Did you know that — for a limited time — you can see some 30 original documents from the National Archives that have never before been put on public display? These fascinating pieces, along with more than 20 more rarely seen originals, are part of the Archives’ new Amending America exhibit, on view through September 4th, 2016. Amending America highlights the singularly American story of how we have amended — or attempted to amend — the Constitution in order to form “a more perfect union.”
And what a year for this exhibit! Not only are topics around the Constitution and individual freedoms being hotly debated every day in the course of the 2016 election, this year also marks the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.
Only 27 times — out of more than 11,000 attempts — have Americans reached consensus to amend the Constitution. Amending America pulls back the curtain on this process and shares highlights from 225 years of renegotiating our fundamental governing contract. The 3,000 sq. ft. exhibit includes petitions, interactives, landmark documents, and political cartoons addressing issues including child labor, prayer in schools, free speech, suffrage, civil rights, and more, like:
- H.R. 8 to prohibit any person involved in a duel from holding federal office (1838)
- H.J. Res. 159 to extend voting rights to widows and spinsters who are property holders (1888)
- H.J. Res. 661 to prohibit drunkenness (1938, five years after the repeal of Prohibition)
- Petition for a constitutional amendment to expel members of Congress who are absent for more than 40 percent of roll call votes (1971).
Amending America is free and open to the public, and will be on display in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, through September 4, 2017. Amending America is presented in part by AT&T, HISTORYⓇ, the Lawrence F. O’Brien Family, Seedlings Foundation, and the National Archives Foundation.
*Images courtesy Archives Foundation