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American Scripture Making the Declaration of Independence (Paperback)

Author:  Pauline Maier
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Learn more about American Scripture:

Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 0679779086
ISBN-13: 9780679779087
Sku: 30356651
Publish Date: 4/10/2007
Dimensions:  (in Inches) 8H x 5.75L x 0.75T
Pages:  336
A ground-breaking work of scholarship traces the evolution of the Declaration of Independence in relation to other democratic documents of the time and examines Abraham Lincolns role in elevating it to sanctity. Reprint. 25,000 first printing. *Author: Maier, Pauline *Subtitle: Making the Declaration of Independence *Publication Date: 1998/07/01 *Number of Pages: 304 *Binding Type: Paperback *Language: English *Depth: 0.75 *Width: 5.75 *Height: 8.00
From the Publisher:
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 Declarations 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 Paines Common Sense, which shifted the terms of debate; and the political maneuvers that allowed Congress to make the momentous decision.In Maiers 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.Drawing upon dozens of other "declarations of independence" written to protest the repression of the colonies by King George III, as well as carefully analyzing the drafts of the Declaration signed on July 4, 1776, Maier reveals the extent to which Jefferson's words and ideas were indebted to popular political beliefs.
Pauline Maier, one of our foremost scholars of the Revolutionary period, has written what may be be the most significant work on the creation of the Declaration of Independence and its historical destiny since Carl Becker's eponymous study published 75 years ago. She begins by tracing the complex history of the composition of the document in its contemporary context, following with a breathtaking account of the gradual process of sanctification undergone by the Declaration in the 19th century, culminating in Lincoln's efforts to ensure its permanent persistence in American political culture. Finally, she cautions and directs us to wonder if in venerating the Declaration as we do--as the central holy writ of our civil religion--we may not actually betray its original purpose and power.


Kirkus Reviews
"Outstanding....Arguably, the best book ever written on the Declaration of Independence." 04/01/1997

"...[A]n adroit, immensely readable book, filled with arresting insights and amazing details." June 1997

New York Times Book Review
"Maier builds a persuasive narrative with several distinctive strengths." 07/06/1997

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"Maier has created an impressive piece of work." - Michael J. Ybarra 06/29/1997

Washington Post Book World
"Maier skillfully traces the progress of the Declaration from political event to sacred text. Her exegesis of the text is splendid." - Stephen E. Ambrose Jr. 07/06/1997

Product Attributes

Product attributeeBooks:   Kobo
Product attributeBook Format:   Paperback
Product attributeNumber of Pages:   0336
Product attributePublisher:   Vintage Books
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