American Soul: The Contested Legacy of the Declaration of Independence

American Soul: The Contested Legacy of the Declaration of Independence


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The Declaration of Independence has been the subject of competing interpretations since its adoption by the Continental Congress on the Fourth of July 1776, and for nearly two and a half centuries the political ideas expressed in its preamble have inspired reform movements both at home and abroad. From the early debates on the nature of the American Republic to abolitionism, progressivism, the civil rights movement, and contemporary debates about American economic and foreign policy, the Declaration is, as it has been, a vibrant and dynamic, though perennially disputed, source of American ideals.

The present volume brings together a variety of speeches and writings related to the contested meaning and legacy of the Declaration of Independence, and the various documents assembled together demonstrate how competing interpretations of the Declaration have shaped, and been shaped by, political conflict in America. The Declaration is perhaps our "national soul," as Charles Sumner wrote in 1860, but Americans have rarely spoken of it with one voice. American Soul: The Contested Legacy of the Declaration of Independence paints, with broad strokes, a picture of the debates that have shaped a nation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442211476
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 03/15/2015
Edition description: Updated
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Justin Dyer is associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri.

Table of Contents

Part I: The Declaration and the American Founding
Chapter 1: Continental Congress, The Declaration of Independence (1776)
Chapter 2: Thomas Jefferson, Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776)
Chapter 3: John Adams, Letters to Abigail (1776)
Chapter 4: Jeremy Bentham, A Short Review of the Declaration (1826)
Chapter 5: Thomas Jefferson, The American Mind (1826)
Chapter 6: James Wilson, Popular Sovereignty (1787)
Chapter 7: Daniel Webster, Keeping the Revolution (1802:
Chapter 8: Lemuel Shaw, The American and French Revolutions (1815)
Chapter 9: John Quincy Adams, American Principles (1821)
Chapter 10: Thomas Jefferson, Fifty Years Later (1826)
Chapter 11: William Wirt, The Lives and Characters of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (1826)
Part II: The Declaration in a House Divided
Chapter 12: "A Great Number of Blackes," Petition for Freedom (1777)
Chapter 13: Luther Martin, The Constitution and Slavery (1788)
Chapter 14: William Lloyd Garrison, Republican Consistency! (1838)
Chapter 15: John Quincy Adams, Amistad Argument (1841)
Chapter 16: John C. Calhoun, The Cause of the Present Crisis (1848)
Chapter 17: Frederick Douglass, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? (1852)
Chapter 18: Republican National Convention, Party Platform (1856)
Chapter 19: Chief Justice Roger Taney, The Dred Scott Decision (1857)
Chapter 20: Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, Debate on the Dred Scott Decision (1858)
Chapter 21: Alexander Stephens, The Chief Cornerstone (1861)
Chapter 22: Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address (1863)
Chapter 23: United States Congress, Reconstructing America (1864-1870)
Part III: The Declaration in the Modern World
Chapter 24: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, Seneca Falls Declaration (1848)
Chapter 25: National Woman Suffrage Association, Declaration of the Rights of Women (1876)
Chapter 26: Carrie Chapmen Catt, The Inevitability of Women's Suffrage (1917)
Chapter 27: Woodrow Wilson, What is Progress? (1912)
Chapter 28: Calvin Coolidge, Speech on the Fourth of July (1926)
Chapter 29: Franklin Roosevelt, Commonwealth Club Address (1932)
Chapter 30: Thurgood Marshall, Speech at the Bicentennial (1987)
Chapter 31: Ronald Reagan, The Sanctity of Human Life (1984)
Chapter 32: George W. Bush, America's Work in the World (2003)
Chapter 33: Barack Obama, A More Perfect Union (2008)

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