Thursday, April 26, 2007

"The Declaration of Independence"

David Armitage is Professor of History at Harvard University.

He applied the "page 69 test" to his most recent book, The Declaration of Independence: A Global History, and reported the following:
The Declaration of Independence: A Global History takes a very familiar document, the American Declaration of 1776, and asks three less familiar questions about it: What were the international pressures that forced a Declaration in 1776? What did people outside the United States make of it after 1776? And what impact has it had on other declarations of independence around the world since 1776?

Pg. 69 is right at the heart of this short book. It moves from answering the first question to tackling the second. It notes that major changes in ideas about international relations and international law were taking place right around 1776 -- indeed, the very word "international" was only coined in 1780 -- and that these changes decisively shaped the way the Declaration was read at the time. It also starts telling how quickly the Declaration travelled from America to Europe in the summer of 1776: news of independence had reached Warsaw barely two months after July 4th. The page therefore nicely illustrates up two major concerns of the book: to show that this very American document was in fact quite cosmopolitan, and to follow its remarkable fortunes outside America over the past two centuries.
Learn more about The Declaration of Independence: A Global History and read an excerpt.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue