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discusses American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence
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 befrom 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 resolutionsmost of which have gone unnoticed over the past two centuriesthat 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 doby holding it as sacrosanct, akin to holy writwe may actually be betraying its purpose and its power. from the publisher's website (timspalding)… (more)
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Pauline Rubbelke was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her original ambition was to be a newspaper reporter. At Radcliffe College, she wrote for The Harvard Crimson, where she met her future husband, Charles S. Maier, and worked summers at the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass. After graduation, Pauline and Charles both went to England for further study, she as a Fulbright Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science. After completing their fellowships, they married and eventually had three children. Back at Harvard University to pursue her PhD degree, Pauline Maier was drawn to the study of the 18th century and the American Revolutionary War era. She taught at the University of Massachusetts Boston for nine years, and for a year at the University of Wisconsin before joining the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978 as Kenan Professor of American History. In 1998, she won MIT's Killian Award, given annually to a senior member of the faculty for outstanding achievement. She also was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was the 2011 President of the Society of American Historians. Pauline Maier is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books, including From Resistance to Revolution (1972).
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