National Constitution Center

Philadelphia
PA

A few of the 39 signers and three dissenters
at the National Constitution Center

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Opened in 2003, the nonprofit Center “illuminates constitutional ideals and inspires acts of citizenship” by providing a theatrical overview, multimedia history, interactive exhibits, and life-size statues of the signers of the Constitution. Includes periodic special exhibits.

Much of the information is general (for example visitors will not learn about the special role of James Madison at the Constitutional Convention of 1787), but the cumulative impact will be worthwhile for adults and older children.

Associated People

What ultimately convinced Americans that they must revolt in 1776 was not that they were naturally and inevitably republican, for if that were truly the case evolution, not revolution, would have been the eventual solution. Rather it was the pervasive fear that they were not predestined to be a virtuous and egalitarian people that in the last analysis drove them into revolution in 1776. It was this fear and not their confidence in the peculiarity of their character that made them so readily and so remarkably responsive to Thomas Paine’s warning that the time for independence was at hand and that delay would be disastrous. By 1776 it had become increasingly evident that if they were to remain the kind of people they wanted to be they must become free of Britain.

Gordon S. Wood
The Creation of the American Republic, 1776—1787 (1969)