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Pauline Maier, 1938-2013

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Maier, the deeply accomplished author of the stunningly good Ratification, recently passed away. Her work could be the role model for any scholar. R.I.P.

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  • I am very sorry to hear that. I have one of her books on my shelf somewhere, from when I was dipping into US history. I will definitely get a copy of “Ratification.” It looks very interesting.

    • drkrick

      It’s a terrific read about a fascinating process. The C-Span Book TV segment is also good if it turns back up on the schedule. Sorry to hear the news.

  • Warren Terra

    Somehow I thought she was decades younger. I remember the radio interviews when her book on the declaration of independence came out, perhaps 15 years ago; she sounded like an energetic young scholar just starting their career.

  • Well, maybe now I will take her books off the shelf and read them — seems to be how it goes half the time ….

    • Mark Field

      You really should read her. She’s terrific.

      • Thanks for the nod, Mark! Just three more of these to finish, and I’ll pick up Ratification, or From Resistance to Revolution … and the first Trevelyan volume on England Under Queen Anne … and the second installment in that New Penguin History of France …

        — A thread inviting LGM readers to say what they’ve been reading/watching would surely be interesting. I mean, unless I double-post the above.

        • Mark Field

          Hey, if you’d stop trying to re-read the Phenomenology, you’d have time for the real stuff. :)

      • Joe

        American Scripture was good, but if Anderson is short on time, he can cheat and read Joseph Ellis’ new book on Revolutionary Summer — she read a draft, so it is kinda the same.

  • Frank Somatra

    Ratification was quite excellent. It’s almost hard to remember this far out, but apparently there was actually serious dissent at the time of the Constitution’s ratification, and not over clauses we would imagine. Maier informed me that the Elections Clause was a big one (“The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators”). It’s hardly ever discussed today.

    • Joe

      though it was the subject of a fairly important recent Supreme Court case from Arizona that might have been lost given the later Shelby ruling.

  • JLR

    I’m sorry to hear that. She was the chair of the History Department at MIT when I was there as an undergrad in the early nineties, and taught the senior seminar when I took it. She was a terrific, engaging teacher, and she had an amazing set of connections, much to our benefit. I remember having both Fred Anderson and Natalie Zemon Davis as guests in our class, and I’m sure there were a couple others that I’m forgetting. I’ve always remembered her fondly and will continue to do so.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      In addition to being a terrific scholar (and writer), she was by all accounts a warm and wonderful person. I only met her very briefly after she gave a (typically engaging and brilliant) keynote address at a conference several years ago. But everyone I know who knew her better than I also has nothing but good things to say about her. Truly a loss for the profession. A model scholar and teacher.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Here‘s a nice remembrance of Maier from David Sehat over on the U.S. Intellectual History Blog.

  • Matt McKeon

    I took part in a teaching workshop at the Massachusetts Historical Society a couple of year ago and she met with our group. We all got copies of “Ratification” and I’ll echo the praise it received. She was a very engaging speaker and teacher, nice sense of humor, I’ll sorry to hear this news.

    In Massachusetts, a major controversy was the attitude of the Constitution to an established church: we had one in Massachusetts and didn’t want to dis establish it.

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