A More Perfect Union (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
The bicentennial of the drafting of the United States Constitution has brought forth numerous important books about the backgrounds and history of this document central to the nature and very existence of this country. Noteworthy among these are, in addition to William Peters’ work, Forrest McDonald’s Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution (1985) and Michael Kammen’s A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture (1986). A number of other studies, such as Leonard W. Levy’s The Establishment Clause: Religion and the First Amendment (1986), concentrate on specific aspects of this document. Yet the two hundredth anniversary of the Constitution seems to have elicited far less excitement, both within the publishing industry and among the public, than that of the Declaration of Independence eleven years earlier.
Indeed, the Constitution always has taken second place to the Declaration in the imagination of Americans. Fireworks, parades, and speeches mark July 4; September 17 passes unnoticed. The general impression suggests that the break from Britain created a new nation, and the Constitution is merely an owner’s manual indicating how the country is to operate.
Yet as Peters clearly demonstrates, the Declaration of Independence and the successful Revolutionary War that followed did not in fact lead directly to the creation of a single, united country. Rather,...
(The entire section is 1820 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Booklist. LXXXIII, January 1, 1987, p. 671.
Chicago Tribune. August 11, 1987, V, p. 3.
Kirkus Reviews. LV, February 1, 1987, p. 209.
Library Journal. CXII, March 15, 1987, p. 76.
The New Republic. CXCVI, June 29, 1987, p. 28.
The New York Times Book Review. XCII, March 15, 1987, p. 3.
School Library Journal. XXXIV, October, 1987, p. 148.
Time. CXXX, July 6, 1987, p. 79.
The Washington Post Book World. XVII, May 17, 1987, p. 13.
(The entire section is 52 words.)