National Archives, Washington D.C.
The National Archives houses some of the most important documents in the history of the United States and it should be one of the first places that most visitors should see.
Some of the documents on display are the Magna Carta, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.
On July 4, 1776 We had taken the first step to becoming a free nation, but without its toll on our lives and economy. Yet, we prevailed and have become a nation I am very proud to be part of.
"The Declaration announced to the world the separation of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain and the establishment of the United States of America. It explained the causes of this radical move with a long list of charges against the King. In justifying the Revolution, it asserted a universal truth about human rights in words that have inspired downtrodden people through the ages and throughout the world to rise up against their oppressors."Retrieved from:The National Archives Experience
Security is a must here too and will go through the process as if your going through an airport so be prepared.
The documents are on displayed and protected by sealing cassings to preserve them.
Photo's are welcome, but "No Flash!" Hehehehe, I click off one and you'd thought the world ended, but after they calmed down I reminded them they were not clear and their was no signs posted. So they started reminding everyone - Ok, I am bad:^)
The Rotunda of the National Archives Building in downtown Washington, DC, reopened on September 18. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence have returned to public display. For more information, see the National Archives Experience.
Monday & Wednesday 8:45 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday, Thursday & Friday 8:45 am - 9:00 pm
Saturday 8:45 am - 4:45 pm
Closed Sundays and Federal Holidays
Pull times for files
Fall & Winter Seasons (Day after Labor Day through March 31)
10:00 A.M.–5:30 P.M. (every day, except closed on December 25)
Spring Season (April 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend)
10:00 A.M.–7:00 P.M. (every day)
Summer Season (Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day)
10:00 A.M.–9:00 P.M. (every day)
The National Archives are where the country's most valuable documents are stored and serves as a research resource center for advanced scholars as well as those with less prestigious credentials. Just imagine, only 1 to 3% of all documents in the United States are considered important enough to store them here. Want something more concrete? Well, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are here. Oh, and one of the few original copies of Magna Carta too! Prior to the National Archives formation in 1934, each branch of government was responsible for archiving their own documents. The building is one of the city's more ornate as well as state of the art, especially at the time of its construction, as special air-handlers were necessary to ensure the safety of the perishable goods it was to house.
This was a definite if brief stop. We found it kind of amusing that there was such a big line for the US treasures while the Magna Carta garnered only a short glance by most passing by.
The Archives building is located north of the National Mall on Constitution Avenue opened as its original headquarters in the mid 1930s. It holds the original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. These are displayed to the public in the main chamber of the National Archives, which is called the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. There are no queues at the National Archives, and visitors may walk between the documents as you like. The only restriction is no flash photography. The Archives also exhibits other historical documents like the Louisiana Purchase, the Emancipation Proclamation, and much more.
the national archive building was designed by john russell pope, the architect of the national gallery of art and the jefferson monument. it opened in 1934 and it's main purpose is to preserve our nation's important documents. the main interest to visitors to the national archives is to see the u.s. constitution, the declaration of independence, the bill of rights. also a must see item in the archives is a 1297 copy of the magna carta. a must see site when visiting washington.
From all the museums and memorials in Washington, this is a Must See (yes, with capital letters). The reasons: the display of the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and one of the four remaining copies of the English 1297 Magna Carta, which is also the only copy residing in the United States.
Some of the originals, like the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta, can be hardly read because of the time passed and the fading ink. However, those of the Constitution and Bill of Rights are in good conditions and can be read.
Entrance is free, and depending of the time of the year, it is open until 5 pm (from Labour Day until spring) or until 7 pm (from spring until Labour Day).
Outside, the building is a beatiful example of the architecture of Washington DC's historic monuments and buildings. Inside, the exhibit hall displays American treasures: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights. There are also other exhibits with themes of American cultural and historical heritage.
The front hall of the National Archives contains one of the original Declarations of Independence. Viewers stand in single file in the central rotunda and have a short time to view this particular document. Take some time to walk around!
The National Archives is always on of the places on the list to visit, but I usually don't take the time to stop in! Dusty documents is low on my list when traveling .... and I usually prioritize for other places (shhh, don't tell anyone okay?).
In the display area one can view the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and other life altering historical documents. I usually just visit the exterior ... I love the statues out front ... especially the one whose quotation is the title for this tip ...... the past is an important aspect of the present - and the present will be the past soon ........ and I can contemplate this as I wait for the bus out front. See, I don't have a GOOD excuse for not entering ;)
This great building and its collections are probably overlooked in the shadow of the Smithsonian with its 65 million artefacts, etc, but a few minutes inside will be sufficient. The front hall contains one of the original Declarations of Independence. Viewers stand in single file in the central rotunda and have a short time to view this particular document.
I was very lucky to visit the National Archives as it reopened a month before my visit after a few years closure for renovation. The price was almost one hour waiting time. Well, I can't complain about that, never!
The huge building with no windows fills an entire city block and is rather boring in style except the south (for visitors) and north (for researchers) entrance designed like a Greek temple in Neo-classical or Greek Revival style. Milford, Massachussets pink granite (in fact not at all pink) and Indiana limestone was used to build exteriors of the National Archive building. Indiana limestone was used to build Empire State Building in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia as well. I paid attention to two high flagpoles with huge US national flags put on both sides of the front facade.
Together with the first printed draft of the Constitution displayed in Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom I've seen a picture titled "In the Reading Room of an 18th Century New York Coffee House" showing the discussion on future US constitution. The Philadelphia Convention (later known as the Constitutional Convention or the Federal Convention) took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787. Creating constitution which resulted in creating a whole new republican and nationalist government for 13 different states took only less than 4 months.
The delegates proposed a strong central government made up of three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. As for slavery they left its final resolution to future generations. As for ratification, they devised a procedure that maximized the odds: the Constitution would be enacted when it was ratified by nine, not thirteen, states.
A lot of compromises had to be reached to draft the constitution. One group of delegates favored representation based on population, while the other wanted each state being equal. Roger Sherman from Connecticut proposed having the House of Representatives be based on population and in the Senate each state would get an equal amount of Senators. This plan called later the Great Compromise was accepted by most.
Certainly not all the delegates were pleased with the results; some left before the ceremony, and three of those remaining refused to sign. Of the 39 who did sign, probably no one was completely satisfied, but such is the nature of compromise. But history proves that it was great compromise. The US Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times and stands today as the longest-lasting written constitution in the world.
I've got to know in the National Archives that the first US Constitution immediatelly needed amendments. To my surprise the first US Constitution didn't guarantee most treasured personal freedoms, I mean freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, the right to a fair and speedy trial. Why?
There were two reasons. First, lack of time caused that the delegates concentrated on creating new federal power and government. Second, for those who favored the Constitution (the Federalists), a bill of rights was not necessary because the Federal Government couldn't interfere with the rights of the people or the states and most states had bills of rights. But strong opponents of the Constitution couldn't think about any consitution withouut list of rights guaranteed to the people. Although most of them finally agreed to sign the Constitution which itself didn't guarantee basic freedoms they as well as state ratification conventions called for the adoption of a bill of rights.
And, indeed, after the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the First Federal Congress took up the question of a bill of rights almost immediately. Congress proposed twelve amendments to the states. Ten of these were added to the Constitution on December 15, 1791. I've seen the note handwritten by the senator showing the final wording on what would become the first and the sixth amendment to the Constitution.
Surely I was interested about the two amendment which were refused. The first article, concerning the ratio of constituents to each congressional representative, was never ratified by the states but the second article listed, concerning congressional pay, was ratified in 1992 as the Twenty-seventh Amendment. I see, some Americans were over 200 years ahead in the end of 19th century.
The original handwritten Declaration of Independance (look at my picture), exhibited in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom of the National Archives unfortunately has faded badly. Poor preservatio techniques were used during the 19th century. To my dissapointment the document was almost unreadable. Well, that's why isually another image of the Declaration (from 1823) is the most frequently reproduced version of the document.
The Declaration of Independence is the document in which the Thirteen Colonies declared themselves independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain and explained their justifications for doing so. The date on the ducement is July 4, 1776. And this is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States. But, in fact, the declaration was not signed on that date, it was signed August 2 by most of the delegates. Well, shouldn't USA change their national holiday? Haha, as I noticed, it's often difficult to fix exact date for great historical changes as they were long-lasting processes not a single date.
The original handwritten text of the Constitution of the United States displayed in Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives is surprisingly well preserved, so I could even read the text. To my surprise it consists of the preamble and only seven articles (quite long though) which gives only 4 pages in total.
It's the oldest written national constitution in use. The Constitution of the United States has served as a model for the constitutions of numerous other nations, including Europe's first modern codified national constitution and the second oldest codified constitution, the May Constitution of Poland, which was written in 1791.
The best seen are 40 signatures of 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a signature of a secretary by the name of William Jackson who signed the document, not as a delegate, but in attestation of the document's signing. Surprisingly no delegate from Rhode Island signed the document, since the state declined to send a representative. Additionally several notable politicians of the time did not attend the convention, including Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (they were overseas working as diplomats), as well as Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Paine (they considered the previous system of government acceptable).
The men who signed the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution or otherwise participated in the American Revolution as leaders of the Patriots are commonly called Founding Fathers of the United States, also known to some Americans as the Fathers of Our Country, the Forefathers, Framers or the Founders.