Historical Documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection On Exhibit This Fall

New York, NY, August 19, 2013—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.”

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

The Gilder Lehrman Institute, founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, is a nonprofit devoted to the teaching and learning of American history. The Institute’s twenty-year track record of providing teacher training and classroom resources, drawing on a roster of leading historians and a collection of more than 60,000 primary source documents, has earned Gilder Lehrman international recognition, including awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians. Each year, the Institute offers support and resources to tens of thousands of teachers, and, through them, enhances the education of hundreds of thousands of students of all backgrounds across public, including charter, private, and parochial schools. For further information, visit www.gilderlehrman.org or call (646) 366-9666.

Public Program

Learning from Lincoln: Original Documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection

With Lewis E. Lehrman

Tuesday, October 1, 6:30 pm

To coincide with Reflections on a Nation, Lewis E. Lehrman, co-founder of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and author of Lincoln at Peoria and numerous articles, talks about Lincoln and why documents matter in American history. Pierpont Morgan’s 1906 Library and Reflections on a Nation will be open at 5:30 pm for program attendees. 


$15; $10 for Members; Free for students and teachers with valid ID.

www.themorgan.org/programs; 212-685-0005 x560

Organization and Sponsorship

Reflections on a Nation is organized by Sandra Trenholm, Curator and Director, Gilder Lehrman Collection.

The programs of the Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The Morgan Library & Museum

The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, independent research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan’s private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets.


The Morgan Library & Museum

225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016-3405



Just a short walk from Grand Central and Penn Station


Tuesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; extended Friday hours, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The Morgan closes at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. 


$18 for adults; $12 for students, seniors (65 and over), and children (13-16); free to Members and children 12 and under accompanied by an adult. Admission is free on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is not required to visit the Morgan Shop and Café.

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