Some truly sad news today via History News Network. Pauline Maier, author of American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence (1998) and one of the nation’s most lauded historians of the American Revolution, died Monday of lung cancer, according to an HNN article. She was 75.
Maier was among a group of historians who turned the tide of historiography about the American Revolution by emphasizing the
unique political achievements of the independence movement and the political culture it created. She represented a younger generation of historians who rejected the New Left and Progressive schools of thought, examining how radical English libertarian thought changed American political beliefs and how wide-spread acceptance of natural rights and individual liberty distinctively altered politics, economics, and society. Maier’s thoughts on these subjects deeply influenced my own perspective as a historian, as the pages of this Web site often attest.
Not only was I influenced by her research, which was always written in clear and interesting prose all-too-uncommon in the academic world, but her work also helped me gain as an American history teacher. She deeply respected secondary and college educators like me who labor in the trenches day after day so students can learn about (and learn to guard) the democratic principles of this nation. I have used curriculum she created with great success while teaching the American Studies courses that I teach. Her death is a great loss to scholarship and the intellectual marketplace of the contemporary United States. RIP.