Artifacts

Chair from the First Congress, 1790

Chair from the First Congress, 1790

This chair is one of 96 made by Thomas Affleck for Congress Hall, Philadelphia. The First Congress used them from 1790 to 1791.

National Constitution Center Collection, Courtesy of Anonymous Gift

Slave Shackles, 1830s

Slave Shackles, 1830s

The horrors of enslavement were many. Shackles like these were used to keep slaves in bondage prior to the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

National Constitution Center Collection

Abraham Lincoln Signature from Gettysburg, 1863

Abraham Lincoln Signature from Gettysburg, 1863

This is the only known signature of Abraham Lincoln from the day he delivered his famous Gettysburg Address. It was collected in an autograph book used to gather the signatures of dignitaries attending the dedication ceremony of Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863.

On loan from the Lewis Katz Irrevocable Trust dated June 12, 2003 for the benefit of Ethan, Brooke, Taryn and Remi Silver

Emancipation Proclamation, 1864

Emancipation Proclamation, 1864

This copy of the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln in June 1864. Forty-eight copies were sold at the Philadelphia Great Central Sanitary Fair to raise funds for sick and wounded Union soldiers. Of those 48 signed by Lincoln, only 24 are known to survive.

On loan from Katie, Harry, Lucy and Steve Galbraith

“Ask Santa to Bring a Vote for Mother” Stocking, ca. 1915

“Ask Santa to Bring a Vote for Mother” Stocking, ca. 1915

This piece of memorabilia is a reminder of the long fight for women’s right to vote. The deciding vote to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920 was cast by a young Tennessee assembly member named Harry Burn, whose mother encouraged him to “be a good boy” and vote for suffrage.

Museum of American Political Life, University of Hartford

Franklin Roosevelt’s Fedora, 193

Franklin Roosevelt’s Fedora, 193

Roosevelt's optimism and jaunty confidence inspired the nation during the Great Depression and World War II. The fedora became one of his trademarks; he purchased this one while in office.

National Constitution Center Collection, Gift of Joseph J. Plaud, Ph.D., BCBA, President, FDR American Heritage Center

Poll Tax Receipt, 1942

Poll Tax Receipt, 1942

Before the passage of the 24th Amendment, some states limited the voting rights of poor blacks and whites by imposing a poll tax. The $1.75 payment stated on this receipt was too much for many people.

National Constitution Center Collection

“March on Washington” Button, 1963

“March on Washington” Button, 1963

On August 28, 1963, buttons like this were distributed at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, organized to pressure the Kennedy administration into passing civil rights legislation. More than 200,000 demonstrators, gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, heard Martin Luther King Jr., deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Museum of American Political Life, University of Hartford

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s Robe, 1981

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s Robe, 1981

In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. She wore this judicial robe from her first term until 2003, when she replaced it with a new one.

Courtesy of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Justin Dart’s Wheelchair, 1990

Justin Dart’s Wheelchair, 1990

Disability activist Justin Dart used this wheelchair to attend the July 26, 1990, signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, an act he helped craft. Dart, who was paralyzed by polio as a teenager, helped build support for the ADA by holding 63 public forums in all 50 states.

National Constitution Center Collection, Gift of Yoshiko Dart

Punch Card Voting Machine, 2000

Punch Card Voting Machine, 2000

This voting machine was used in Palm Beach County, Florida, during the 2000 presidential election. The punch card system with its confusing “butterfly ballots” led to a dispute over Florida’s decisive electoral votes.

National Constitution Center Collection

World Trade Center Wreckage, 2001

World Trade Center Wreckage, 2001

This mangled, steel I-beam is from the World Trade Center. The September 11, 2001, attacks killed thousands and raised, yet again, the issue of balancing national security and civil liberties.

National Constitution Center Collection, Gift of the City of New York

Barack Obama’s

Barack Obama’s "A More Perfect Union" Speech, 2008

Then-candidate Barack Obama’s speech on race at the National Constitution Center was considered a pivotal moment of the 2008 campaign. This signed original is the copy Obama used when he delivered the speech from the Center’s Kirby Auditorium on March 18, 2008.

National Constitution Center Collection

Light-sensitive artifacts need to rest periodically and might not be on display at the time of your visit.

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