Press/Journalists

Press Release
January 22, 2008

National Archives Exhibition “A New World Is At Hand”

New exhibition highlights include documents from Jefferson and Kennedy

Washington, DC…The National Archives’ exhibition, The Charters of Freedom—“A New World is at Hand,” which surrounds the centerpiece cases holding the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, is featuring new treasures from the National Archives vaults. The Charters of Freedom—“A New World is at Hand” chronicles the creation of the Charters of Freedom in the 18th century, and the impact of the Charters on the course of history in the United States and around the world. The light-sensitive nature of original documents necessitates regular rotation, and affords the opportunity to view a changing array of historical treasures.

Some new highlights, on display through May, 2008, include:

  • Credentials of Virginia delegates to the Continental Congress, including Thomas Jefferson, August 1775.
  • The first printed draft of the Constitution, August 6, 1787.
  • President Thomas Jefferson's sixth annual message to Congress, including remarks about the Lewis and Clark expedition, 1806.
  • Documents regarding the military service of Prince Crosley, a former slave, who fought in the Revolutionary War to gain his freedom, 1838.
  • Protest from Susan B. Anthony and others urging Congress to exempt women from paying Federal taxes, 1873. (Without the right to vote for members of Congress, they argued, they should be exempt from taxation for national purposes.)
  • Letter from Levi P. Morton, U.S. Minister to France, to Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Secretary of State, regarding the formal transfer of the Statue of Liberty, June 28, 1884.
  • President John F. Kennedy's reading copy of his Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, July 4, 1962.

Background

The documents in the first half of the exhibition reflect the force of the ideas that fuelled the American Revolution and gave birth to the nation. They depict dramatic, fast-moving events and present glimpses of leaders who were both courageous and politically shrewd. Pursuing a grand experiment in self-government, and with great hopes for the future, the nation’s founders produced a plan of government that stands today as the longest-lasting written, national constitution in the world. The second half of the exhibition marks several milestones in the American experiment over the last two and a quarter centuries, reflecting both its strengths, as well as its vulnerabilities.

Please note: Improvements are being made in February, 2008, to the cases that hold the United States Constitution. The original Constitution will not be on display for most of the month, but the Rotunda will remain open so visitors can see the original Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, along with these other milestone documents.

The National Archives is located on the National Mall at Constitution Ave. and 7th Street, NW, and is fully accessible. Winter hours (through March 14) are 10 AM – 5:30 PM daily.

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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.

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