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American Scripture-Book Review



American Scripture-Book Review

Pauline Maier in her book “American Scripture,” takes his audience through the journey of independence[1]. The book concentrates of Declaration and the importance of it to all Americans. Like majority of all the countries that were colonized at one point in time, America got its independence through the arms way. Therefore, the Declaration became its national identity as well as the foundation of its moral fabric. From a young age to adult life and latter to old-age, Americans hold the Declaration with a lot of respect and admiration. It is a symbol that represents who they are and where they came from and where they are going.  Pauline Maier takes her readers from the day the Declaration was born to the route of independence, which was a torturous struggle, and finally to the time the Declaration was sanctified.

In “American Scripture,” Maier describes the way Second Continental Congress was transformed into a national government. The Second Continental Congress was involved with drafting various petitions, declarations, and state papers that were issued to different audiences. The audiences were expected to respond to them and help in shaping the public opinion.  This was a remarkable step in the journey of independence and it played a vital role not only in acquiring independence but also in passing laws and legislatures that are still used today. The transformation of Second Continental Congress into a national government created the political landscape that was needed to see Americans achieve their independence. The colonists ceded more power than they would have wanted[2]. They ceded more power and this only served to strengthen the Americans struggle for independence. The terms of political debate were also shifted and the Congress now held the ace card. The Congress was now involved in making decisive decisions pertaining to the country. According to Maier Congress worked hard to keep pace with its delegates’ understanding of gradual development. It did not lag behind of forge beyond which helped it to keep in touch with public opinion. She shows that the people were ready to debate and endorse different political and constitution options.American Scripture-Book Review

For instance, in chapter II “The other declarations of independence” Maier transcends through constitutional and scholarly paradigms for the affirmation in English constitutional and political history focused on the declaration rights of 1689[3]. She then proceeds to the formal and informal affirmations, and directives to the congress by different American groups varying from county, town, and provincial meetings. In the instructions, they were more than willing to cut their ties with their colonialists in order to uphold independence. To Maier, there were different documents that were written with the same aim of achieving independence. These documents worked in different ways to strengthen the Declaration to make it the great document that we have today. If these other documents and series were not present then it would have been difficult to come up with the Declaration.

In most writings that describe the Declaration of Independence, some details miss, such as, local resolutions. These details are highlighted and discussed in Maier’s book, which sets it apart from other books that talk about the same topic-Declaration of Independence. The voice of local people is made clear in the book and their role in fighting for independence does not go unnoticed. Thus, she does the work of a detective in revealing the source of vital ideas and phrases that are contained in her book, “American Scripture,”. She also describes how drafting the Declaration was a tedious task and at one point, group-editing became too much for Thomas Jefferson to bear.
“American Scripture” describes in great depth what transpired after signing the Declaration. Despite the wide celebrations that it received through the country, it was largely forgotten and only became used when the need to silence some political voices arose. She goes ahead to mention how Abraham Lincoln did excellent work to ensure it remained a living force to be respected by all people[4]. Maier feels that holding the Declaration like what people usually do with holy books is betraying its purpose. The forefathers who were involved in its creation did not indent for it to be used like a holy book but gave it power to govern the country. It should be used as a litmus paper for gauging those leaders who are fit to govern.American Scripture-Book Review

In her book, Maier articulates that the ideas and language that Jefferson used was not exceptional contrary to how it is perceived today[5]. Most people regard Declaration as having exceptional language and ideas but Maier does a great job in pointing out that the language used was not out of this world as it was commonly used during that period. She confirms that the sentiments that Jefferson excellently articulated were conventional among Americans of his time. Therefore, people should be keener when reading the Declaration and know at the back of their mind that the whole document was drafted from many people. Even if it was not written by all Americans, they all contributed in its writing in one way or another. The ideas and sentiments in the book were common during that time and used across the country.


“American Scripture By Pauline Maier | Penguinrandomhouse.Com: Books”. 2019. Penguinrandomhouse.Com

Benham, Kristina. 2013. “Religious Ideas of the Declaration of Independence”.

Harreter, James A., David Brody, and Lynn Dumenil. 2015. “American History”.

Hieke, Paul. 2014. “American Independence And The Myth Of The Founding Fathers”. In The Myths That Made America: An Introduction To American Studies

Maier, Pauline. 1999. American Scripture. London: Pimlico.

[1] American Scripture By Pauline Maier | Penguinrandomhouse.Com: Books”. 2019. Penguinrandomhouse.Com

[2] Benham, Kristina. 2013. “Religious Ideas of the Declaration of Independence

[3] Benham, Kristina. 2013. “Religious Ideas of the Declaration of Independence

[4] Harreter, James A., David Brody, and Lynn Dumenil. 2015. “American History”.

[5] Maier, Pauline. 1999. American Scripture. London: Pimlico.