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Luther v. Borden


LUTHER V. BORDEN, 7 Howard (48 U.S.) 1 (1849). The United States Supreme Court resolved some constitutional questions raised in Rhode Island's Dorr Rebellion (1842). After suffrage reformers adopted a new state constitution by extralegal popular referendum and elected a new state government to redress severe problems of disfranchisement and malapportionment, the extant state government, backed covertly by President John Tyler, declared martial law and crushed the new government. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney rejected a challenge to the old regime based on the clause guaranteeing the states a republican form of government. He declared that to be a political question to be resolved by Congress and/or the president.


Gettleman, Marvin E. The Dorr Rebellion: A Study in American Radicalism, 1833–1849. New York: Random House, 1973.

Dennison, George M. The Dorr War: Republicanism on Trial, 1831–1861. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1976.

William M.Wiecek

See alsoDorr's Rebellion ; Suffrage .

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