About the National Archives

Archivist welcome for State of the Constitution Lecture

Thursday, September 17, 2015
McGowan Theatre, Archives I

Who is the Archivist?

David S. Ferriero

David S. Ferriero The Archivist of the United States is the head of our agency, appointed by the President of the United States.

The AOTUS Blog
What's an Archivist?

Good evening. I'm David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. Welcome to the ninth annual State of the Constitution Lecture at the National Archives, presented in partnership with the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier. We're very happy you've come tonight, whether you're here in the William G. McGowan Theater or joining us through YouTube.

Before we get to tonight's program on "The Young Madisons: Why a New Generation Is Standing Up for the Constitution," I'd like to tell you about two programs coming up on September 30.

At noon that day, Professor Michael S. Paulsen will be here to discuss his book The Constitution: An Introduction, which lays out the Constitution's history and meaning in clear, accessible terms. A book signing will follow the program.

At 7 o'clock in the evening, we will welcome back Tim Gunn, of Project Runway fame, to lead a discussion of 1920s fashion. He will be joined by John Dunn, fashion director for HBO's Boardwalk Empire, and Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. A 1920s fashion show will follow the conversation.

To learn more about these and all of our programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events, in print or online. There are copies in the lobby—along with a sign- up sheet so you can receive it by regular mail or email. You'll also find brochures about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved in the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

Constitution Day has special meaning for us at the National Archives. In the Rotunda upstairs, which was designed to showcase the founding documents of our nation, the four pages of the United States Constitution hold center stage.

Its central place there mirrors the central place the document has in our nation. When new citizens swear allegiance to the United States, the core promise in the oath is to protect and defend the Constitution.

This morning, in a moving ceremony that I look forward to every year, we welcomed 30 new U.S. citizens from 28 countries. For us spectators, hearing the words of the oath reminds us of the strength and continuity of our nation's governing framework.

As we'll hear tonight, concern for constitutional issues cuts across generational lines. We're pleased to be part of this discussion of "The Young Madisons" with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Congressman Will Hurd, Mary Katharine Ham, and Steven Olikara.

Now I'd like to introduce Douglas Smith, the Vice President of the Montpelier Foundation, which oversees the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at Montpelier.

He is a Fellow of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia and is the former Chairman of the Board of Heifer International. He also serves on the board of James Madison University's School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and Mary Washington University's Center for Honor, Leadership & Service.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Douglas Smith.