History Buzz October 13, 2011: Pauline Maier Constitution worth study

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

HISTORIANS’ SPOTTED

Source: Jackson Sun, 10-13-11

Pauline Maier

Massachusetts Institute of Technology history professor and author of “American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence,” Pauline Maier reminded students from all over West Tennessee that the U.S. Constitution is about the rights of its people.

“(The Constitution) is a result of direct ratification by the sovereign people,” she said. “That alone is extraordinary. It has lasted so long. How many constitutions have other countries written? How long has each one lasted?”

Maier spoke in the 15th annual lecture of the Carls-Schwerdfeger History Lecture Series, held Tuesday night in Union University’s G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel. The lecture was free and open to the public. About 300 people attended.

Maier is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American History at MIT. She has appeared as a commentator for American Revolutionary documentaries by PBS. Maier also has written several books and articles in historical journals such as the Journal of Interdisciplinary History. She has reviewed books for the New York Times and Washington Post.

“She is a splendid American historian,” said Union President David Dockery on Tuesday. “We are very blessed to have a historian of her caliber to speak here tonight. We are very grateful to the Carls-Schwerdfeger families.”

Maier described the time between Sept. 7, 1787, and Sept. 13, 1788, as a period of endless debate.

“The country had struggled so hard to hold together,” Maier said. “Most controversial of all, the (Constitutional) Convention met in secret. They introduced the Constitution without having public feedback. It was, ‘Take it or leave it.'”

“(1787-1788) was almost a year of extraordinary debate and tumult,” she continued. “The Convention adjourned on Sept. 17. The Constitution was ratified on Sept. 13, 1788. Americans then read the Constitution. They knew it inside and out. They fought about it.”

Maier said many Americans today are unfamiliar with the Constitution.

“Most adult Americans have not read the Constitution,” she said. “At least, not since high school. We have to take it seriously, and it should be an integral part of our educational system.”

Maier said she hopes the American people will realize the worth of their Constitution.

“The fact is that the Constitution is worth understanding and arguing about,” she said. “You only argue about things you care about. We should be concerned about it.”

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