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Stephen Puleo, noted historian and best selling author of books dear to the hearts of North Enders, like Dark Tide, the Great Flood of 1919 and The Boston Italians gave a talk the other day sponsored by the Friends of the North End Library.

Steve’s talk about his latest book, American Treasures, is the story of the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution during contentious times and the later efforts of the government to safeguard these founding documents as the threat of World War II loomed. He described these documents as the crown jewels of the United States. Steve’s comprehensive storytelling style brought history to life.

People today for the most part take these founding documents for granted. Steve made the point that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were essentially signing their own death warrants if the Revolutionary War had been lost. The Constitution was almost not approved as small states and large states arrived at an impasse over representation.

Steve also spent time talking about the Gettysburg Address, another document safely ensconced at Fort Knox during World War II, while putting to rest the myth that President Lincoln wrote it on the train on the way to Gettysburg. Steve’s description of the battlefield, including the many coffins yet to be buried, added a powerful image to President Lincoln’s moving speech.

Another highlight of the talk was the question and answer period at the end. Steve gave generously of his time. His answers to a wide variety of questions revealed his depth of historical knowledge and his love of history.

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