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The Broken Constitution: Lincoln, Slavery & The Refounding of America

Mon, February 20, 2023
Dinner Program
Noah Feldman

Abraham Lincoln is justly revered for his brilliance, compassion, humor, and rededication of the United States to achieving liberty and justice for all. He led the nation into a bloody civil war to uphold the system of government established by the US Constitution—a system he regarded as the “last best hope of mankind.” But how did Lincoln understand the Constitution? In his latest book, The Broken Constitution, Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard University, examines how Lincoln broke the Constitution in order to remake it. Offering a riveting narrative of Lincoln’s constitutional choices and how he made them, Feldman places Lincoln in the rich context of the thinking of the time, from African American abolitionists to Lincoln’s Republican rivals and Secessionist ideologues. (Adapted from: The Broken Constitution)

Professor Feldman will deliver the Salvatori Center's Spring 2023 Lofgren Lecture in American Constitutionalism. 


Noah Feldman is Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Chairman of the Society of Fellows, and founding director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law, all at Harvard University. He specializes in constitutional studies, with particular emphasis on power and ethics, design of innovative governance solutions, law and religion, and the history of legal ideas.

A policy & public affairs columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, Feldman also writes for The New York Review of Books and was a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine for nearly a decade. He hosts the Deep Background podcast, an interview show that explores the historical, scientific, legal and cultural context behind the biggest stories in the news.

Through his consultancy, Ethical Compass, Feldman advises clients like Facebook & eBay on how to improve ethical decision-making by creating and implementing new governance solutions. In this capacity, he conceived and architected the Facebook Oversight Board, and continues to advise the company on ethics and governance issues.

Feldman is the author of 9 books, including his latest, The Broken Constitution: Lincoln, Slavery & The Refounding of America (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2021).

Other works include: The Arab Winter: A Tragedy (Princeton University Press, 2020), The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President (Random House, 2017); Cool War: The Future of Global Competition (Random House, 2013); Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices (Twelve Publishing, 2010); The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State (Princeton University Press, 2008); Divided By God: America’s Church-State Problem and What We Should Do About It (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2005); What We Owe Iraq: War and the Ethics of Nation building (Princeton University Press 2004); and After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2003).

He is also the author of two casebooks with Kathleen Sullivan: Constitutional Law, Twentieth Edition (Foundation Press, Fall 2019) and First Amendment, Seventh Edition (Foundation Press, 2019).

In 2003, Feldman served as senior constitutional advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, and subsequently advised members of the Iraqi Governing Council on the drafting of Iraq’s interim constitution. 

Earning his A.B. summa cum laude from Harvard, Feldman finished first in his class. Selected as a Rhodes Scholar, he earned a D.Phil. from Oxford University, writing his dissertation on Aristotle’s Ethics and its Islamic reception. Feldman received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as a book reviews editor of the Yale Law Journal. He clerked for Justice David Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court and Chief Judge Harry T. Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Source: Harvard Law School

Professor Feldman will deliver the Salvatori Center's Spring 2023 Lofgren Lecture in American Constitutionalism. 


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