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Selection of U.S. historical treasures exhibited at the Morgan Library & Museum this fall
George Washington (1732–1799), Letter to Henry Knox, Mount Vernon, Virginia, 1 April 1789. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
NEW YORK, NY.- This fall, the Morgan Library & Museum will display a selection of exceptional documents from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, one of the country’s foremost collections of Americana. The presentation, which will be on view from September 10, 2013, represents transformative moments and key figures in U.S. history, and reflects the collection’s strengths in documents from the Revolutionary, early national, antebellum, and Civil War periods. Reflections on a Nation will be on view in the Morgan’s 1906 McKim building through January 12, 2014.

The Morgan has enjoyed a nearly two-decade-long relationship with the Gilder Lehrman Institute, which was founded by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman in 1994. That same year the Morgan presented Seeds of Discord: The Politics of Slavery, an acclaimed exhibition featuring documents from the collection.

On view in Reflections on a Nation will be the only surviving copy of a 1776 edition of the Declaration of Independence printed in the South. South Carolinian Peter Timothy put his life on the line by publishing his name on the document. Indeed, four years later he was arrested, charged with treason, and confined to a British prison ship before being incarcerated in St. Augustine, Florida.

In 1789, thirteen years after the commencement of the Revolutionary War, George Washington reluctantly assumed the presidency of the United States. In a letter penned to secretary of war Henry Knox, Washington expressed his apprehensions: “my movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied with feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution.”

Displayed alongside a first edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin will be the author’s letter to Albert, Prince Consort and husband of Queen Victoria. Written to accompany a presentation copy of her novel, the letter conveys Stowe’s deep admiration for Britain’s abolition of slavery throughout the Empire in 1833.

In a stump speech fragment from Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 Senate campaign against Stephen Douglas, he argues that all creatures are entitled to the fruits of their own labor and appeals to the public’s common sense: “Although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it, by being a slave himself.”

Also on display will be a poignant letter from Frederick Douglass to Mary Todd Lincoln. In it, Douglass thanks the president’s widow for the gift of her husband’s walking stick, noting that it was not merely a memento, but an indication of Lincoln’s “humane interest [in the] welfare of my whole race.”





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September 10, 2013

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Selection of U.S. historical treasures exhibited at the Morgan Library & Museum this fall

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