August 24, 2018 | Professor Robert J. Pushaw‘s review of Ron Chernow’s book Grant (2017), titled “Ulysses S. Grant and the Lost Opportunity for Racial Justice” (SSRN) has been published in Constitutional Commentary, 33 Const. Comment. 331. The review lauds Chernow’s biography for chronicling Grant’s commitment to racial progress, which helps illuminate modern debates over a spectrum of racial issues.
Abstract of “Ulysses S. Grant and the Lost Opportunity for Racial Justice”:
Every law student, legal academic, and attorney would benefit from reading Ron Chernow’s exhaustive biography of Ulysses S. Grant. At first glance, that recommendation sounds counterintuitive, because Grant was not a lawyer–much less one like Alexander Hamilton. Nor was Grant a distinguished intellectual like Woodrow Wilson, whose novel vision of the Constitution reshaped America in ways that reverberate to this day. Rather, Grant was a failed businessman, a ruthlessly effective but not especially brilliant general, and a mediocre President. Chernow attempts to rehabilitate Grant’s military and political reputation. He does so primarily by highlighting Grant’s one indispensable contribution to American law and government: spearheading the implementation of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the various constitutional amendments and statutes that sought to guarantee former slaves not merely their liberty but also their civil and political rights.