Download e-book for kindle: American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution by Garrett Epps

By Garrett Epps

ISBN-10: 0199974748

ISBN-13: 9780199974740

In 1987, E.L. Doctorow celebrated the Constitution's bicentennial through analyzing it. "It is 5 thousand phrases lengthy yet reads like fifty thousand," he acknowledged. extraordinary criminal student Garrett Epps--himself an award-winning novelist--disagrees. it really 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, not less than irony," he writes. american citizens could venerate the structure, "but all too seldom is it read."

In American Epic, Epps takes us via a whole interpreting of the Constitution--even the "boring" parts--to in attaining an appreciation of its energy and a holistic figuring out of what it says. during this ebook he seeks to not offer a definitive interpretation, yet to hear the language and contemplate its that means. He attracts on 4 modes of examining: 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 somebody . . . 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 area 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 ideas for presidential appointment of officials, for instance, yet no longer elimination. should still the Senate approve every one firing? Can it withdraw its "advice and consent" and strength a resignation? And he demanding situations himself, as obvious in his brilliant dialogue of the safeguard of Marriage Act (DOMA) in gentle of Article four, which orders states to provide "full religion and credits" to the acts of different states.

Wry, unique, and stunning, American Epic is a scholarly and literary travel de strength.

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

Sample text

There was no limitation of this power; Congress can (as we now take for granted) maintain an army and a navy in time of peace as well as of war.  . in time of peace” except for a citizen militia. Standing armies were anathema to eighteenth-century republicans, seen as agents of the Crown against the people. Under the Constitution, however, Congress could raise, maintain, and govern an army in peacetime, so long as its appropriation of funds to do so did not extend for more than two years at a time.

Whatever it is, it is not a statement of fact; and whatever else it is, it is also a distraction. Many Americans remember nothing of the Constitution’s Preamble but those words. They burst into the mind; they tell us we are reading no ordinary document, indeed not even an ordinary law. We are being addressed by ourselves, looking into our own faces; we are being welcomed to a party where we are not only honored guests but also hosts. Who remembers what is said at a party? Often we don’t even remember the occasion—was it a birthday, a wedding?

As a jury of sorts, the Senate may only decide whether the official is guilty of the offenses the House has charged; no matter what emerges during an impeachment trial, it cannot add new charges. Senators sitting to hear articles of impeachment are required to take a special oath, emphasizing that they are acting in a judicial capacity. Two-thirds of the senators present must vote “aye” for any impeachment to be sustained. When 14 American Epic the Senate sustains the House, it can assess only two penalties: removal from office and disqualification to hold any federal office again.

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

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