New Selection of Documents to be Installed in National Archives Exhibition. A New World is at Hand
Press Release · Monday, August 8, 2005

Press Release
August 8, 2005

New Selection of Documents to be Installed in National Archives Exhibition
"A New World is at Hand"

Washington, D.C. . . Beginning September 9, 2005, one-third of the exhibit content in The Charters of Freedom—"A New World Is at Hand" will be new. This exhibition surrounds the permanent display of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights—known collectively as the Charters of Freedom—in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. It chronicles the creation of the Charters in the 18th century, and the impact they have had on the course of history in the United States and around the world. The selection of documents in this exhibition is periodically changed in the interest of the long-term preservation of the documents.

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 new documents to be installed in this portion of the exhibion include the following:

  • Petition from the New York Assembly to King George III, March 25, 1775.

New York Assembly delegates set forth their grievances, while assuring the King that the American protests were the "disorderly Struggle of Liberty, not the licentious Efforts of Independence."

  • Journal of the Continental Congress, open to the entry for May 10, 1775, the opening date of the Second Continental Congress.

George Washington, John Adams, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin- and other great heroes of the American Revolution-are listed as attending the first day of the Second Continental Congress.

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. The new documents installed in this portion of the exhibition include:

  • President Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, December 8, 1863.

Fifteen months before the end of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued this Proclamation in a spirit of healing and reconciliation that he believed would best ensure the nation’s preservation and progress.

  • Georgia's ratification of theThirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, December 6, 1865.

When Georgia became the twenty-seventh state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, it became part of the Constitution.

  • Draft of President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, delivered January 20, 1961.

Widely considered to be one of the most effective and inspiring inaugural addresses of any American President, President Kennedy invoked the nation’s founding principles of liberty as he called on the nation to conquer the greatest challenges of the 20th century-"tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."

Other highlights of the exhibition include the following:

  • The original, engrossed Articles of Confederation, ratified March 1, 1781, often described as this nation’s first constitution;
  • George Washington’s own working copy of an early draft of the Constitution, showing his handwritten annotations made during the Constitutional Convention in 1787;
  • Statement of Jehu Grant (1836), who fled slavery to fight in the Revolutionary War;
  • William Marbury’s affidavit, from the landmark Supreme Court case, Marbury v. Madison of 1803 that established one of the cornerstones of the American constitutional system–judicial review;
  • The Louisiana Purchase Treaty, 1803, the largest single land acquisition in U.S. history; and the
  • Order to arrest Susan B. Anthony’s for voting in the election of 1872.

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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at: 202-501-5526.


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