On May 5, the Library will close its popular exhibition “Creating the United States.” The exhibition has been on view for four years and seen approximately 2 million visitors passing through its space. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough once called it the one exhibition every American should see on a visit to Washington, D.C.
Notable items on display include Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” James Madison’s notes from the 1787 Constitutional Convention (June 18, 1787), Madison’s Copy of the Federalist’s Papers and Thomas Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address (March 4, 1805).
Although it was moved for preservation reasons, Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten draft of the Declaration of Independence, with edits by his fellow founding fathers John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, held a place of prominence during the exhibition’s inaugural months. There are interactive displays showing where some of its central tenets came from.
Of course, you can see all these materials and more online, including interactives that allow you to delve deeper into the creation of these cornerstone texts. But, trust me, there’s nothing quite like seeing them in person and sharing the same space, however briefly. So, if you’re in town, make sure to visit or revisit this landmark exhibition before it’s gone.