Colonists
Citizens
Constitutions

About

The Colonists, Citizens, Constitutions exhibition is currently at the New-York Historical Society, New York. It will travel to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, at a later date.

Highlighting rare documents from the extensive collection of Americana from the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation, 42 objects tell the story of how our state and federal constitutions were imagined, formulated, written and approved by ordinary people — people who had arrived as colonists, then, through revolution and self-determination, made themselves citizens, while codifying their philosophies of governance and human rights through the writing of constitutions.

With a particular emphasis on the importance and development of state constitutions, the exhibition also features a first printing of the United States Constitution from 1787, as well as the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776. State constitutions were relied upon as examples for the original writing of our federal constitution — and they continue to percolate new or modified desires and directions for our government.

This exhibition, and its accompanying catalog, should help to remind and inspire everyone to believe in our institutions, our rule of law, and our historical transformation from colonists to American citizens. We must all remember that we can have an impact on our future with acts as simple as voting, or as complex as running for office; hard-won participation in the governance of the United States is open to any and all citizens — it is also its lifeblood. This is how we became a nation, and this is how we will keep our republic strong.

In future, this site will remain and be available as an expanded resource for research, history, and education. With hundreds of additional documents made available in full, and with links to some of the numerous institutions and additional sites that encourage a deeper understanding of our American beginnings and continuing history, the Foundation looks forward to sharing a greater number of its holdings with the public.

Pre-Civil War, Thirteen-Star Flag of the United States
Hand-sewn single-appliqué cotton stars and wool bunting stripes on cotton canvas-type hoist
25 x 56 ½ inches
Maker Unknown, ca. 1840-50