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America today is a vast and far-flung empire, and some of its deepest political divisions implicate issues of race, religion, and gender. Superimposed on these divisions is the template of federalism, allowing different states and regions to try to resolve these divisive political issues differently. It was ever thus; and in a quick and broad way, I would like to sketch out for you a few examples of earlier historical flash points where interstate federalism met race, religion, and gender.

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