Preview Case: American Democracy

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. Through the museum’s rich collections the exhibition will examine the material culture of our founding political principles, forms of popular political participation, and citizenship in a pluralistic society.


World War II Treasury Department Billboard

This image, said to be the most popular poster design of World War II, appeared as a billboard in 1941. Carl Paulson created the design under the direction of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Inc., for a U.S. Treasury Department campaign promoting the widespread public ownership of defense bonds and stamps. To demonstrate the power of advertising while selling bonds, the billboard industry displayed this image of the American flag at more than 30,000 locations in some 18,000 cities and towns across the country in March and April 1942. The Treasury brought back the billboard for campaigns in July 1942 and 1943. To meet public demand for copies of the billboard, the Government Printing Office printed 4 million small color reproductions.

You can read more about assembling and displaying the billboard on the American History blog.