Wednesday, March 16, 2016

National Archives Opening Reception for Amending America Exhibit

Foundation Chair A'Lelia Bundles (Photo: Kea Taylor)

From our friends at the National Archives Foundation...

More than 400 DC insiders and guests flooded the National Archives last night for the launch of Amending America at a reception hosted by the National Archives Foundation. Featuring more than 50 original documents from the National Archives - 30 of which have never before been put on public display - this exhibit highlights the remarkably American story of how we have amended, or attempted to amend, the Constitution in order to form "a more perfect union."

Guests included: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R- TN); Former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard; Former US Ambassador to Kingdom of the Netherlands Fay Hartog-Levin; Dr. Meredith Evans, Director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum; Nancy “Bitsey” Folger; Diane McWhorter; Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History & Culture; Lawrence “Larry” F. O’Brien III, Founder of OB-C Group, former Chair of Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States; A’Lelia Bundles, National Archives Foundation Chair; Patrick M. Madden, National Archives Foundation Executive Director; and senior corporate executives from AT&T and History/A+E.

Amending America Opening Reception

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. 

A list of more than 11,000 proposed amendments was debuted last night on a 225 ft. banner stretching from the original Bill of Rights on display in the Rotunda to the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery. Visitors learned about some of those proposed amendments, including:

• 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)

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.

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.