U.S. History/Founding Fathers


Men and women at the time, on both sides of the conflict, did understand it as a war against slavery, even before it began. This is clear from what they said and wrote. An important distinction must be drawn here: a war against slavery did not necessarily mean a war for abolition, at least not in 1861, or not for everybody. It did mean, though, that many white Northerners and even some white Southerners were ready to say Enough. Enough compromise
of principles; enough betrayal of people and ideals; enough cruelty; enough gradual surrender of what had been won in 1776. The war represented the overdue effort to sort out the double legacy of Americaís founders: the uneasy marriage of the Declarationís inspired ideals with the Constitutionís ingenious expedients.

.... What does the author mean by "double legacy"?

I think on one hand they wanted to create a government based on freedom & liberty like stated in the declaration of independence but when creating the government, the constitution had rights  that reserved for members of a specific class.  I'm very confused as to what the double legacy of the founding fathers could be. I thought their sole legacy was creating our government nothing else.


You've got it.  The author means that the impacts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on American history were sometimes in conflict.  They wanted to create a government with liberty (the Declaration of Independence), but they had to compromise with certain groups in order to get them to agree to be a part of it (the Constitution).

Joshua Patty

U.S. History

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Joshua Patty


Abraham Lincoln; American Civil War; 19th Century American History; and American Religious History are all expert categories. Can also answer most questions about US Presidents; general American History; American government structure. Lifelong student of American history, especially Abraham Lincoln


Lifelong student of American history, with coursework in American history and government at the college and graduate level.

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.