• The Second Founding

  • How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution
  • By: Eric Foner
  • Narrated by: Donald Corren
  • Length: 7 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (338 ratings)

Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks, and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Audible Plus auto-renews for $7.95/mo after 30 days. Upgrade or cancel anytime.
The Second Founding  By  cover art

The Second Founding

By: Eric Foner
Narrated by: Donald Corren
Try for $0.00

$7.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $17.19

Buy for $17.19

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's summary

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar, a timely history of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation's foundation and how those guarantees have been shaken over time. 

The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States. 

Eric Foner's compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre-Civil War mass meetings of African-American "colored citizens" and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late 19th century. A series of momentous decisions by the Supreme Court narrowed the rights guaranteed in the amendments, while the states actively undermined them. The Jim Crow system was the result. 

Again today there are serious political challenges to birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Like all great works of history, this one informs our understanding of the present as well as the past: knowledge and vigilance are always necessary to secure our basic rights.

©2019 Eric Foner (P)2019 Recorded Books
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Second Founding

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    264
  • 4 Stars
    52
  • 3 Stars
    17
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    234
  • 4 Stars
    42
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    228
  • 4 Stars
    37
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book - problematic narrator

I admit to being disappointed that Professor Foner was not reading his book in his distinctive and familiar voice, but determined to give this narrator a try. After he has mispronounced Chief Justice Taney’s name four times within the first hour of the narration, however, I am distracted and disappointed. Audible, if you won’t let historians read their own work, make sure the narrators are knowledgeable about the period, please!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent History

Stuff I never learned in school. Finally understand how deeply rooted institutional racism is in this country and how few people in the government have been willing to take a principled stand to work and fight to end it over the past 150 years. Recommend this book for anybody who wants to understand how our past affects us now.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book Except For Except Epilogue

Five stars for the entire book up until the epilogue. Epilogue deserves -0- stars. The book is interesting and thorough history of passage, application, and Supreme Court interpretation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and acts of Congress that attempted to enforce them through the first decade of the 20th Century.

However, the epilogue was extremely misleading. Foner claims that the Court through the present has required state action to enforce acts passed in the reconstruction era under the authority of the 14th Amendment. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was initially passed under the authority of the 13th Amendment and then re-enacted under the authority of the 14th Amendment, has been interpreted by the Supreme Court since the 1970s to authorize individuals to sue other individuals, businesses, and other entities for employment discrimination, 42 USC Sec. 1981 and housing discrimination, 42 USC Sec. 1982, even though no state action was involved. These statutes were based on the Reconstruction Amendments not the Commerce Clause. Forner should have consulted a lawyer before completing his epilogue. See, Johnson v Railway Express Agency, 421 U.S. 424 (1975), Tilman v. Wheaton-Haven Recreation Assn., 410 U. S. 431 (1973), and Runyon v McCrary, 427 U.S. 160 (1976), Paterson v. McKean Union, 491 U.S. 164 (1989) upheld Runyon holding the Sec. 1981 applied to private employment but that it didn’t apply to harassment in employment claims because it wasn’t part of contract formation. Congress responded in 1991 by amending Sec. 1981 to specificity apply to private employment harassment claims. Foner should have discussed the Supreme Court’s reversals of its prior decisions that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S. Sections 1981 and 1982) didn’t apply to individual actions.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Essential Reading in 2020

The legacy and impact of slavery and Jim Crow have cast a long shadow and Eric Foner gives us an in-depth and insightful look at the 13th, 14th, & 15th Amendments.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very relevant in our age of voter suppression

Clearly presents the complex story of how the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments came to be and how they ultimately failed to protect black rights and freedoms during the Jim Crow era.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Stop before the epilogue

It's a good book. It's rather short and should not be your only dive into the topic of reconstruction or 13A - 15A, but it's a great survey of the topic until the epilogue. The epilogue is a dive into current and potential future SCOTUS jurisprudence from a purely political perspective. Appropriate for a column in the NYtimes or whatnot, but not here.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Unexpectedly biased

Foner's Reconstruction and Free Soil Free Labor Free Men are great scholarly works. I was very anxious to read this book and was somewhat disappointed. He express a lot of opinion here. From condemning the Reconstruction Congress for not doing away with the Electoral College to taking shots at President Trump. Neither of these are unsound opinion, but I did not listen to this book for opinion.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book.

A copy should be mailed to every supreme court justice. Short but powerful interpretation of these consequential amendments.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Eye opening

Learned how much the 13th 14th and 15th amendments changed US government; how the potential of amendments was restricted by the Supreme Court; what happened during Reconstruction; and about the depths of racism in American history..

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful book

The Second Founding is a great book. I, like most Americans, had little knowledge of the reconstruction amendments and how they were subverted by southern state governments and the Supreme Court. The history of how these amendments were essentially nullified is tragic and disturbing. Every American should read this book and join the struggle to ensure that every American enjoy equal treatment, equal protection, and equal rights granted by the Constitution.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful