Sweeping power to investigate Trump’s finances upheld

On this day, the first Democratic Party convention

Women and the Civil War: The Untold Stories

Looking back at Romer, a key Supreme Court decision about gay rights

Plessy’s place in the list of worst Supreme Court decisions

Brown v. Board: When the Supreme Court ruled against segregation

Are we in a Constitutional Crisis?

MSNBC, Ali Velshi: MO Pushes New Anti-abortion Law, Following Surge of ‘Heartbeat’ Bills

The man whose impeachment vote saved Andrew Johnson

Gallery Performances — Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: The Great Problem to be Solved

How Philly lost the nation’s capital to Washington

The Associated Press: Gorsuch Replaces Biden as Chair of Civic Education Group

Justice Neil Gorsuch Elected Honorary Chair of the National Constitution Center’s Board of Trustees

CSPAN, Washington Journal: Jeffrey Rosen on the Constitutional Battle Between Congress and the White House

The Mexican-American war in a nutshell

Looking back: A new Justice replaces a filibustered candidate

On this day, the Pullman Strike changes labor law

Uwishunu: Now Open: Groundbreaking Civil War and Reconstruction Exhibit at the National Constitution Center

Bruce Ackerman: Revolutionary Constitutions

Swift ruling likely in first round of Trump financial records subpoena fight

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Live at America’s Town Hall

Presidents Adams and the Problem of Democracy

The story behind the Join or Die snake cartoon

MSNBC, Ali Velshi: Where Can the President Assert Executive Privilege?

WHYY: Exhibit Takes Deep Dive Into Constitutional Debates That Formed Civil War-Era Amendments

Penn Live: 25 Must-See Artifacts at the New Civil War and Reconstruction Exhibit at the National Constitution Center

The Associated Press: Civil War Exhibit Opens at National Constitution Center

Civil War and Reconstruction: A Conversation with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

The House’s contempt powers explained

Philly.com: Constitution Center’s Bold New Exhibit Takes on the Civil War and Reconstruction

How a C-grade college term paper led to a constitutional amendment

Exclusive Members-Only Opening Week Tours- Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality-May 9

1787 Society Chairmans Circle

1787 Society

1787 Society: Philanthropic Support for the National Constitution Center

As a private nonprofit institution devoted to nonpartisan teaching about the U.S. Constitution, the National Constitution Center relies on the generous support of our annual donors. Philanthropic support from individuals, corporations, and foundations helps us thrive as America’s leading nonpartisan center for constitutional education and debate. Our 1787 Society, named for the year the Constitutional Convention proposed the U.S. Constitution, recognizes our most dedicated annual supporters. Every year, 1787 Society members make it possible for the Center to educate millions of learners of all ages across the country.

1787 Society Giving Opportunities

In recognition of their deep commitment to the Center’s mission, all of our 1787 Society Members enjoy core benefits such as:

  •  Exclusive communications from the National Constitution Center’s President and CEO, Jeffrey Rosen
  • Complimentary tickets to America’s Town Hall events, hosted in Philadelphia and across the country
  • Invitations to programs and events with scholars, thought leaders, journalists, and policy makers
  • Complimentary admission to the National Constitution Center’s exhibits for 2 adults and 4 children
  • Public recognition for their support for the National Constitution Center in publications such as the annual report, programs for select events, on the Constitution Center’s website, and elsewhere

1787 Society Members enjoy additional benefits at different giving levels, including but not limited to the benefits described below:


$1,000 – Patrons’ Circle

  • Core 1787 Society benefits (see above)

$2,500 – Delegates’ Circle

  • Complimentary tickets to select signature events
  • 1 named chair in the National Constitution Center’s Sidney Kimmel Theater
  • Private guided tour for 1787 Society Members and guests
  • Core 1787 Society benefits (see above)

$5,000 – Signers’ Circle

  • Complimentary tickets to select signature events
  • Lunch with President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen
  • 2 named chairs in the National Constitution Center’s Sidney Kimmel Theater
  • Private guided tour for 1787 Society Members and guests
  • Core 1787 Society benefits (see above)

$10,000 – Presidents’ Circle

  • Complimentary tickets to select signature events, dinners, and receptions
  • Invitations to author meet-and-greets, and dinner conversations with Jeffrey Rosen and other distinguished guests
  • Lunch with President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen
  • 2 named chairs in the National Constitution Center’s Sidney Kimmel Theater
  • Private guided tour for 1787 Society Members and guests
  • Core 1787 Society benefits (see above)

$25,000 –Drafters’ Circle

  • Complimentary tickets to and preferred seating at select signature events, dinners, and receptions
  • Invitations to the annual Board of Trustees Dinner with distinguished guests including scholars, thought leaders, journalists, and policymakers
  • Invitations to author meet-and-greets, and dinner conversations with Jeffrey Rosen and other distinguished guests
  • Lunch with President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen
  • 2 named chairs in the National Constitution Center’s Sidney Kimmel Theater
  • Private guided tour for 1787 Society Members and guests
  • Core 1787 Society benefits (see above)

$50,000 – Constitution Circle

  • Complimentary tickets to and premium seating at select signature events, dinners, and receptions
  • Invitations to the annual Board of Trustees Dinner with distinguished guests including scholars, thought leaders, journalists, and policymakers
  • Invitations to author meet-and-greets, and dinner conversations with Jeffrey Rosen and other distinguished guests
  • Dinner with President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen
  • 2 named chairs in the National Constitution Center’s Sidney Kimmel Theater
  • Private guided tour for 1787 Society Members and guests
  • Core 1787 Society benefits (see above)

$100,000 – Leadership Circle

  • Exclusive recognition and hospitality opportunities throughout the year
  • Complimentary tickets to and premium seating at select signature events, dinners, and receptions
  • Invitations to the annual Board of Trustees Dinner with distinguished guests including scholars, thought leaders, journalists, and policymakers
  • Invitations to author meet-and-greets, and dinner conversations with Jeffrey Rosen and other distinguished guests
  • Dinner with President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen
  • 2 named chairs in the National Constitution Center’s Sidney Kimmel Theater
  • Private guided tour for 1787 Society Members and guests
  • Core 1787 Society benefits (see above)

Click here to learn more about educational initiatives your gift supports.

For more specific details on the benefits for each giving level, and to learn more about the 1787 Society and the giving level that is right for you, please contact Rebecca Bolden, Senior Director of Development at 215-409-6741 or [email protected].

The day the Supreme Court killed Hollywood’s studio system

Assembly and Petition Discussion Questions

  • How has the Supreme Court changed the rights to assembly and petition with its expansive speech right, known as “freedom of expression?”
  • In what ways has technology changed the way we petition our elected officials?

  • When does the government have the ability to restrict collective activity in order to keep public order and safety?

Day Ten: Classroom Exchange: a National Civil Dialogue on the First Amendment

Sign up for your classroom exchange today!

Students will apply the fundamental skills they have learned from previous lessons to discuss how the freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution apply in their world. Supported by the National Constitution Center, students will actively participate in a live, online Classroom Exchange. In the exchanges, classrooms across the United States are paired with one another to discuss a constitutional question that students have addressed in class. The exchange provides opportunities to discuss varying constitutional viewpoints with peers from across the country. Students are given opportunity to now embody the norms they previously established for a civil dialogue and engage in an inter-classroom discussion. Classroom Exchanges are moderated by legal professionals who are trained and approved by the National Constitution Center to engage students for healthy dialogue on the First Amendment.

Click here to get started!

Day Nine: Assembly and Petition

Day Eight: Civil Dialogue on Freedom of Religion

Discussion Questions:

  • What do you think the clause means when it refers to the establishment of a religion?
  • Can your town council lead off its sessions with sectarian prayer? (Could give the specific example of a Christian prayer using “Jesus Christ.”)
  • Can your public school give a religious group access to the school’s classrooms for meetings outside of school hours? (And/or the flipside, can they exclude them?)

Classroom Materials:

Download our handy Civil Dialogue Toolkit for all the resources you need to facilitate a dialogue in your classroom.

Download Now >>

A Dangerous Idea: The History of Eugenics in America

Day Seven: Religion-Free Exercise

Day Six: Religion-Establishment

Is Asking About Citizenship on the Census Unconstitutional?

Day Four: Press

First Amendment: Assembly and Petition

Essential Questions:

  • Why were the rights to assembly and petition so important to the Founders of the Constitution?
  • What current issues exist relating to these rights?
  • How should we balance the right to collective action with the need for public order?

Get Started:

Classroom Materials

They will complete a close reading activity to compare and contrast ideas presented in the Interactive Constitution and describe the ways these rights have been interpreted by the Court and used by citizens at various points throughout U.S. history.

Lesson Plan

 

 

Explore The Interactive Constitution:

Common Interpretation Matters of DebateMatters of Debate


By John Inazu and Burt Neuborne


Beyond Speech and Association
By John Inazu


Reading the First Amendment as a Whole by Burt Neuborne

 

 

Continue the Conversation:

Sign Up for an Exchange

Continue Exploring

Sign up now to discuss big big constitutional questions with a classroom elsewhere in the United States.  The Center will pair you with a classroom, connect you with an expert moderator, and set up videoconferencing sessions.

Sign-up for more information >>

Explore more clauses of the First Amendment with our Two Week Plan of Study.

First Amendment: Religion-Free Exercise

Essential Questions:

  • Why did the Founders write the Free Exercise Clause into the Constitution?

  • How has the Supreme Court’s application of the Free Exercise Clause changed over time?

Get Started:

Freedom of Religion Video Part Two:  Classroom Materials:

 

 

Download the Lesson Plan

Explore The Interactive Constitution:

Common Interpretation Matters of DebateMatters of Debate


By Frederick Gedicks and Michael McConnell


Religious Liberty Is Equal Liberty
By Frederick Gedicks


Free Exercise: A Vital Protection for Diversity and Freedom
By Michael McConnell

 

Continue the Conversation:

Sign Up for an Exchange

Continue Exploring

Sign up now to discuss big big constitutional questions with a classroom elsewhere in the United States.  The Center will pair you with a classroom, connect you with an expert moderator, and set up videoconferencing sessions.

Sign-up for more information >>

Explore more clauses of the First Amendment with our Two Week Plan of Study.

First Amendment: Religion-Establishment

Essential Questions:

  • Why was the Establishment Clause important to the Founding generation?
  • How has the Establishment Clause shaped the role of religion in our government and society?
  • How has the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Clause provided a legal framework for evaluating these issues?

Get Started:

Freedom of Religion Video Part One:  Classroom Materials:

Download the Lesson Plan

Explore The Interactive Constitution:

Common Interpretation Matters of DebateMatters of Debate


By Marci A. Hamilton and Michael McConnell


The Establishment Clause: A Check on Religious Tyranny
By Marci A. Hamilton


The Establishment Clause: Co-Guarantor of Religious Freedom
By Michael McConnell

 

Continue the Conversation:

Sign Up for an Exchange Explore the First Amendment

Sign up now to discuss big big constitutional questions with a classroom elsewhere in the United States.  The Center will pair you with a classroom, connect you with an expert moderator, and set up videoconferencing sessions.

Sign-up for more information >>

Explore more clauses of the First Amendment with our Two Week Plan of Study.

WAMU, 1A: Attorney General Bill Barr Testifies

J. Edgar Hoover: The library clerk who became America’s ‘most-powerful man’

National Constitution Center to Launch Constitutional Ambassadors Program September 2019

Constitutional Ambassadors Program

Day Three: Speech

Law Day: 10 famous people who were lawyers

Constitutional Ambassadors Program

Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center and Dr. William Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, announce partnership for the Constitutional Ambassadors Program, May 2, 2019. Read the Press Release >>

Coming September 2019!

In 1787, delegates came from across the American colonies to Philadelphia to draft a new Constitution. Today, students come from across the country to the National Constitution Center to learn about the Constitution—and they leave inspired to spread constitutional light to others. They are our Constitutional Ambassadors.

The Constitutional Ambassadors experience begins in the classroom before the students arrive; continues with a day-long educational experience at the Center, including live theater; and follows students back to their classrooms, where they can connect with other classrooms across America for crucial conversations on current constitutional issues, using our virtual Classroom Exchanges, which are hosted on the Center’s pathbreaking online educational platform, the Interactive Constitution.

Program Structure

Before the Visit

Before the students come to the National Constitution Center, teachers can use the Interactive Constitution: Classroom Edition resources to teach core constitutional concepts to the students.

Visit to the National Constitution Center

When the students visit through the Constitutional Ambassadors program, they will see rare historical documents, priceless artifacts, interactive exhibits, and powerful live theatrical performances that bring contemporary discussions about the Constitution to life. And the students will practice civil constitutional dialogue and debate with their peers.

Below is a sample schedule:

  • Welcome & “Essential Questions.” Students will be presented with a difficult constitutional question—such as whether and how the Constitution protects equality—that they will be encouraged to research throughout the day at the Center.
  • Interactive Constitution Workshop. Center educators will take a deep dive into a specific constitutional provision to teach students how to research constitutional issues, how to critically examine primary sources, and how to distinguish their personal views from what the Constitution requires.
  • Guided Exploration of the Exhibits. Students will explore the Center’s exhibits and attend the Center’s live theatrical performances, with an eye toward reinforcing core constitutional concepts and diving more deeply into the day’s “Essential Question.”
  • Student Town Hall. Students will reconvene to meet a constitutional expert—volunteer state and federal judges, legal scholars, or practicing lawyers—who will lead the students in a deeper discussion about the day’s “Essential Question.” These town halls are often a highlight of the students’ experience.
  • Peer Exchange. The day will end with students talking with and teaching each other about what they have learned about the day’s Essential Question. They will practice civil dialogue and active listening skills while discussing and even debating constitutional issues.

After the Visit

The National Constitution Center’s educators will follow up with teachers within a month of their visit to support continued classroom discussion, and to invite the students to participate in virtual classroom exchanges with peer classrooms across the country. The Center will conduct randomized evaluations on the program’s effectiveness to adapt the content and format as needed.

More Information

Book Your Group

Book Your Group

Pricing and booking information will be available soon. Sign up here for updates on this program.

Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships will be available for schools in the School District of Philadelphia. Sign up for updates on scholarship opportunities!

Support This Program

Support This Program

Learn more about how you can support the Constitutional Ambassadors Program.

Professional Development for Educators

In conjunction with the Constitutional Ambassadors program, the National Constitution Center will offer educators comprehensive training on the Interactive Constitution and supporting materials. The Center will host day-long professional development sessions for educators, which will include exhibit tours, modeled classroom activities, and training in civil dialogue techniques, totaling four reportable hours of professional development—which the Center will submit for Act 48 reporting.

Members-Only Civil War and Reconstruction Exhibit Tour

Members-Only After Hours Tour Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality

Forbes: So Much Fun In Philadelphia: Pleasures and Treasures Worth Traveling For

The most underrated Founding Father: Oliver Ellsworth?

10 birthday facts about President James Monroe

10 fascinating facts about President Ulysses Grant

First Amendment: Press

Essential Questions:

  • Does the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protect the Freedom of Press?
  • Why is the protection of the press important in a democracy?
  • Why was the protection of the press so important to the Founders? Why does it remain important to American democracy today?

Get Started

Classroom Materials

The lesson builds on the Freedom of Speech lesson plan by asking students to compare and contrast the freedoms of speech and press.

 

Download the Lesson Plan

 

Explore the Interactive Constitution:

FREE SPEECH and Press: COMMON INTERPRETATION

By Geoffrey R. Stone and Eugene Volokh

Go to this clause

MATTERS OF DEBATE: FIXING FREE SPEECH

By Geoffrey R. Stone, Interim Dean and Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

Read the essay

MATTERS OF DEBATE: FRONTIERS FOR FREE SPEECH

By Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Read the essay

Sign Up for an Exchange Explore the First Amendment 

Sign up now to discuss big big constitutional questions with a classroom elsewhere in the United States.  The Center will pair you with a classroom, connect you with an expert moderator, and set up videoconferencing sessions.

Sign-up for more information >>

Explore more clauses of the First Amendment with our Two Week Plan of Study.

Day Five: Civil Dialogue on Freedom of Speech and Press

Classroom Materials:

Download our handy Civil Dialogue Toolkit for all the resources you need to facilitate a dialogue in your classroom.

Download Now >>

Discussion Questions:

  • When does the First Amendment allow the government to limit or restrict speech? Does it depend on the kind of speech, or expression, involved? Why?
  • Can a principal punish you for criticizing her on social media?
  • Can a public university disinvite a controversial speaker?

First Amendment: Speech

Essential Questions:

  • How does the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protect Freedom of Speech?
  • When and why can the government limit certain types of speech?
  • How has the protection of speech changed over time?

Get Started:

Speech Video Part One:   Speeech Video Part Two:
Classroom Materials:

This lesson encourages students to examine their own assumptions and to deepen their understanding of current, accepted interpretations of speech rights under the First Amendment including when and where speech is protected and/or limited. It should reinforce the robustness of the First Amendment protections of speech.

 

Lesson Plan

Activity Sheets

 

Explore the Interactive Constitution:

FREE SPEECH and Press: COMMON INTERPRETATION

By Geoffrey R. Stone and Eugene Volokh

Go to this clause

MATTERS OF DEBATE: FIXING FREE SPEECH

By Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

Read the essay

MATTERS OF DEBATE: FRONTIERS FOR FREE SPEECH

By Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Read the essay

Sign Up for an Exchange Explore the First Amendment

Sign up now to discuss big big constitutional questions with a classroom elsewhere in the United States.  The Center will pair you with a classroom, connect you with an expert moderator, and set up videoconferencing sessions.

Sign-up for more information >>

Explore more clauses of the First Amendment with our Two Week Plan of Study.

WHYY, Radio Times: Mueller Report Fallout

A Constitutional Recap of the Mueller Report

A bold new plea on religious rights

Day Two: Civil Dialogue Primer

Get Started

Civil Dialogue Introductory Video:  Justice Breyer on Civil Dialogue Video: 

National Constitution Center master teacher Carl Ackerman explains how the way arguments are conducted can make a big difference.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer at a special 2015 Constitution Day appearance talks about the basic processes used by the Court to reach decisions in the cases it hears.

Download the video analysis lesson plan

Download our handy Civil Dialogue Toolkit for all the resources you need to facilitate a dialogue in your classroom.

Download Now >>

Past Photos

Supreme Court hears extended arguments in 2020 census case

On this day, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan is born

Day One: Introducing the First Amendment

Essential Questions:

  • Why and how do the clauses in the First Amendment protect fundamental rights?
  • What is the big idea behind these freedoms, and why do they represent the core elements of American democracy?
  • Why are those five freedoms important today?

Get Started:

Overview Video Part One:  Overview Video Part Two: 

Coming Soon! National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen and Associate Justice Elena Kagan discuss First Amendment and how the Supreme Court, legal scholars, and citizens have interpreted it over time.

Coming Soon! Watch the second part of our video introduction the First Amendment, featuring National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen and Associate Justice Elena Kagan

Classroom Materials Sign Up for for an Exchange

The associated classroom materials allow educators to work with students for a deeper dive into the meaning of the First Amendment, the four clauses, and select Court cases over the next few class periods

Sign up now for your Day 10 Exchange and discuss big big constitutional questions with a classroom elsewhere in the United States.  The Center will pair you with a classroom, connect you with an expert moderator, and set up videoconferencing sessions.

 

Explore the Bill of Rights

Writing Rights

Discover the documents that influenced the Bill of Rights.

More

Rights Around the World

Learn how rights have been expressed throughout the world.

More

First Amendment: Plan of Study

Two Week Plan of Study

During this two-week course, students will analyze primary and secondary source documents via the Interactive Constitution to discuss and evaluate the common and divergent viewpoints on the First Amendment of the Constitution from legal scholars, the Founding generation, and fellow students through a civil dialogue that allows students to determine their own points of view and why they hold that viewpoint.

Download as a PDF

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
Introduction to the First Amendment
Civil Dialogue Primer
Freedom of Speech…
...and of the Press
Civil Dialogue on Freedom of Speech and Press
Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10
Freedom of Religion: Establishment
Freedom of Religion: Free Exercise
Civil Dialogue on Freedom of Religion
Freedom of Assembly and Petition
Classroom Exchange: a National Civil Dialogue on the First Amendment

First Amendment: By Clause

Press

Sign up for a classroom exchange

Teachers can register their classes to discuss a big constitutional question with a classroom elsewhere in the United States. The Center will facilitate these dialogues by pairing classrooms, connecting them with an expert moderator, and setting up videoconferencing sessions.

Sign-up for more information >>

New “Interactive Constitution: Classroom Edition” Coming Constitution Day 2019

Discover 10 treasures from the Library of Congress

MSNBC, Velshi and Ruhle: Why Does the Impeachment Process Exist?

James Buchanan’s troubled legacy as President

For Debate: Can the President Use Emergency Powers to Build the Wall?

Major rulings on gay and transgender rights coming

The Constitution and the Supreme Court census case

The New York Times: It’s U.S. vs. World as Big Tech Faces Specter of Limiting Speech Online

The day when America moved toward becoming a global power

Happy birthday, Justice John Paul Stevens

The Assange Indictment and the First Amendment

Five myths about the start of the Revolutionary War

Joan Biskupic: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts

The Julian Assange Indictment and the First Amendment

Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality Press Kit

PRESS KIT

Press Releases

Exhibit Walkthrough

Full List of Exhibit Artifacts

Onsite Educational Programming

Opening Program: A Conversation with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Logo

Featured below are exhibit and artifact images, and appropriate credits. Contact Merissa Blum at [email protected] or 215-409-6645 with questions or for additional information.

Commemorative copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Lincoln, 1864

Commemorative copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Lincoln, 1864

On loan from The Galbraith Family 2012 Trust

“Colored” ballot box from Virginia’s first election that permitted African-American voters, 1867

Courtesy of the Library of Virginia

View & Save

Illustrated letter from a Civil War soldier complaining of the heavy loads they are required to carry, 1863

Courtesy of The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia and The Abraham Lincoln Foundation of The Union League of Philadelphia

View & Save

Major General John Reynolds’s sash that he was wearing when he was killed at Gettysburg

Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation

View & Save

Fragment of the flag that Lincoln raised at Independence Hall, 1861

From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation

View & Save

Portrait of Abraham Lincoln by David Bustill Bowser, an African-American artist, ca. 1864-68

From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation

View & Save

Philanthropy Magazine: To Ourselves and Our Posterity

On this day, Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia

The changing narrative on the death penalty

Tax Day trivia: Why do we have the IRS (and other factoids)?

The forgotten man who almost became President after Lincoln

10 interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination

10 facts about Thomas Jefferson for his birthday

Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality

Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality
The National Constitution Center’s new permanent exhibit, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality, is the first in America devoted to exploring how constitutional clashes over slavery set the stage for the Civil War, and how the nation transformed the Constitution after the war to more fully embrace the Declaration of Independence’s promise of liberty and equality. Through remarkable artifacts and rare documents from one of the largest private Civil War collections in America—the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia—and other partners, the 3,000 square foot exhibit brings to life the stories of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and other figures central to the conflict over slavery. The exhibit also features the inspiring stories of lesser known individuals to help shed light on the American experience under slavery, the battle for freedom during the Civil War, and the fight for equality during Reconstruction, which many call the nation’s “Second Founding.” In doing so, visitors will learn the history of three constitutional amendments added between 1865 and 1870, which ended slavery, required states to respect individual rights, promised equal protection to all people, and expanded the right to vote to African-American men. 

As visitors explore Civil War and Reconstruction, they will encounter a one-actor performance in the 14th Amendment section of the exhibit highlighting Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a key African-American figure from the Reconstruction era. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a staunch abolitionist, suffragist, poet, teacher, writer, and public speaker, speaks out in this 1875 address to the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, outlining the work yet to be done in the cause for African-American freedom. Performances will run two times an hour between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, May 9 through Memorial Day Weekend 2019, and be available on select dates throughout fall of 2019 and in February 2020. This performance is produced by the National Constitution Center, directed by Walter DeShields, performed by Nastassja Baset Whitman, and designed by Tara Webb and Sara Outing.

Artifact highlights include:

  • Original copies of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments (Private collector courtesy of Seth Kaller, Inc.) 
  • Dred Scott’s signed petition for freedom, 1846 (St. Louis Circuit Court, Missouri State Archives–St. Louis)
  • Pike purchased by John Brown for his planned Harpers Ferry Raid, an armed raid to free enslaved people, 1857 (From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation)
  • Fragment of the flag that Abraham Lincoln raised at Independence Hall, 1861 (From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation)
  • Portrait of Abraham Lincoln by David Bustill Bowser, an African-American artist, ca. 1864-1868 (From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation)
  • Commemorative copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln, 1864 (On loan from The Galbraith Family 2012 Trust)

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. 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.

FOURTEEN is created in collaboration and consultation with nationally recognized, award-winning artists and scholars, including Drama Desk Award-winning theater artist Suli Holum, Philadelphia Foundry member and theatre artist Alexandra Espinoza, script and research advisor, three-time Obie Award-winning playwright, director, and actor Ain Gordon; the internationally acclaimed theater company Elevator Repair Service and sound design by Tony Award-winning sound designer and composer Rob Kaplowitz and Barrymore Award nominated sound designer Daniel Ison. This production is led by the Center’s director of theatre programs Nora Quinn.

Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality is made possible thanks to a partnership among:

This exhibit gallery is made possible thanks to the generous support of:

Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
The George Family Foundation
The Pew Charitable Trusts    |    William Penn Foundation
PECO    |    Crystal Trust    |    The McLean Contributionship
Otto Haas Charitable Trust, at the recommendation of John and Janet Haas
Board of Governors of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Tourism Office
Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program of the Commonwealth

Reconstruction and the 14th Amendment Theatre Programs, including the in-gallery performance, The Great Problem to be Solved, and FOURTEEN: A Theatrical Performance, are supported by:

 

Special thanks to Kurt Lash from the University of Richmond School of Law for generously sharing his research and offering his expertise to produce the original gallery interactive created to teach the drafting process of each Reconstruction Amendments’ text. Kurt Lash, The Reconstruction Amendments: Essential Documents (University of Chicago Press, 2019).

 

About the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia
The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia was chartered in 1888, but the museum’s history and its collection had their beginnings as the Civil War ended in 1865. The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia’s collection is one of the most significant of Civil War relics in the country. Comprising some 3,000 artifacts, several thousand photographs, hundreds of works of art, scores of maps and charts, and nearly 100 linear feet of letters, diaries, muster rolls, and other archival materials, the collections of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia rank among the largest and most comprehensive in the United States. More than 80 percent of the materials came to the museum directly from Civil War veterans or their descendants. Since 2010 the collection has been cared for by the Gettysburg Foundation and stored at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.

About the Gettysburg Foundation
The Gettysburg Foundation is a non-profit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg. The Foundation raised funds for and now operates the Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park, which opened in April 2008. In addition to operating the Museum and Visitor Center, the Foundation has a broad preservation mission that includes land, monument and artifact preservation and battlefield rehabilitation—all in support of the National Park Service’s goals at Gettysburg.

Looking back at the day FDR died

Kisor v. Wilkie: A Case to Watch

The remarkable career of Charles Evans Hughes

An Evening with Former United States Attorney Preet Bharara

MUSEUM PROGRAMS INTERN

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