About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for The Years Bring Enlightenment: The Friendship and Politics of Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
July 3, 2019 

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives in Washington, DC. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us for today’s special presentation of “The Years Bring Enlightenment: The Friendship and Politics of Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson.” Whether you are in here in this room or participating through Facebook or YouTube, I’m sure you will enjoy the discussion.

This afternoon, as a sort of preview for tomorrow’s July 4th festivities, we bring you Thomas Jefferson, a leader of the Second Continental Congress, former President of the United States, and drafter of the Declaration of Independence; and Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, who is famous for her early advocacy of several causes, including women’s rights, female education, and the abolition of slavery. Today they will engage in a spirited discussion of their often-conflicting views on the events that surrounded the struggle for American independence and the establishment of the United States under the Constitution.

Our actors are Steven Edenbo and Kim Hanley, and they are members of the American Historical Theatre.

We hope that you will return tomorrow, July 4th, as we celebrate the 243rd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence with our traditional Fourth of July program.

Come early for the free T-shirt giveaway, between 8 a.m. and 9:30, and at 10 the Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony will begin.

Local Fox 5 News Anchor Allison Seymour will return as the master of ceremonies, author and journalist Cokie Roberts will give the keynote address. Then Mrs. Adams and Mr. Jefferson will be joined by General George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Private Ned Hector for a dramatic reading of the Declaration.

The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps will perform before the reading, and additional musicians will perform before and after the ceremony.

Inside the National Archives Building, we invite you to take part in an assortment of family activities between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

And of course, take advantage of the opportunity to view the original Declaration of Independence, along with the other Charters of Freedom—the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—in our Rotunda.

And now without further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce to you—Mrs. Abigail Adams and Mr. Thomas Jefferson.