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American Scripture Making the Declaration of Independence

ISBN-10: 0679779086
ISBN-13: 9780679779087
Edition: 1998
Authors: Pauline Maier
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Description: Pauline Maier shows us the Declaration as both the defining statement of our national identity and the moral standard by which we live as a nation. It is truly "American Scripture," and Maier tells us how it came to be -- from the Declaration's  More...

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Book details

List price: $16.95
Copyright year: 1998
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 5/26/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 336
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.770
Language: English

Pauline Maier shows us the Declaration as both the defining statement of our national identity and the moral standard by which we live as a nation. It is truly "American Scripture," and Maier tells us how it came to be -- from the Declaration's birth in the hard and tortuous struggle by which Americans arrived at Independence to the ways in which, in the nineteenth century, the document itself became sanctified. Maier describes the transformation of the Second Continental Congress into a national government, unlike anything that preceded or followed it, and with more authority than the colonists would ever have conceded to the British Parliament; the great difficulty in making the decision for Independence; the influence of Paine's []Common Sense[], which shifted the terms of debate; and the political maneuvers that allowed Congress to make the momentous decision. In Maier's hands, the Declaration of Independence is brought close to us. She lets us hear the voice of the people as revealed in the other "declarations" of 1776: the local resolutions -- most of which have gone unnoticed over the past two centuries -- that explained, advocated, and justified Independence and undergirded Congress's work. Detective-like, she discloses the origins of key ideas and phrases in the Declaration and unravels the complex story of its drafting and of the group-editing job which angered Thomas Jefferson. Maier also reveals what happened to the Declaration after the signing and celebration: how it was largely forgotten and then revived to buttress political arguments of the nineteenth century; and, most important, how Abraham Lincoln ensured its persistence as a living force in American society. Finally, she shows how by the very act of venerating the Declaration as we do -- by holding it as sacrosanct, akin to holy writ -- we may actually be betraying its purpose and its power.

Pauline Maier was born on April 27, 1938 in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received an undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Radcliffe College in 1960, studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science on a Fulbright scholarship, and received a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. She was a history professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for three decades. She wrote several books including From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765-1776, The Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams, and American Sculpture: Making the Declaration of Independence. She won the George Washington Book Prize for Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788. She died of lung cancer on August 12, 2013 at the age of 75.

Introduction: Gathering at the Shrine
Independence
Congress
Independence?
Common Sense
A Republic?
Decision
The "Other" Declarations of Independence
In English Ways
Mobilizing the People
Declaring Independence
Founding a Republic
Mr. Jefferson and His Editors
The Drafting Committee
Jefferson's Draft: The Charges Against the King
Jefferson's Draft: A Revolutionary Manifesto
Congress's Declaration
American Scripture
Spreading the News
An All-But-Forgotten Testament
A Partisan Document
Sacred Text
Equality and Rights
Epilogue: Reflecting at the Memorials
State and Local Declarations of Independence, A Log: April-July 1776
Local Resolutions on Independence: Some Examples
The Declaration of Independence: The Jefferson Draft with Congress's Editorial Changes
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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