“…this constitution of ours is nor a mass of dry rules, but the very substance of our freedom; not obsolete, but in every part alive…The Constitution was made to free us, not to bind.”
The author of these words, Frederic Stimson, wrote during an interesting time. Women could at last vote, as could many of the large number of immigrants who had entered the United States from Europe with no previous experience of British and American political traditions. Both groups might benefit from a “treatise for ordinary citizens” that would review “the cardinal or elemental constitutional rights,” thought Stimson. The book begins with a list of clauses in the Constitution that protect private rights and ends with a diagram of state and federal powers. The first chapter discusses “the human side” of the Constitution and the American doctrine of the sovereignty of the people. Lucid presentations of private rights, beginning with the right to personal liberty and the right to property follow.
In 1908, Stimson’s The American Constitution appeared, intending to revise the book some fifteen years later; the author discovered that “to bring discussions in line with present questions” he needed to instead rewrite the book. The result was The American Constitution As It Protects Private Rights (1923).
*This volume has been photographically reproduced from the first edition of 1923 and thus preserves the historical authenticity of the original, including typographical errors and printing irregularities.*