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Press Release
December 15, 2003


The National Archives Announces Results of "The People's Vote"

Washington, D.C. ... Nearly forty thousand Americans cast more than 300,000 votes as part of a national initiative titled: "The People's Vote: 100 Documents that Shaped America," cosponsored by the National Archives, National History Day, and U.S. News & World Report. The results of the vote were announced in a ceremony in the National Archives Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom at 9 A.M. on Monday December 15, Bill of Rights Day.

The following is a list of the ten documents that received the most votes and the percentage of votes each received:

  • The Declaration of Independence 75.9%
  • The U.S. Constitution 69.3%
  • The Bill of Rights 67.9%
  • The Louisiana Purchase Treaty 34.3%
  • The Emancipation Proclamation 33.5%
  • The 19th Amendment to the Constitution 31.4%
  • The 13th Amendment to the Constitution 30.1%
  • The Gettysburg Address 25.4%
  • The Civil Rights Act 25.2%
  • The Social Security Act 20.9%

The statistics tell the story:

  • 39,075 people voted
  • 315,052 individual votes were cast
  • 26,855 people voted online, casting 195,745 ballots
  • 12,220 people voted by paper ballot, casting 119,307 ballots\
  • All geographic regions were represented
  • More votes came from the Midwest than from any other region: 8,579
  • Followed by 6,203 votes from the Northeast
  • The Southcentral had the fewest number of voters: 1,905
  • All age groups participated
  • 15,116 respondents were over 50 years old
  • The next largest group of voters (7,853) were between 18 – 34 years old
  • 23,308 males voted
  • 11,947 females voted

Note: Some voters chose not to include information relating to gender, age, or geographical region.

The paper ballot included an opportunity for voters to write in documents that were not on the list of 100. The majority of those mentioned were primarily from post-1965, the end date for the official list of 100 milestone documents. Among those documents that received multiple votes were:

  • President Reagan's "Tear down that wall" speech
  • President Bush's speech discussing the September 11 tragedy
  • Roe v Wade Supreme Court Decision
  • Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech
  • Voters' birth certificates
  • Medicare Bill

In announcing the results of The People's Vote, Archivist of the United States said, "The People's Vote is truly a unique initiative. No other project has invited Americans from all walks of life, all across the country, to voice their opinion on the documents that have shaped our history, culture, and society today. Not only did it challenge voters to really think and learn about the 100 milestone documents, but it encouraged enthusiastic debate in homes, classrooms, workplaces, and online."

Brian Duffy, Editor of U.S. News & World Report said, "It was a not only a privilege to work with the experts at the National Archives and Records Administration, but an honor to be involved in this unique effort to reacquaint so many Americans with some of the most defining moments of our nation's history."

In looking forward, National History Day Executive Director Cathy Gorn said at the ceremony, "Our challenge now is to continue this exercise in understanding democracy and citizenship. Today's announcement comes at the end of a major push to engage Americans in such practice. The People's Vote has been both educational and fun, and it is fascinating to see which documents Americans are thinking about. But this is only the beginning of the discussion. Our task now is to continue this conversation and encourage all Americans, and especially young Americans, to meet the challenge of forming "a more perfect union.'" The program titled The People's Vote: 100 Documents That Shaped America, was launched by the Archivist of the United States on September 17, 2003, Constitution Day, in collaboration with National History Day and U.S. News and World Report. It was a national challenge to engage Americans in a lively and thoughtful debate about which documents in American history are the most influential. The People's Vote invited Americans to vote for 10 items from the list of 100 milestone documents chosen by historians and the National Archives, or to write in their favorites. Thousands of Americans of all ages, from across the entire United States answered the challenge.

The vote is part of a larger project created by the National Archives and National History Day in collaboration with USA Freedom Corps titled Our Documents: A National Initiative on American History, Civics and Service. The purpose of Our Documents is to provide programs like The People's Vote to engage Americans in a better understanding of the documents that shaped our country.

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For press information contact The National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-501-5526; Mark Robinson at National History Day at 301-314-9739; or Steve McCarthy, U.S. News & World Report at 212-916-7404.

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