After a month of narrowing down our field of 64 primary sources on early American history, the results for March Madness are in!
The Declaration of Independence beat Franklin’s Autobiography, 59% to 41%.
Approximately 1,000 votes were cast throughout the duration of March Madness. Franklin put up a strong fight, but the Declaration took the lead early on and retained it throughout the course of voting. Perhaps, as Ken Owen suggested yesterday, political history really is due for a comeback.
I’m a Franklin fan, myself, but had a harder time than expected making a final decision after teaching a seminar in which we read the Declaration and the Haitian Declaration of Independence out loud. There is something enduringly evocative about these documents, and especially for those of us unable to assign as much reading as we’d sometimes like, there’s a case to be made for short documents like the Declaration.
In case you’re looking for more writing about the declaration, Joe Adelman has blogged about it, Roy Rogers has discussed Pauline Maier’s book on it, and the JuntoCast has devoted a whole episode to it. Please weigh in in our comments section to talk about how you use the document, or to speculate about the significance of the DoI winning March Madness.
Thanks very much to everyone who participated in this year’s tournament. We now return you to our regularly-scheduled programming.
I have appreciated all of the conversations about the Declaration of Independence, however, I really enjoyed reading Danielle Allen’s Our Declaration. She not only places the document in historical context, but she takes her readers through a line-by-line reading of the document. I have a whole new appreciation for the Declaration and I am glad it won the 2015 Junto March Madness.
As I just told my students, who are all working on research topics related to Benjamin Franklin, even though BF lost, he still won because of his central role in the creation of the Declaration of Independence.
In other words, just as in the Autobiography, even the stories about Franklin losing are really about how awesome he was.
I didn’t vote for the Declaration in any round. It’s a marvelously interesting document. I don’t think it deserves its reputation as a linchpin of the Revolution. The die was cast long before the Declaration was adopted. I dare to suggest that event was procedural, not transformative.
Re the Haitian Declaration — the Portsmouth African Burying Ground Memorial Park, on the site of an 18th century re-discovered graveyard, includes citations from the Petition for Freedom presented to the NH Legislature in 1779 by a group of Africans enslaved in Portsmouth households including William Moffatt, signer of the Declaration of Independence. The memorial opens on May 23 after a community-wide $1.2 million fund-raising effort. More at http://www.africanburyinggroundnh.org
William WHIPPLE — not Moffatt. Sorry. Same house.