Finkleman contends that slavery was always a major bone of contention. Moreover, contends Finkelman, Thomas Jefferson was anything but an antislavery man. Instead, he was on the proslavery and anti-Black side in most controversies.

By Paul Finkelman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slavery and the Founders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Slavery and the Founders, Paul Finkelman addresses a central issue of the American founding: how the first generation of leaders of the United States dealt with the profoundly important question of human bondage. The book explores the tension between the professed idea of America as stated in the Declaration of Independence, and the reality of the early American republic, reminding us of the profound and disturbing ways that slavery affected the U.S. Constitution and early American politics. It also offers the most important and detailed short critique of Thomas Jefferson's relationship to slavery available, while at the same time…


Book cover of American Taxation, American Slavery

Leonard L. Richards Author Of The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780--1860

From my list on why slaveholders once dominated American politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm now retired. But like many historians of my generation, I've been lucky. Having gone to the University of California when there was no tuition and got through graduate school thanks to the GI Bill, I then taught history for five decades, briefly at San Francisco State College and the University of Hawaii, and for a long stretch at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. During those years, I wrote eight books, one was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, and three won prizes—the Albert J. Beverage Award in 1970, the second-place Lincoln Prize in 2001, and the Langum Trust Prize in 2015. All but one deal with slavery and power.

Leonard's book list on why slaveholders once dominated American politics

Leonard L. Richards Why did Leonard love this book?

How did the United States get the tax system we all hate? How did “trickle-down economics” come into being? And how do some billionaires get away without paying taxes? Much of all this, contends Einhorn, should be blamed on the nation’s leading slaveholders—and especially clever men like James Madison—who ran the country before the Civil War. And in this brilliant book, Einhorn explains how and why it was done. 

By Robin L. Einhorn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Taxation, American Slavery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In "American Taxation, American Slavery", Robin Einhorn shows the deep, broad, and continuous influence of slavery on America's fear and loathing of taxes. From the earliest colonial times right up to the Civil War, slaveholding elites feared strong and democratic government as a threat to the institution of slavery. Einhorn reveals how the heated battles over taxation, the power to tax, and the distribution of tax burdens were rooted not in debates over personal liberty but rather in the rights of slaveholders to hold human beings as property. Along the way, she exposes the antidemocratic origins of the enduringly popular…


Book cover of The Broken Constitution: Lincoln, Slavery, and the Refounding of America

Kermit Roosevelt III Author Of The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

From my list on understanding America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved America and our Constitution. I went to law school, I clerked at the Supreme Court, and I ended up teaching Constitutional law at Penn. But as I learned more about the Constitution and our history, I realized that the story I’d absorbed growing up about what our values were and where they came from didn’t ring true. Things were a little more complicated. And so I did my own research. I read dozens of books, including the ones listed here. And in the end, I found a story that was both more true and more inspiring than the one we learned in school. 

Kermit's book list on understanding America

Kermit Roosevelt III Why did Kermit love this book?

What happened to our Constitution during the Civil War? Noah Feldman argues that Lincoln, whose goal was to save the Union, had to break the Constitution to do so. But this rupture created the possibility of a new order. The original Constitution was filled with compromises, most notably between the supporters and opponents of slavery. But a broken document could be mended to eliminate those compromises and produce an anti-slavery Constitution.

I think this book is really insightful—it will change the way you think about what it means to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

By Noah Feldman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Broken Constitution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

An innovative account of Abraham Lincoln, constitutional thinker and doer.

When Abraham Lincoln assumed the presidency in 1861, the United States’ constitutional arrangements were not the ones we know today. It was widely believed that the federal government could not use armed force to prevent a state from seceding. It was also assumed that it had no authority over slavery in states where the institution existed and that basic civil liberties could not be suspended during a rebellion without the consent of Congress. As president, Lincoln broke decisively with all these precedents,…


Book cover of The Jefferson Key

Tom Grace Author Of The Secret Cardinal

From my list on thrillers to keep you awake at night.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an avid reader and devour books of all types, but for pure entertainment I love a good thriller. These are the kind of books I read on planes and at the beach, and these are the kinds of books I shared with my late father. I contributed a piece on Rudyard Kipling’s Kim to the collection Thrillers: 100 Must Reads and am a member of the International Thriller Writers. While I write thrillers professionally, I remain a passionate reader of the genre and love to share the brilliant stories that kept me reading late into the night.

Tom's book list on thrillers to keep you awake at night

Tom Grace Why did Tom love this book?

Steve Berry has built a successful writing career mining interesting nuggets from history and asking a simple what-if question that sends his imagination racing. The seventh Cotton Malone thriller opens with the failed attempt to assassinate President Danny Daniels. Berry links this attempt with the successful, but seemingly unrelated presidential assassinations in 1865, 1881, 1901, and 1963. The historical gold nugget at the heart of The Jefferson Key is a clause in the United States Constitution, contained in Article 1, Section 8. Malone races across the U.S. to break a cipher created by Thomas Jefferson, unravel a mystery concocted by Andrew Jackson, and unearth a document drafted by the Founding Fathers in order to stop the secret society of American pirates.

By Steve Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Jefferson Key as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cotton Malone has been called on to defend his country's safety in many exotic locations around the world, often using his knowledge of history to get to the heart of mysteries and conspiracies stretching back for centuries. But never has the danger been quite so close to home.

A stunning opening sets the tone of explosive action and mind-bending intrigue as Cotton battles an extraordinary group of families whose unseen influence dates back to the pages of the U.S. Constitution - and whose thirst for power is about to be satisfied by the cracking of a code devised by Thomas…


Book cover of The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution

Joseph D'Agnese Author Of Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the United States Constitution

From my list on the creation of the U.S. Constitution.

Why am I passionate about this?

Joseph D’Agnese grew up in the Bicentennial-fueled excitement of the 1970s, and spent 1976 fake-playing a fife and sporting a tricorn hat in various school events. Besides teaching him how to get in and out of Revolutionary-period knickers, this experience awakened in him a love for the Founding Era of American history. He has since authored three history titles with his wife, The New York Times bestselling author Denise Kiernan. 

Joseph's book list on the creation of the U.S. Constitution

Joseph D'Agnese Why did Joseph love this book?

Because so much of the US’s focus is centered on the Fourth of July and the date 1776, it’s easy for people to assume that after the colonies declared independence, life in the new nation was simply wonderful, and we never looked back. Wrong!

Within two years after the end of the Revolutionary War, the nation was in serious trouble. The nascent government had no Army or Navy, no power to print or mint currency, and intentionally weak leadership because the last thing anyone wanted was a tyrannical ruler. Something had to be done if the nation was going to survive.

Stewart brings an attorney’s mind and a creative writer’s eye to the story of that sweltering summer in Philadelphia. Narrative nonfiction at its best. We see how the brainy, nerdy James Madison convinces George Washington to lead a delegation of men to design a strong working framework for government.…

By David O Stewart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Summer of 1787 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Summer of 1787 takes us into the sweltering room in which the founding fathers struggled for four months to produce the Constitution: the flawed but enduring document that would define the nation—then and now.

George Washington presided, James Madison kept the notes, Benjamin Franklin offered wisdom and humor at crucial times. The Summer of 1787 traces the struggles within the Philadelphia Convention as the delegates hammered out the charter for the world’s first constitutional democracy. Relying on the words of the delegates themselves to explore the Convention’s sharp conflicts and hard bargaining, David O. Stewart lays out the passions…


Book cover of Religion and the Constitution

Linwood Jackson Jr. Author Of Justification

From my list on challenging the traditional education definition.

Why am I passionate about this?

My field of work involves research in self-development and in devotional improvement. I write and lecture about the need to allow the devotional conversation to feel its living experience; in this way knowledge, above a perception created through tradition, about what is believed can keep and sustain the conversation. My joy is in allowing people to think about the nature of their human being and of their devotional conversation. Liberty of the mind to experience life through no other lens but that of what self has discovered, examined, and proven, is the type of liberty we should all strive for, and I feel as though these books, in their own way, get this done.

Linwood's book list on challenging the traditional education definition

Linwood Jackson Jr. Why did Linwood love this book?

This is a brilliant textbook. Digging into my studies, I found a philosophy of law, in regards to the respect due to the nature of the human being, within the Bible, and sensing the same philosophy within the U.S. Constitution, I purchased this book. Much like the other books, these authors do a good job, through their presenting and reviewing of various cases, and of other documents, of setting the Constitution in the right light. I am recommending this book because it is a good read for anyone wanting to better understand the context of the Constitution’s ideology. I found this book to be not only educational but personally edifying. 

By Michael W. McConnell, John H. Garvey, Thomas C. Berg

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Religion and the Constitution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Religion and the Constitution, Third Edition, written by a team of well-known Constitutional Law scholars, thoughtfully examines the relationship between government and religion within the framework of the U.S. Constitution. This classroom-tested casebook is suitable for courses in Religious Liberty, Religion and the Constitution, or Religious Institutions and the Law.

The Third Edition has been completely updated with discussions of recent important cases and includes expanded discussion of key topic areas.

Professors McConnell, Garvey, and Berg bring years of experience and insight to teaching students about Religion and the Constitution:

Broad recurring themes place current debate in context: Free exercise…


Book cover of Unaccompanied Sonata

Mark Joyner Author Of Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want

From my list on self-help books masquerading as sci-fi.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an author, inventor, military veteran, (mostly) self-taught scholar, and an entrepreneur. Every internet-connected person interacts with things I invented (the tracking pixel, the ebook, etc) every day, but I'm best known for my books about business and personal development. As I write this, I'm serving as the Founder and CEO of a software platform called "Simpleology." It's designed to solve what I think is one of mankind's greatest threats to survival as a species:  "The Complexity Gap." It's the gap between the amount of information in the world and our ability to navigate it. It solves this by guiding you to focus on what we call "HIME" (high impact, minimal effort).

Mark's book list on self-help books masquerading as sci-fi

Mark Joyner Why did Mark love this book?

Imagine encapsulating the essence of the founding literature of the United States into a prose poem. That's Unaccompanied Sonata.

After reading this story, I understood how governments sometimes not only strip man of his freedom (always in the name of "the good of the people") but can also transform our greatest freedom-advocating voices into the merciless guards of an open-air intellectual prison.

This story left me with no answers. It left me with something better: a deep conviction about the necessity for us to invent better systems of governance.

By Orson Scott Card,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unaccompanied Sonata as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulphouse Press Short Story paperback #49.


Book cover of Decision in Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention of 1787

Joseph D'Agnese Author Of Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the United States Constitution

From my list on the creation of the U.S. Constitution.

Why am I passionate about this?

Joseph D’Agnese grew up in the Bicentennial-fueled excitement of the 1970s, and spent 1976 fake-playing a fife and sporting a tricorn hat in various school events. Besides teaching him how to get in and out of Revolutionary-period knickers, this experience awakened in him a love for the Founding Era of American history. He has since authored three history titles with his wife, The New York Times bestselling author Denise Kiernan. 

Joseph's book list on the creation of the U.S. Constitution

Joseph D'Agnese Why did Joseph love this book?

This one is my absolute favorite. The Collier brothers wrote numerous books on American history for kids and adults alike.

Even though I knew that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 resulted in the creation of the U.S. Constitution, many times as I was reading this book—which is aimed squarely at adults—I found myself thinking, “I can’t wait to see how this ends!” The book is really that suspenseful, and reads like a novel.

The authors are especially good at describing the personalities of the players. My favorite is their analysis of the father-son nature of the bond between George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, who served as the general’s aide during the Revolutionary War.

I am willing to bet most fans of the musical Hamilton never quite grasped the nuances of that relationship. I also really loved their description of a famous moment in the deliberations when George Washington loses his…

By Christopher Collier, James Lincoln Collier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Decision in Philadelphia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Includes a complete copy of the Constitution.
Fifty-five men met in Philadelphia in 1787 to write a document that would create a country and change a world. Here is a remarkable rendering of that fateful time, told with humanity and humor. "The best popular history of the Constitutional Convention available."--Library Journal


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Constitution of the United States, United States Politics, and Slavery?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Constitution of the United States, United States Politics, and Slavery.

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