Download PDF by Garrett Epps: American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution

By Garrett Epps

ISBN-10: 0199974748

ISBN-13: 9780199974740

In 1987, E.L. Doctorow celebrated the Constitution's bicentennial by way of interpreting it. "It is 5 thousand phrases lengthy yet reads like fifty thousand," he stated. unique felony student Garrett Epps--himself an award-winning novelist--disagrees. it is approximately 7,500 phrases. And Doctorow "missed a great deal of excessive rhetoric, many literary tropes, or even a hint of, if no longer wit, at the least irony," he writes. americans could venerate the structure, "but all too seldom is it read."

In American Epic, Epps takes us via an entire examining of the Constitution--even the "boring" parts--to in attaining an appreciation of its energy and a holistic knowing of what it says. during this booklet he seeks to not offer a definitive interpretation, yet to hear the language and examine its that means. He attracts on 4 modes of analyzing: scriptural, criminal, lyric, and epic. The Constitution's first 3 phrases, for instance, sound spiritual--but Epps reveals them to be extra aspirational than prayer-like. "Prayers are addressed to anyone . . . both a mundane king or a divine lord, and nice care is taken to call the addressee. . . . This does the opposite. The speaker is 'the people,' the phrases addressed to the realm at large." He turns the second one modification right into a poem to light up its ambiguity. He notices oddities and omissions. The structure lays out principles for presidential appointment of officials, for instance, yet no longer removing. should still the Senate approve each one firing? Can it withdraw its "advice and consent" and strength a resignation? And he demanding situations himself, as obvious in his mind-blowing dialogue of the security of Marriage Act (DOMA) in mild of Article four, which orders states to offer "full religion and credits" to the acts of different states.

Wry, unique, and unbelievable, American Epic is a scholarly and literary journey de strength.

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Additional resources for American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution

Sample text

As every American schoolchild learns, the authors were a group of some fifty-five men, distinguished in the new nation by their wealth and prominence, meeting in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia between May 25 and September 17, 1787. The “United States” already existed as a society and an independent country. In fact, the Convention was held in the eleventh year of Independence, the sixth since Britain had recognized American freedom as an accomplished fact. The Convention assembled under conditions of strictest secrecy.

If so, might they lie in other branches? Could they be powers granted to no legislative body? That is one reading— powers that in the United States no government may have. If so, the Constitution offers little hint what they are (remember that at this point there was no Bill of Rights). The conclusion must depend on what each reader considers the implication of the words: are they words of limitation, or of empowerment? The Constitution does not pause—it moves forward to the internal organization of Congress.

A member offered a patronage plum must leave office to take it, and could not do so if he had voted to create it or enrich its holder. Although in making and administering the laws Congress and the executive might clash or cooperate, each tub of the new system would have to rest on its own bottom. Section Seven. A generation of viewers has grown up with the “Schoolhouse Rock” version of Section Seven, which describes how a bill becomes a law. Once again, the branches are not separated; in fact, the legislative process entangles them in an intricate dance.

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American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution by Garrett Epps


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