We the People

June 1, 1975 – December 31, 1976

National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, East Wing Floor Plan

Taking its name from the preamble to the Constitution, the exhibition's 3 major sections, displaying more than 6,000 objects, explore the meaning of Lincoln's immortal words, "...government of the people, by the people, for the people."

"Of the People" displays symbols by which the U.S. is recognized around the world, such as the American eagle adorning objects from quilts to weathervanes. A continuous film on the role of the census documents the rapidly changing American life. Also on view in this section is an array of official gifts to the nation, including gold muskets from Morocco and a model of Mount Vernon made of pearls from Japan.

"By the People" examines the roots of American democracy and the American political process. On view in this section is a range of presidential artifacts ranging from chinaware bearing the image of George Washington, to a cutaway section of John Kennedy's campaign airplane, the "Caroline." A large-scale diorama of protesters marching in front of the Capitol dramatizes the right of petition.

"For the People" defines the areas of responsibility the people have granted their government. On view are objects related to westward expansion, foreign and domestic wars, and services "promoting the general welfare."