About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks at the 12th annual State of the Constitution Panel: "For Us, By Us: America's Trust In & Expectations of the Constitution"

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
September 21, 2018

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m glad you could be with us, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through YouTube.

Tonight’s program—“For Us, By Us: America's Trust In & Expectations of, The Constitution”—is presented in partnership with the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier, and we thank them for their support.

Before we hear from tonight’s guests, I’d like to let you know about two other programs coming up later this month.

On Friday, September 21, at 5 o’clock, we’ll host a Nixon Legacy Forum panel discussion on the topic “The Greatest Comeback: Richard Nixon and the 1968 Election.”

Then on Thursday, September 27, at 7 p.m., we present “Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past.” We’ll bring together a group of top scholars to explain the “Hamilton phenomenon” and explore its connection to the understanding of American History.

Check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with 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. Check out their website— archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about them and join online.

More than a million people a year come through the National Archives Museum to see the Constitution—and the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights—and I would hazard a guess that such sense of personal connection to a national constitution is uniquely American.

We even have a national day of recognition to honor the birth of our national government. Each year we celebrate Constitution Day on September 17—the date that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the U.S. Constitution in 1787. It’s long been a tradition at the National Archives to mark this anniversary with public activities, like yesterday’s naturalization ceremony for new citizens, family days, lectures, and programs like this evening’s panel discussion.

I’m eager to hear what our panelists have to say about how Americans today relate to the Constitution, so let’s welcome to the stage Kat Imhoff, the President and CEO of the Montpelier Foundation, to get us started.

Kat oversees all aspects of The Montpelier Foundation, including the management of the historic house and grounds, its education and museum programs, and the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution. Before joining Montpelier, she was the State Director for the Nature Conservancy in Montana.

She served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Kat Imhoff.