The FDR Library Will Display Washington’s “Acts of Congress” August 13-23

HYDE PARK, NY — From August 13 to August 23, 2013, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, the National Archives and Records Administration and George Washington's Mount Vernon will display President Washington's personal copy of the Constitution, "Acts of Congress," at the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York. An opening reception and talk by Mount Vernon Ladies' Association Vice Regent Boyce Ansley will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home. The opening is a free public event and attendees can see the "Acts of Congress" exhibit — which will include several items from the Roosevelt Library's own collections — after the program, free of charge. After the program on the evening of August 13, regular museum admission will be charged to view the display. For information call Cliff Laube at (845) 486-7745.

"Acts of Congress" is a remarkably well-preserved book that includes Washington's copy of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other legislation passed by the first session of Congress, complete with his personal annotations. It will be displayed at the FDR Presidential Library alongside two items from the Library' collections: George Washington's traveling secretary desk — presented to FDR while he was serving as Governor of New York State — and a letter from General George Washington to Major General Lord Stirling regarding troop movements in Princeton, New Jersey, 1778.

"Acts of Congress" garnered world-wide attention last summer when it was offered for sale and then broke world records for an American historical document at auction. The 106-page volume is emblazoned with Washington's bookplate and features his handwritten notes penciled in the margins.  Washington received the book in 1789, his first year in office as U.S. president, and brought it with him to Mount Vernon upon his retirement from public office in 1797.

One of the early customs for the Congress' official printer was to prepare bound copies of the acts passed by the legislative branch which would be presented as permanent keepsakes for the country's leaders. Prominent recipients included Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, and our first president, George Washington, who all received these beautifully bound versions of the book.

"Acts of Congress" is currently traveling the country to be displayed at all 13 Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said, "We are grateful to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association for sharing the First President's original documents with our Presidential Libraries across the country."

This nationwide tour was originally conceptualized by Mount Vernon as a means of spreading awareness for The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, which opens September 27, 2013.  The Library is not part of the National Archives presidential library system.

"Through this special partnership with the National Archives, Mount Vernon can now share this incredible piece of history with the American people and raise awareness about George Washington's new library," said Curt Viebranz, Mount Vernon president.

For tour details and to learn more about special events and educational programming opportunities please visitwww.archives.gov/exhibits/acts-of-congress.                

The remaining schedule is as follows:

  • July 30 - August 11: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
  • August 13 - August 23: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
  • August 26 - September 09: George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
  • September 12 - September 21: Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum

After the tour, the Acts of Congress will eventually take permanent residence at The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. Located just opposite the main entrance to Washington's estate, the Library will serve as a place to safeguard Washington's documents as well as a gathering place for leaders and scholars.

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