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Grant number: GI-230836-15

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National Constitution Center (Philadelphia, PA 19106-1514)
Jeffrey Rosen (Project Director: January 2015 to present)

The Second Founding: An Initiative to Celebrate the New Birth of Freedom and to Debate the Common Good

The National Constitution Center’s Second Founding Initiative will celebrate the 150th Anniversaries of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution over the next five years. The initiative includes a series of partnerships that will create the first and only gallery in America devoted to the consitutional legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction. It will be supervised by a non-partisan national advisory board, chaired by Supreme Court Justice  Sandra Day O’Connor that will oversee five years of civic debate and education about the historic and contemporary  meaning of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. For years, students and citizens have been taught a version of American history that treats the unfinished business of slavery, the challenge to the Union, and the ratification of the Reconstruction Ammendments as separate from the miracle of 1787. In truth, it was only after passage of these Ammendments that the promise of equality in Jefferson’s Declaration  of Independence began to be vindicated and the Constitution  began to extend its inspiring guarantees of liberty to all of We The People. To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Reconstruction Amendments , the National Constitution Center’s plans begin with the Second Founding  Initiative launch on February 12, 2014. The National Constitution Center will mark the launch day with appearances by Justice O’Connor and leading Reconstruction scholars in a Town Hall program that focuses on the importance of Reconstruction Amendments, the historical and consitutional  significance of the Thirteenth Amendment, and to be the start of our five-year series of debates and symposia on the topic. Our Second Founding launch day will also feature a temporary exhibit showcasing an original Thirteenth Amendment. The project’s purpose is to educate the public about the true contours of the Reconstruction Amendments, which are often misconstrued in hot-button political issues of today. We have tremendous confidence in its public appeal and civic importance. 

Project fields:

Exhibitions: Implementation

Public Programs

Total amounts:
$30,000 (approved)
$21,842 (awarded)

Grant period:
2/1/2015 – 2/28/2015