American Scripture

By Pauline Maier,

Book cover of American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence

Book 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 birth in the hard and tortuous…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked American Scripture as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The U.S. Constitution is the document that spells out the framework of American government. In contrast, the Declaration is something of a “one and done” document; interesting for historical reasons, but not relevant to modern governance.

And yet…of the two documents, the Declaration of Independence has a stronger hold on American emotions. Both documents have their own holiday, but not many Americans celebrate Constitution Day, which falls on each September 17th, reserving fireworks and outdoor meals for the Fourth of July instead.

Why? According to the late MIT historian Pauline Maier, the Declaration has become a kind of…

All of the Parliamentary laws and massacres ultimately led to the day in July 1776 when the delegates at the Second Continental Congress declared their independence from King George III. Pauline Maier looks at the founding document of the United States in-depth, explaining how colonial grievances against the Quartering Act and other laws became the poetry we still know. I really like how Maier traces the ideas contained in the Declaration and how Thomas Jefferson’s words were altered in congress, in particular, removing passages that condemned the king for slavery. Ultimately, she leaves us thinking about the impact of the…

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