The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States

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Together in one book, the two most important documents in United States history form the enduring legacy of America’s Founding Fathers including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.

The Declaration of Independence was the promise of a representative government; the Constitution was the fulfillment of that promise.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress issued a unanimous declaration: the thirteen North American colonies would be the thirteen United States of America, free and independent of Great Britain. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration set forth the terms of a new form of government with the following words: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Framed in 1787 and in effect since March 1789, the Constitution of the United States of America fulfilled the promise of the Declaration by establishing a republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791. Among the rights guaranteed by these amendments are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and the right to trial by jury. Written so that it could be adapted to endure for years to come, the Constitution has been amended only seventeen times since 1791 and has lasted longer than any other written form of government.


From the Paperback edition.
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About the author

Pauline Maier was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received her BA from Radcliffe College in 1960, was a Fulbright Scholar at the London School of Economics in 1960-61, and took her PhD at Harvard University in 1968. She taught at Harvard, the University of Massachusetts (Boston), University of Wisconsin, Yale University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where was a William R. Kenan Jr Professor of American History. She was the author of From Resistance to Revolution, The Old Revolutionaries, and The American People: A History (a single-authored text for junior high school), as well as numerous other articles and reviews. She died in 2013.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bantam Classics
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Published on
Apr 29, 2008
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Pages
112
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ISBN
9780553904970
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / General
History / United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
Political Science / Constitutions
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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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.


From the Hardcover edition.
Have you ever wanted to read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and really understand what they’re saying?

 

Learn how they impact your life; your rights and freedoms? How the branches of government were formed, and why?

 

You’re not alone. Millions of Americans want a deeper understanding of their country’s founding principles and don’t know where to start. When the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were written by our founders over two centuries ago, they were designed to endure. And indeed they’ve remained, as Paul Skousen writes, “the most amazing freedom formula ever invented”—but navigating eighteenth-century legal language can be challenging.

 

Recognizing this problem, Skousen provides an easy, step-by-step guide that will forever change the way you think about your country and your freedoms. Using visual tools, exercises, and several valuable memory aids, this book will help you:

 

·      Master the Constitution’s seven articles and the twenty-seven important rights named in the Bill of Rights.

·      Navigate the Declaration’s five power statements on freedom and unlock their eighteenth-century phrases with a convenient glossary.

·      Discover how the Constitution’s guiding principles protect human rights.

·      And so much more.

 

Thousands of books describe the origins of these famous documents, but only How to Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence gives you a path to truly understanding them.

 

 

Praise for How to Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence:

 

“It’s great! I highly recommend How to Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence!”—Sam Sorbo, actress; host of The Sam Sorbo Show
 
“How to Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is the best book of the 2016 election season, but it has nothing to do with candidates or political parties. It is a handbook every voter should have to understand why the polling booth transcends politics. This is an easy-to-read guide to discover why we call ourselves constitutionalists and not just conservatives. Just from reading it for the first time (it’s a book worth perusing regularly), I have a better understanding of the logical reasoning behind the writings of the Founding Fathers and a deeper appreciation for their gifted vision of a United States of America. How to Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is powerful ammunition for patriots on the front lines in the fight for liberty.”—Peter Gemma, conservative writer; veteran political activist
 
“As an educator, I am concerned that the next generation be able to understand the wisdom in our country’s brilliant founding documents. After reading Mr. Skousen’s new book, How to Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, I believe a very useful, simple, and innovative way to understand that system is here. Now, anyone can take those documents and, following the outline in this text, unravel the plain meaning. How they came about; how they are laid out; unfamiliar terms are clearly explained; short historical context; tests to check for understanding—it’s all there. I recommend this small volume for individuals and for school districts. With its simple layout, a teacher could easily use it as part of a unit on our nation’s founding.”—Ivan Brown, Chairman of the Constitution Party of Arizona
 
“How to Read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence by Paul B. Skousen makes our nation’s founding documents easier to read and remember. This book can arm the reader with understanding and patriotic vigilance to protect our nation and allow it to continue to stand as a beacon to the world. I recommend this book to any and all who are patriotic and freedom loving. It is one tool that can help us defend our homes, our families, our beliefs, and our ability to live safely, securely, and happily.”—AML Review


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