National Archives News

Ferriero to Serve on Semiquincentennial Commission

By Kerri Lawrence  |  National Archives News

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2018 — The Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, will play a key role in helping the nation celebrate its 250th anniversary.  

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David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States

Ferriero is one of nine Federal Government officials who are tasked with facilitating national plans to observe and commemorate the occasion along with eight members of Congress and 16 private citizens.

Congress established the United States Semiquincentennial Commission under Public Law 114-196, signed by the President on July 22, 2016. The United States Semiquincentennial Commission Act of July 2016 charges the commission with developing a report of recommendations to the President and the Congress within two years of formation, according to the law.  

The Commission will meet at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, later this month to solicit ideas for the 250th anniversary.

According to the act, Independence Hall was chosen “to honor the historical significance of the building as the site of deliberations and adoption of both the United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution.”

“It is an honor to serve as part of this commission,” Ferriero said. “This body will play a central role in shaping the anniversary narrative on a national level.” Commission members will solicit ideas about how to mark the anniversary nationally, at the state level, and within localities. The team will then develop a plan and submit recommendations for the consideration of the President and Congress, as well as assist with the execution of the approved itinerary.

“Each year, the National Archives, and our Presidential Libraries, mark the July 4th anniversary of our nation’s founding with a full-day celebration,” Ferriero said. The festivities traditionally include special events and exhibits, patriotic music, a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence by historical reenactors, and family activities and entertainment for all ages.

“The 250th anniversary will mark a very special occasion in our nation’s history; It’s truly a great honor to be a part of the planning for this grand celebration,” Ferriero added.  

Besides Ferriero, Commission members include U. S. Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and U. S Representatives Robert Aderholt of Alabama, Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, Joseph Crowley of New York and Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania.  Private citizens appointed to the Commission will include David L. Cohen of Pennsylvania, Val Crofts of Wisconsin, Daniel M. DiLella (chairperson) of Pennsylvania, Cathy Gillespie of Virginia, Noah Griffin of California, Amy Gutmann of Pennsylvania, Grant Hill of Florida, Andrew Hohns of Pennsylvania, Jim Koch of Massachusetts, Lucas Morel of Virginia, Wilfred M. McClay of Oklahoma, Rosie Rios of Maryland, James L. Swanson of Washington, DC, Richard Trumka of Maryland, Tom Walker of Alabama, and Lynn Forney Young of Texas.  Ex officio members of the Commission will include Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution David Skorton, and the presiding officer of the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Bipartisan members of Congress unanimously championed the legislation creating the Commission.  Co-sponsors of the law included U.S. Senators Bob Casey, Pat Toomey, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Ron Wyden and U.S. Representatives Patrick Meehan, Robert Brady, Brendan Boyle, and Ryan Costello.  

In addition to chartering the Commission, the act also mandates the creation of a time capsule “to be buried in Independence Mall, Philadelphia, on July 4, 2026; and to be unearthed on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the United States of America on July 4, 2276.”  The time capsule will include books, manuscripts, relics, and other materials relating to the United States Semiquincentennial.

NARA building image.