Thomas Jefferson’s Desk
On this desk Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in June 1776. Jefferson himself had designed the desk, including a hinged writing board and a locking drawer for papers, pens, and inkwell. The desk was Jefferson’s companion as a Revolutionary patriot, American diplomat, and president of the United States.
Adopting the Constitution, 1787–1788
After a long war and many disputes, supporters of the U.S. Constitution declared the need for a stable, central government to “secure the blessings of liberty” to Americans. But could the growing nation pull together? The states had not always cooperated with one another. Congress had been too weak to counter European and Native American powers or to settle conflicts within or between states. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention agreed to shift power to the central government. At the same time, they provided that federal government officials be elected, either directly or indirectly, so as to represent the people as a whole.