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National Archives Displays Rare Bill of Rights Broadside
Press Release · Friday, May 6, 2022

Washington, DC

Loan from David Rubenstein Appears Beside 1297 Magna Carta

Financier and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein has loaned an original 1790 Broadside Bill of Rights to the National Archives for display in the National Archives Museum. Broadside printings of the Bill of Rights are very rare, and there are no other known copies of this New Hampshire printing. Only one other Broadside, printed in Rhode Island, is known to exist. Broadsides were effectively posters meant for public display.

The Broadside is on view for the next six months as part of the Records of Rights exhibit in the museum’s David M. Rubenstein Gallery. The document is displayed near the exhibit entrance, to the right of the 1297 Magna Carta—the only original on public display in the United States—also on loan from Mr. Rubenstein. 

The document’s placement allows visitors to see a clear narrative arc from Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights as foundational to the successful claims of future generations of Americans explored throughout the rest of the exhibition.

The Broadside will be on view until October 21, 2022, when National Archives conservators will undertake a full examination of the document and develop a plan for its long-term display.

“I want to thank David for his tremendous generosity that expands our ability to share with everyone the legacy of the American people’s fight for freedom. Now more than ever, as we strive to be a more perfect union, we are grateful to be able to share founding documents that help tell the story of who we are as a people, where we’ve been, and where we are going. Behind each record in the David M. Rubenstein Gallery are stories of courage, resilience, and the belief in a better future,” said Acting Archivist of the United States Debra Steidel Wall. 

Mr. Rubenstein said, “The Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of freedom that Americans cherish. The First Amendment, in particular, with its five freedoms – religion, speech, press, assembly, redress of grievance – makes our country truly unique in human history. Seeing this precious document in person, I believe, will excite people and encourage them to learn more about the founding of our country and how our rights have evolved across 230 years.”

About the Broadside Bill of Rights, 1790
This Broadside of the First Federal Congress’s Joint Resolution of March 4, 1789, was published by George Jerry Osborn, Jr. in New Hampshire on January 25, 1790, to promote its ratification by New Hampshire voters. New Hampshire was the fifth state to ratify the Bill of Rights, and Congress approved these amendments in 1789. Virginia took the total over the three-fourths threshold with its ratification on December 15, 1791. Ten of the 12 proposed amendments were then appended to the Constitution. 

About the 1297 Magna Carta, on loan from David M. Rubenstein
Setting the stage at the entrance of the "Records of Rights" exhibition in the David M.  Rubenstein Gallery is the 1297 Magna Carta, the first English charter to directly challenge the  monarchy’s authority. This foundational document served as a precedent for the concept of  freedom under law, envisioned by the Founding Fathers, and set in motion the process of  defining civil liberties for all Americans.

About the David M. Rubenstein Records of Rights Exhibit
The David M. Rubenstein Records of Rights Exhibit provides new context for the Charters of Freedom—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights—on view in the National Archives Rotunda. It begins with Rubenstein's 1297 Magna Carta and traces the evolution of rights in the United States from our country’s founding  through the present day. Records of Rights uses original records, facsimiles and interactive exhibits to explore how Americans have worked to realize the ideals of freedom enshrined in our nation’s founding documents, and how they debated issues such as citizenship, free speech, voting rights, and equal opportunity. The exhibit highlights the drive for civil rights for African Americans, women, and immigrants.

About David M. Rubenstein  
A native of Baltimore, David M. Rubenstein is co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm. In addition to his loan of an original 1297 Magna Carta to the National Archives, he has lent rare copies of the Declaration of Independence to the State Department and the National Archives, and the first official map of the United States published after the Revolution to the Library of Congress.  

A magna cum laude graduate of Duke University, Rubenstein graduated in 1973 from The University of Chicago Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review. After practicing law in New York, he served from 1975 to 1976 as Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. From 1977 to 1981, during the Carter administration, Rubenstein was Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. After his White House service, he practiced law at a private firm in Washington, and then co-founded The Carlyle Group in 1987.

In addition to his work with the National Archives, Mr. Rubenstein is Chairman of the Boards of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Gallery of Art, the Economic Club of Washington, and the University of Chicago; a Fellow of the Harvard Corporation; a Trustee of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Constitution Center, the Brookings Institution, and the World Economic Forum; and a Director of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

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This page was last reviewed on May 6, 2022.
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