American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith

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Against all odds, eighteenth century Americans declared independence and launched a bold experiment to create a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” American Democracy: The Great Leap of Faith explores how a nation committed to the principles of popular sovereignty debated how to make this idealistic vision work, and what living in a democracy really means. Covering the American past from the Revolution to the present, this exhibition will trace the unfolding of Americans’ experiment through the museum’s rich collections to examine our founding political principles, forms of popular political participation, and citizenship in a pluralistic society. Objects on display will include Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence writing desk, George Washington’s farewell address lamp, the inkstand Lincoln used to draft the Emancipation Proclamation, and the table on which Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments.