We asked Senior Paper Conservator, Kathy Ludwig, about the most interesting project she’s worked on. The most intrinsically valuable document she has treated at the National Archives is the Monroe Doctrine. The document is the Senate version the 36-page text of President James Monroe’s seventh annual Message to Congress on December 2, 1823. The Monroe Doctrine, hand-written by an administrative assistant and signed by the President, was a defining moment in American foreign policy. We’ll explore its conservation treatment in the next few posts.
Did you know that President Ford signed legislation to ensure Veterans Day wouldn’t fall on Monday every year?
Since World War I the United States traditionally commemorated Veterans Day on November 11, which had formerly been recognized as Armistice Day. The “Monday holiday” law passed in 1968 established a uniform holiday schedule for the Federal Government but as a consequence moved the observance of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October.
Although the official Federal holiday was observed on Mondays for several years many people continued to hold commemorations on November 11 as well. In September 1975 President Ford signed into law S.331 officially designating the original date as Veterans Day.
“I believe restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 will help preserve in the hearts and lives of all Americans the spirit of patriotism, the love of country and the willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good symbolized by this very special day,” President Ford said in his signing statement.
-from the Ford Library
Due to the Federal Government shutdown, the National Archives (www.archives.gov) is closed. We are unable to post or participate in any of our social media channels during this closure. All National Archives facilities are closed, with the exception of the Federal Records Centers and the Federal Register until the Federal government reopens.
Feast your eyes on this historic booty our mateys at congressarchives have dug up, those scurvy dogs!
'Tis Speak like a Scurvy Pirate Day, 'n what better way to celebrate than wit' some scurvy pirate documents!
Band o’ pirates from th’ Barbary States preyed on ships off Africa’s western ‘n Mediterranean coasts fer centuries. After gainin’ independence, th’ U.S. lost British protection on th’ seven seas. In th’ 1780s ‘n 1790s, band o’ pirates captured ‘n enslaved many American sailors ‘n demanded exorbitant ransoms fer their return. Wit’ diplomatic means failin’, Congress authorized th’ creation o’ th’ U.S. Navy to defend against further attacks on American commerce.
In 1802 Congress responded to years o’ attacks by Barbary band o’ pirates. Though not a declaration o’ war, it supported President Jefferson’s decision to send a U.S. Navy squadron to th’ Mediterranean ‘n to use force to protect American citizens ‘n property.
An Act for the Protection of Commerce of the U.S. in the Mediterranean, 2/1/1802, Records of the U.S. Senate
Resources for Teaching about the Constitution
September 17 is designated as Constitution Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. The National Archives is the permanent home of the U.S. Constitution.
Here we’ve compiled some resources from the National Archives and some of our partner organizations that you can use for teaching about the Constitution.
- A featured page for teaching about the Constitution, from DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.
- “The Charters of Freedom” online exhibit about the creation and history of the Constitution, housed at the National Archives.
- Exploring the United States Constitution eBook, connecting the billions of records in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the United States Constitution.
- The United States Constitution course on iTunes U
- Teaching Six Big Ideas in the Constitution
- Founders Online
- Primary Sources related to the U.S. Constitution. from congressarchives on Tumblr
- And don’t forget past U.S. Constitution-related posts here on todaysdocument!
To the President of Congress
[Philadelphia, 17 September 1787]
We have now the Honor to submit to the Consideration of the United States in Congress assembled that Constitution which has appeared to us the most advisable.
The Friends of our Country have long seen and desired that the Power of making War Peace and Treaties, that of levying Money & regulating Commerce and the correspondent executive and judicial Authorities should be fully and effectually vested in the general Government of the Union. But the Impropriety of delegating such extensive Trust to one Body of Men is evident—Hence results the Necessity of a different Organization.
It is obviously impracticable in the fœderal Government Of these States to secure all Rights of independent Sovereignty to each and yet provide for the Interest and Safety of all—Individuals entering into Society must give up a Share of Liberty to preserve the Rest. The Magnitude of the Sacrifice must depend as well on Situations and Circumstances as on the Object to be obtained. It is at all Times difficult to draw with Precision the Lines between those Rights which must be surrendered and those which may be reserved. And on the present Occasion this Difficulty was encreased by a Difference among the several States as to their Situation Extent Habits and particular Interests.
In all our Deliberations on this Subject we kept steadily in our View that which appears to us the greatest Interest of every true american the Consolidation of our Union in which is involved our Prosperity Felicity Safety perhaps our national Existence. this important Consideration seriously and deeply impressed on our Minds led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on Points of inferior Magnitude than might have been otherwise expected. And thus the Constitution which we now present is the Result of a Spirit of Amity and of that mutual Deference & Concession which the Peculiarity of our political Situation rendered indispensible.
That it will meet the full and entire Approbation of every State is not perhaps to be expected. But each will doubtless consider that had her Interests been alone consulted the Consequences might have been particularly disagreable or injurious to others. That it is liable to as few Exceptions as could reasonably have been expected we hope and believe That it may promote the lasting Welfare of that Country so dear to us all and secure her Freedom and Happiness is our most ardent wish.
Happy Constitution Day! The Constitution is 226 years old, and is the oldest written constitution still in use today. It is on permanent display at the National Archives in Washington, DC. You can see a high-res image and read a transcript of the Constitution here: http://go.usa.gov/D5VR
Top Five Facts about the Constitution!
Five: The Constitution has 4,543 words, including the signatures. It takes about 30 minutes to read.
Four: Two of the first 12 amendments submitted were rejected; the remaining ten became the Bill of Rights.
Three: The Chief Justice is mentioned in the Constitution, but the number of Justices is not specified.
Two: Only one amendment to the Constitution has been repealed: the 18th (Prohibition).
One: The Constitution does not give us our rights and liberties, but it does guarantee them.
For more Constitution myth busting, read today’s blog post: http://go.usa.gov/D5kJ
We the People
of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
On September 11, 1945, Frances Curtis, a trustworthy, law-abiding, and loyal citizen, and “Very Good” typist, was passed over for a position at White House due to unpaid tuition bill and a superficial connection to organizations “considered Communistic in nature.”
Five years before the era of McCarthyism began, Frances Curtis’s application for a White House pass was denied by the Secret Service because “superficially, it appears that this applicant may have been directly connected with the Communist Party.”
Read the story of Frances Curtis and decide for yourself if her application should have been denied: http://go.usa.gov/47kP
Her file is one of the thousands of recently opened Secret Service records that are now available for research at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.
Image: Frances Curtis’s application, courtesy of the Truman Library.
Today in history — FDR Approves the National Archives Act
Photo: An image of the construction of the National Archives Building is from June 1934, the month that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the National Archives Act.
Happy Birthday to Us!
Happy 100th birthday to the 17th Amendment!
In the 1850s, U.S. senators were selected by the state legislatures as directed by Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution, which says: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one vote.”
But political problems in states resulted in many seats going empty for long periods. Support grew slowly for popular, or direct, election of senators by voters.
Strong resistance in the Senate to a proposed Constitutional amendment calling for direct elections meant the idea got nowhere for many years.
Finally, in 1911, the Senate approved a proposed Amendment allowing direct election, and the House followed suit the next year. It won approval by the required three-fourths of the state legislatures by April 8, 1913, and was declared part of the Constitution, the 17th Amendment, on May 31 by Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan.
Read the full post on the Prologue blog.
Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Center archivist Kristen Wilhelm.
Forty years ago today self proclaimed “ol’ country lawyer” Senator Sam Ervin stepped onto center stage as chairman of the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, better known as the Watergate Committee. Senator Ervin became a household name as an estimated 85% of U.S. households viewed at least some of the hearings broadcast that summer.
Attorney General John Mitchell, shown in the photo, was one of the high-level Nixon administration figures whose testimony was broadcast. For the committee, bringing the hearings directly to the people was vital. As stated in its Final Report: “The full import of the hearings could only be achieved observing the witnesses and hearing their testimony.”
Photograph of Attorney General John Mitchell, 1973, Records of the U.S. Senate
Happy Public Service Recognition Week!
Yesterday we celebrated the accomplishments of National Archives staff across the country in our annual Archivist’s Awards ceremony.
We created a little internal fanfare yesterday by recognizing staff for protecting and recovering stolen records, for outstanding service and support of our nation’s veterans, for achievement in engaging our citizens, for developing the Presidential Memorandum and Directive on Managing Government Records, for efforts to increase National Declassification Center production, to name just a few of awards tied closely to our Transformation pillars.
We also celebrated long term service milestones of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years!
For me, every week is Public Service Recognition Week and I take great pride every day in the work that my staff does. Each member of the National Archives staff plays a vital role in fulfilling our mission of collecting, protecting, and making access happen. Congratulations to each one of you!
Read the full post on the AOTUS blog