Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality
On May 9, 2019, the National Constitution Center’s new permanent exhibit—the first in America devoted to exploring the constitutional debates from the Civil War and Reconstruction—will open to the public. The exhibit will feature key figures central to the era—from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to John Bingham and Harriet Tubman—and will allow visitors of all ages to learn how the equality promised in the Declaration of Independence was finally inscribed in the Constitution by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, collectively known as the Reconstruction Amendments. The 3,000-square-foot exhibit, entitled Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality, will feature over 100 artifacts, including original copies of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, Dred Scott’s signed petition for freedom, a pike purchased by John Brown for an armed raid to free enslaved people, a fragment of the flag that Abraham Lincoln raised at Independence Hall in 1861, and a ballot box marked “colored” from Virginia’s first statewide election that allowed black men to vote in 1867. The exhibit will also feature artifacts from the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia—one of the most significant Civil War collections in the country—housed at and on loan from the Gettysburg Foundation and The Union League of Philadelphia.
FOURTEEN: A Theatrical Performance
For a limited production run beginning on June 19 (Juneteenth)—the holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans throughout the Confederate States of America—visitors can experience FOURTEEN, a moving theatrical performance that sheds new light on the Reconstruction era and the ratification of the 14th Amendment. Through dramatic interpretation of original texts, such as Frederick Douglass’s open letter “To My Old Master,” the 30-minute performance will bring to life the leaders, influential figures, and everyday Americans who were central to the era. Created in collaboration and consultation with nationally recognized, award-winning artists and scholars, FOURTEEN: A Theatrical Performance will be performed in the Center’s Bank of America Theater—adjacent to the main exhibit space. After opening June 19, FOURTEEN will run two times a day June 20 – June 26 and will run four times a day June 27 – August 10. The performance will return in fall 2019 and spring 2020. This production has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
- Civil War and Reconstruction Exhibit to Have Permanent Home at National Constitution Center, Beginning May 9, 2019
- On the 150th Anniversary of the 14th Amendment, the National Constitution Center Announces New Exhibit, Theater Performance, and Podcast Series
- The Pew Charitable Trusts Awards $500,000 to National Constitution Center for New Permanent Exhibit on the Constitutional Legacy of the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era Amendments