tv Constituting Liberty Exhibit CSPAN August 19, 2016 3:15pm-4:03pm EDT
about the people who shaped the civil war and reconstruction. and the presidency focuses on u.s. presidents and first ladies to learn about their politics, policies, and legacies. all this month in primetime and every weekend on american history tv on c-span3. >> each week, american history tv's american artifacts visits museums and historic places. and up next, a visit to the national constitution center in philadelphia to learn about the exhibit constituting liberty from the declaration to the bill of rights. our tour guide is president and ceo jeffrey rosen. >> the national constitution center is a very special place. it's the only institution in america that has a charter from congress to disseminate information about the u.s. constitution on a nonpartisan basis. that means we bring together all sides in the constitutional
debates that transfix america to debate not political issues but constitutional issues so you the people can make up your own mind. we do that in three ways. with the museum of we the people, which is this beautiful museum here on independence hall in philadelphia, and i'm looking out on one of the most beautiful constitutional views in america, independence hall, where the declaration of independence and the constitution were drafted. also america's town hall, a center for debates and symposiums and podcasts and you can find us on c-span and online at constitutioncenter.org, and a center for constitutional education, and we're building the best interactive constitution on the web so you can click on any provision of the constitution, hear the best arguments on both sides about it history and contemporary meaning and decide what you think it means. but today is a very exciting day for me because i have the chance to share with you our president george h.w. bush gallery, which displays rare copies of the
declaration of independence, the constitution, and the bill of rights. we're now one of the only places in america aside from the national archives where you can see rare copies of these three priceless charters of freedom in one place. what we have tried to do in this gallery is tell a story. a story of the evolution of rights and in particular how the rights that were promised in the declaration of independence are implicit in the constitution and were finally codified in the bill of rights. so let me sort of set the stage by telling about the evolution of rights and we can look at each of the documents and talk about what it means. so what we have tried to do in this gallery is tell the story about the relationship between the declaration, the constitution, and the bill of rights. and we have written up a pamphlet which you can find online that's thrilling and completely incisive pamphlet which happens to be written by me and david rubenstein, who has lent the rare copy of the
declaration of independence. we were trying to encapsulate and set the stage by talking about their similarities and differences. here's our introduction. the declaration of independence, the constitution and bill of rights are the three most important documents in american history. they express the ideals that define we the people of the united states and inspire free people around the world. how did each document influence the next? in america's ongoing quest for liberty and equality? our three core documents have different purposes, still all have preamble. all were drafted by people of similar backgrounds, generally educated white men of property. most importantly, the declaration, the constitution, and the bill of rights are based on the idea that all people have certain fundamental and inherent rights that governments are created to protect. the declaration, the constitution, and the bill of rights are in many ways fused together in the minds of americans because they represent
what is best about america. they are symbols of the liberty that allows us to achieve success and equality that insures we're all equal in the eyes of the law. so underlying each of the three documents is a philosophy. and it's a philosophy of rights and in particular of natural rights. what was a natural right? the framers disagree about many things, but they agreed that all men, men and women, have certain unalienable, inherent, and fundamental rights. these rights in us by virtue of the fact we're human. they come from god or nature, not from government, and the framers believed that these rights could be discerned by the mind of men, by reason. and they talked often about the same kind of rights as being natural and unalienable. the right to worship god according to the dictates of conscious. the rights of enjoying life and liberty, and pursuing and
obtaining happiness and safety and in particular, in some ways most importantly of all, they talked about the unalienable right of individuals to alter and abolish government wherever it becomes destructive of these ends. there was a theory of the nature the framers absorbed from philosophers like john locke and thomas jefferson read these philosophers as did george mason, the author of the virginia declaration of rights. jefferson when he wrote his declaration of independence had beside him at his desk two documents, the virginia declaration written by george mason and his own virginia constitution, which jefferson had drafted. so what was the philosophy of natural rights? the basic idea is when we're born in the state of nature, before we move into civil society, we're inhered with these certain fundamental
rights. when we move into the state of nature, we surrender to the government or alienate temporary control over certain rights, but the point of that is to insure better security and safety of the rights we have retained. that's why we give the government temporary control over punishment of private bounds. to protect our rights of life. we give the government the ability to regulate certain natural rights in order to protect the rights we retain. but there are certain things we can't alienate. i can't alienate to you my right to worship god or not because my religious beliefs and opinions and freedom of thought is the product of reason, operating on my external sensation. so that's why conscience is an unalienable natural right. it might be the case when government become tyrannical and menaces and threatens these rights rather than protecting them. basically, breaking the terms of the social contract.
under those circumstances, the framers believed people had not only a right but an obligation to alter and abolish government so it would protect the rights rather than threatening them. that really is the idea that unites the three documents, the declaration, the constitution, and bill of rights. you have the declaration, which is a document that is breaking way from england because of the claim that the king of england had broken the social contract and was threatening basic unalienable natural rights. you have the constitution, which creates a frame of government energetic enough to achieve common purposes like taxing for war and regulating the economy, but is also constrained enough so it protects rights rather than threatening them, and finally the bill of rights itself which actually spells out the basic rights that the framers believed were natural and unalienable, for the greater security and safety of insuring that the government is going to keep its ends of the bargain. there's a great drama about whether or not to list the
rights that had to be protected, whether that was a good idea or a bad idea. that was one of the main divisions that divided the constitutional convention and so let's go inside the gallery. let's look at the declaration of independence, step back a sec, and think about what jefferson was trying to achieve and how the ideals and promises of liberty and equality that he declared ultimately evolved through the constitution and ended up in the bill of rights. so this is the george w. bush bill of rights gallery. the first document that we see as we come in here is a rare copy of the declaration of independence. this is the one that was lent to us by david rubenstein and this is really remarkable story about how this document came to pass. the copy of the declaration that most people think about is in the national archives.
that was the one that the framers famously signed, that john hancock vividly said i'm going to sign so big that king george can read it without his spectacles. that's hancock's big signature. the thing about the document that is now in the national archives is even by the 1820s, it was becoming beat. it was really beat up when dolley madison rolled it up to save it during the war of 1812, and president john quincy adams became concerned that the original was going to fade so much that it couldn't be read. so he commissioned in 1820 an engraver called stone to make a perfect copy of the declaration that would look even more like the real thing than any other print. there was only one problem. stone came up with, by some accounts, a rather cutting edge copying technique that involved taking a wet cloth, which was soaked with acid, and lifting half of the ink off of the
original declaration and putting it on a copper plate that was made to make this copy. it was also the original declaration was even worse shape that the one that originally was, but this spectacular copy is pristine and looked more like the copy the framers signed in 1776 than the one in the archives. the bad news for the original declaration, good news for those of us lucky enough to have copies of this precious stone declaration. 200 cop as were originally made and sent out to important institutions and public officials. about 27 or so of these copies survived, and this is one of them. so now let's talk about the ideas that are represented in this declaration. the declaration of independence has three parts. it had a preamble which now has become the most important part of the original document. it has a middle section listing the sins of the king of england
and a third section declaring america is going to break free of england. it's the preamble, the first section, that essentially contains the entire theory of american government in a single paragraph. if you want to understand the natural rights philosophy that animated the framers, all you have to do is return to the preamble. i could try to do it by heart, but i'm going to read the preamble. i was going to read my cheat sheet, which is a pocket copy of the constitution. the second paragraph of the declaration of independence. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, they're endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. but to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed.
that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends, it's the right of the people to alter and abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to then shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. there it is. that language about the right of the people to alter and abolish government. that's the fundamental and unalienable right of revolution. and that's a right that you can't surrender to government even if you want to because it's what insures that government is going to keep its end of the bargain and protect your natural rights rather than threatening them. that right to alter and abolish government was what the signers of the declaration were exercising when they risked their lives, their fortune, their sacred honor for the incredibly risky move of declaring independence from britain and constituting a new government and that right we'll see in our next document, the constitution, codified in article v, which allows people to amend the constitution when
they think it needs to be changed. that's why that paragraph is incredibly important. the declaration of independence is not only a promise of liberty, but it's also a promise of equality. that's the most famous second sentence of the preamble. i can read it quite well. let me read it again. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. that promise of equality, of course, was one that jefferson violated in his personal conduct, the fact that he had and kept slaves, and we had an incredibly moving exhibit called jefferson and slavery that was at the constitution center recently that came to us from monticello and tells the story of the traces jefferson's descendants, with sally hemings and reminds us so vividly of the clash between jefferson's ideals and his actions. and other framers, too, had slaves, and the blight of
slavery was one that divided the original constitutional convention and almost prevented it from being ratified. here we have this promise of equality and we realize looking forward that jefferson's promise that all men are created equal wasn't vindicated until the civil war. it took lincoln's promise at gettysburg, a new birth of freedom. it took the bloodiest war in american history, where 17,000 men were killed. 23,000 killed or wounded, and finally, and most importantly, it took the post-civil war amendments to the constitution, the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery, which turns 150 this year, which you can see at the constitution center. we have an original copy of the 13th amendment, also lent by david rubenstein, which is signed by abraham lincoln and is the beginning of the fulfillment of jefferson's promise.
then the 14th amendment which guarantees equality to all persons and prohibits states as well as the government to deny liberties or privileges or immunities to citizens and the 15th amendment which gave african-americans the right to vote. all three of those turn 150 over the next five years. we're commemorating, celebrating, and debating their meaning here at the national constitution center, but we have to be reminded that the declaration was essentially a promissory note. jefferson offered the ideal of equality, but it took the civil war, it took that astonishing sacrifice of life and treasure and blood to incorporate these amendments into the constitution and make the promise of equality a reality. so now it is time to look at, to stand in the presence of the
first public printing of the constitution. this is a very exciting document as well. so there are several important original copies of the constitution. there's the one that was signed in philadelphia at independence hall in 1787. now in the national archives. there are engrossed copies of the first public printings of them, but this is the first copy that we the people of the united states actually saw. it's called the pennsylvania packet, and that's because it was printed in the pennsylvania packet newspaper on september 19th, 1787, two days after the constitution was signed on september 17th, which we celebrate as constitution day. the pennsylvania packet was a newspaper that was owned by john dunlap and david claypool. john dunlap had a great gig. he was the printer who did the engrossed or original copies of the declaration of the constitution and on the side he ran one of philadelphia's
biggest and best read newspapers, it was called the pennsylvania packet. it sold for 4 pence, as you can see here, and what's so exciting about this document is that it's the first copy that we the people of the united states actually read and saw. so that's why some scholars believe that this copy is even more constitutionally significant than the one in the national archives, because after all, the constitution did not become the supreme law of the land when congress proposed it in independence hall. it took the ratification and special conventions to give it the weight of supreme law. in order to become ratified, there had to be a national debate, and citizens read and debated arguments like the federalist papers written by madison and hamilton that were published as pamphlets and gave
justification for the constitution. there were opposing pamphlets by those who thought it shouldn't be ratified. the popular debate was center to what makes the constitution our supreme law, and imagine people clamoring to get this newspaper, wondering what had happened in secret in constitution hall, and seeing this incredibly plain newspaper, no ads, just a printing of the entire text of the constitution with a little bit of preambulatory material. it says it's signed by george washington, the president of the convention. it has a preamble that says the states, it lists all of them individually, resolved this be sent out to the people for ratification, and there's a letter from george washington as well. you can see it on both sides. the ss are written like fs in the style of the day, which can be a little jarring at the beginning. we the people of the united states in order to form a more
perfect union, looks like f-stablished justice. but you get used to it as you go along, and here's the constitution of the united states. here we are, let's imagine we are the citizens of philadelphia, picking it up. i don't know if they got it from news stands or if it was posted on the street, reading it and trying to decide whether or not they would allow the ratifying conventions to approve it and to speak in their name. why was the constitution proposed? after jefferson wrote the declaration of independence, the revolutionary war was fought, and the 13 colonies created a government under document known as the articles of confederation. passed in 1777 by the continental congress. it was drafted in 1776 and approved in 1777. so we see from the explanation
that it was six pages long. it contained 13 articles, but there was a problem with the articles of confederation. it was too loose a union. and as a result, the government that resulted was not strong enough to wage war, to maintain fiscal unity, to manage the economy. during the revolutionary war, george washington famously struggled to get the funds necessary to actually conduct the war. he was always writing to the continental congress asking for more money. under the articles of confederation, the colonies were not able to avoid that problem with lack of coordination. as a result, there was unrest. debtors rebellions transfixed the framers. shea's rebellion in massachusetts where debtors rioted and refused to pay creditors alarmed people like james madison who believed the first object of government was the protection of private property. and madison, therefore, and
others like him, faced a dilemma. on the one hand, they wanted the government that was strong enough to do what the articles of confederation could not do, which was to allow the raising of taxes for war and economic union, but on the other hand, they wanted a government constrained enough not to menace the basic unalienable natural rights that they thought the government was created to protect. so this is the central drama in the constitution. how to create that balance. and there were different proposals for structuring the government. there were proposals to create the legislature, that is one house or a bicameral
legislature, two houses, and that was the option eventually chosen, blending representations from the small states who each got two votes in the senate, with representation from the large states, who were represented by population in the house. that separation of the house and senate was one of the ways that madison and the other framers insisted on separating power to insure that one branch didn't become tyrannical and dominate the others. madison was most concerned about tyranny in the legislative branch. he saw what happened to states legislatures onto the articles, threatened private property and refused to pay the war debts. so he wants to constrain congress. in article one of the constitution, he set out a government of limited powers, but the idea is that the power isn't granted, then it's reserved or retained by the people. the presidency is also spelled out, although there was less attention paid to the president and abused by the executive branch than the legislative branch and also the judicial branch is created as well. at the constitutional convention, toward the end, a big debate arose about whether or not to include a bill of rights. anti-federalists like george mason from virginia, who had written the virginia declaration of rights that was the most important source of jefferson's
declaration of independence, had initially supported the constitution, but became concerned because it didn't include a declaration of rights, the government might menace the natural rights it was created to protect. so mason and two others, gary of massachusetts, and edmund randolph, refused to sign the constitution because it didn't contain a bill of right. james madison initially denied the need for a bill of rights on two grounds. he said it could be unnecessary or dangerous. unnecessary because the constitution itself was a bill of rights by constraining congress and only granting it enumerated powers, it insures government couldn't threaten liberty, but he also worried it wasn't necessary because if you wrote down certain rights, people in the future might assume if the right wasn't written down, it wasn't protected. that's why he initially said no. based on the opposition of the
anti-federalists, people in the states who read copies of the constitution like this one in the pennsylvania packet began to demand a bill of right and several of the state ratifying conventions insists on subsequent amendments as part of the ratification. as a result of this ground swell of popular demand for a bill of rights, james madison changed his mind. one of the great examples of this pragmatic moderate, flexible politician, listening to the will of the people, and in 1789, he went to congress and proposed a bill of rights. we're going to talk about that bill of rights and see one of the 12 surviving original copies in a moment. so now it is time to talk about the bill of rights. we have here commissioned
philadelphia artists to do renditions of each of the ten amendments to the constitution that are known as the bill of rights. and it's a great parlor game. what do you think this one is? i never got them immediately when i saw them, either, but this is speedy trial. the sixth amendment, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy trial. there are two places in the constitution that spell out a specific dollar amount. you see a $20 bill. what amendment is this? why of course, it's the seventh amendment right to civil jury trial, suits of common law with value and controversy exceeds $20, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved. this is the goriest of our amendments, it is the eighth amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments, and with tasteful gothic vividness, we have a couple of very creepy punishments prohibited by the eighth amendment.
this is one of the most hotly contested, the ninth amendment that says that the enumeration of the constitution in certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage people. this is what we talked about a moment ago, if you wrote down certain rights, people might assume it wasn't protected. this says don't assume this is a complete list. people's unalienable lists may contain other rights, and these rights come from god and not from government. there's a lovely version of the tenth amendment, balancing federal and state power. in a form. this is lots of fun. check these out online. constitutioncenter.org, and see what you think of these renditions. we're about to go see one of the most priceless documents in american constitutional history. one of the 12 surviving copies of the bill of rights. in october of 1789, george washington sent 13 copies of the
bill of rights to the states and one to the federal government so that they could debate whether or not to ratify it. 12 of those copies survived. this is one of them. there are two unidentified copies in the national archives, there are two copies, and basically, two of the surviving copies are unidentified. this is one of those unidentified copies. for the past 100 years, it's been in the new york public library, in new york. through a historic and really wonderful sharing agreement, the new york public library and the commonwealth of pennsylvania have agreed to share this priceless original copy of the bill of rights for the next 100 years. you can see it here at the national constitution center for three years and then it will go back to the new york public library and come back to pennsylvania, and it will go back and forth like a precious constitutional football so that
we can share it and display it to the public and as many of you as possible can actually see the original. when we go into see the original copy of the bill of rights, there are a few striking things about it. most striking thing for those of us who think of the bill of rights as being limited to ten amendments is that the original has 12. there are 12 amendments that were sent out to the states for ratification. in fact, james madison had proposed as many as 19 amendments. you will see that the first amendment that's written on the original bill of rights is not the one we thing of. congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech of press. instead, it had to do with the size of congress. it says there shall be one representative of congress for every 40,000 people, essentially. if that amendment had passed, there would be more than 4,000 representatives in congress today. as opposed to 435. imagine the debates that would have resulted. but that reminds us that the framers were centrally concerned
about the size of congress and keeping representatives close to the people. the second amendment, you'll see in a moment, says that congress can't raise its salary without an intervening election. that's the amendment that was eventually ratified in the 1990s and is our 27th amendment. how interesting, isn't it? the first two have to do with power. james madison is concerned about apportionment and abuse of powers of the legislature. our first amendment is the original third amendment. so although we shouldn't for a moment deny the centrality of freedom of speech, it wasn't the concern that was foremost in the framers' mind. they were more concerned about questions involving congressional apportionment. we're about to go in to see the original bill of rights. it's going to be dark because of the extraordinary rare nature of the document, we can't put light on it.
it's encased in an extraordinary carrying case that i'll tell you a little bit about. let's go see the original bill of rights. so this is one of the 12 surviving original copies of the bill of rights. we see john adams' signature on the bottom. he's signing it as vice president of the united states. and president of the tenet. it has a preamble and as i mentioned, there were 13 original copies of the bill of rights. and one for the federal government that were sent out to the states and the feds. 12 of these copies survived. eight states have their original copies and currently display them. four states don't. those states are georgia, maryland, new york, and pennsylvania. this is one of those unidentified copies. that was in the new york public library for 100 years and is now being shared by new york and
pennsylvania for the next 100 years. and sent out by george washington on october 2nd. faded but still very distinct. the question of how states get their copies back has resulted in some amazing detective work. north carolina's original copy went missing for a long time, and it was recently returned to the state of north carolina as a result of an fbi sting operation that was engineered with the help of the national constitution center. you can read that riveting story in a book called "lost right." we're so proud and excited to be displaying this copy with our great partners at the new york public library. it was an amazing example of collaboration to get this document here in a way that was safe to display. this document is encased in a very elaborate carrying case
filled with a gas called argon, which maintained perfect humidity conditions. behind this beautiful and extremely elaborate carrying case is a room that has very perfect humidity control and in the small event anything happened to the carrying case, it would be preserved in the back room, but it's being presented according to the most rigorous preservation standards and we're so excited and honored to be a steward for this remarkable document moving forward. now we move from the 18th century to the 21st century. and this interactive display is in some ways my favorite part of this entire extraordinary and exciting exhibit because you, the people, can engage with it online as well as here at the constitution center.
it's called writing rights, and it was developed with our great partners at constitute, the leading database that collects global constitutions, with seed money provided by google idea. and this interactive that was developed with constitute and zach elkins, who teaches at the university of texas at austin, allows you to do two things. you can trace the documentary sources of the bill of rights, the revolutionary era state constitutions that jefferson and madison drew on in writing the declaration of independence and the bill of rights, and then you can trace the spread of each liberty in the bill of rights across the globe and compare how constitutions around the world protect liberty. so let's -- i love to watch visitors to the constitution center just engaging with this
and clicking on their countries and tracing the sources of the bill of rights. i could spend hours playing with it. let's just check it out. so first, the documentary sources of the bill of rights. i said that madison drew centrally on george mason's virginia declaration which also inspired jefferson. let's look at the amendments that madison proposed that were not ultimately adopted. his first proposal talks about natural rights. it says all powers originally vested in and consequently derived from the people, it talks about the need for government to protect natural rights, and then it says that the people have an inalienable right to reform or change their government when it's inadequate to the purposes of the institution. this takes us right back to the original declaration and reminds us of the centrality of the right to alter and abolish government that everyson put in the declaration.
second proposal was the one we talked about that appears in the original bill of rights as the first amendment, and that's the one that says there has to be one representative in congress for every 40,000 inhabitants. madison's third proposal, this is the one that he thought was the most important in the entire bunch. this was his favorite amendment. and it says no state shall violate the equal rights of conscious for the freedom of press or trial by jury in criminal cases. this would have prevented the states as well as the federal government from violating basic, natural, and common law rights. the original bill of rights only binds the federal government. it says congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. madison would have prevented the states from abridging the freedom of speech. it took the 14th amendment to incorporate the original bill of rights against the states and force the states as well as the federal government to respect basic privileges or immunities and natural rights, as madison intended.
then madison's final proposal, basically says that each department can't exercise the powers of the other one. he was very keen on separating powers to protect liberty and this is his amendment. so there we see the amendments that were not adopted. what about the ones that were? let's take the second amendment, which is the subject of great contemporary controversy. when madison drafted all the amendments, he wasn't making them up out of thin air. he was basically cutting and pasting among the revolutionary era state constitutions adopted in 1776 when the declaration was passed and 1787 when the constitutional convention was called. so the second amendment, there's a big debate today about whether it protects an individual or a collective right. we will see that most of the state versions of the second amendment talk about it as a collective right. they were concerned that federal standing armies should not
displace state militias. and the new york ratifying convention says that a well-regulated militia is the proper natural defense of a free state and talks about standing armies being dangerous to liberty. however, one of the revolutionary -- or -- declarations, the pennsylvania convention minority statement definitely talks about it as an individual right. the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state or for purposes of killing game. so there you see when madison first adopted -- or proposed the second amendment, he phrased it more as a collective than an individual right, although his first draft begins with the right of the people to keep and bear arms. you can see the language changing as it moves through congress on the well regulated militia language is already adopted by the time the house takes it up. then it evolves further into the second amendment that we know today. so you can make up your own mind about whether the pennsylvania
statement itself suggests that the right is an individual right. there is no doubt that by the time of the civil war many more states conceived of the right to bear arms as an individual right, and the supreme court has held that the right is an individual right. but this remarkable tool, so exciting. just lets you pick any amendment you like, look at its historic antecedents. it talks about rights of conscience and speech as a natural right. you can look up george mason's declaration, the virginia declaration of rights and see how the free exercise clause, the virginia declaration, looks so much like ours. you can even see what percentage of the language in the text match. 9% match in that language with free exercise of religion which ended up and our first amendment came from virginia.
so that's the first exciting thing you can do with this great interactive. but that's not all. because you can also take any right in the bill of rights and compare its treatment in constitutions around the globe. so look at this incredible example. right now there is a big debate about the scope of the state surveillance power and the fourth amendment says the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. we've clicked on the fourth amendment and collection of evidence and these countries in yellow are all countries around the world that have a version of the fourth amendment. let's pick japan. for comparison. when general macarthur drafted the japanese constitution after world war ii, he basically cut and paste the american fourth amendment and stuck it right in there. and you click on japan and you see the text of the japanese fourth -- search and seizure provision. it is almost exactly like the
american one. the right of all persons to be secure in their homes, papers and effects against entries, searches and seizures should not be impaired. remarkable 62% of the text matches. you can see how specifically macarthur drew on the american experience. by contrast if we were to click on another country, say russia, we see that their fourth amendment looks nothing like ours. it is this thin protection. nobody shall be obliged to testify against himself, his or her spouse or close relatives, federal law can establish other cases. it's 9% -- or rather, 3% of the content, unlike japan. the russian fourth amendment is very different than ours. so isn't this incredible? just pick whatever right you like. there is a huge debate right now obviously about free speech around the world. we know our first amendment which protects free speech and right now france is going through a remarkable debate about whether or not blasphemy can be protected and hate speech can be criminalized. we see that the french declaration of human rights of
1789 says the free communication of ideas and of opinions is one of the of the most precious rights of man. any citizen may speak, write and publish freely except what is tantamount to the abuse of this liberty. that's a very big exception. france, like most of europe, does regulate hate speech and offenses against dignity far more than the american tradition. right now there is a huge and interesting debate about whether europe should adopt, as it has adopted, a right to be forgotten on the internet that allows people to delete truthful but embarrassing information about themselves. in america you can't do that because of our first amendment. but if you click around the european protections for free speech, even in britain which doesn't have a written constitution but did adopt this human rights act, you can see that the free expression provisions are far less unequivocal than ours because they come from a very different tradition. so i think this is just a thrilling tool.
as i say, it is so exciting to see visitors to the constitution center from australia, for example, coming -- clicking on their country and comparing it with american provisions. or beginning with something that they're especially interested in like gender nondiscrimination, as many young visitors are. seeing which countries have gender discrimination protections. does albania? yes, it does. who knew? so, please, ladies and gentlemen, go online to constitutioncenter.org. you will find this great interactive called rights interactive and study for yourself. there is so much to learn about the constitution and declaration and bill of rights. all of us have not just a opportunity and right, but an obligation as citizens to educate ourselves. that's what this great gallery is about. it is important to come and see the original documents, to stand in their presence, to imagine what it was like to be with the men and they were men at the
time, who ratified the documents. but really, these are not pieces of paper. as madison said, bills of rights are parchment barriers. it is not the documents that protect rights. it is the spirit of liberty in the hearts and minds of the people. and that spirit can only be cultivated by education. so this is a center for education and debate about the constitution. you can educate yourselves by coming here, looking at the documents, but you can also go online, study, choose, compare. our slogan here is "visit, learn, debate." visit the constitution center, seat documents. learn about their historic and contemporary relevance. and most important of all, debate their meaning. because there are good arguments on all sides of the constitutional arguments that transfix america. someone tells you there is a clear answer, reach for your wallet, because there's not. but you've got a lot of learning to do. you've got to familiarize yourself with the text and history and the supreme court
cases and then you can engage in these debates and make up your own mind. thank you so much for being with me this morning. it was so exciting to show this great gallery to you and i look forward to seeing you here at the national constitution center. american history tv airs on c-span3 every weekend telling the american story through events, interviews and visits to historic locations. this month american history tv is in prime time to introduce you to programs you could see every weekend on c-span3. our features include lectures in history, visits to college classrooms across the country to hear lectures by top history professors. american artifacts takes a look at treasures at u.s. historic sites, museums and archives. reel america revealing the 20th century through archival films and news reels. the civil war where you hear about the people who shaped the civil war and reconstruction. and the presidency focuses on u.s. presidents and first ladies to learn about their politics,
policies and legacies. all this month in prime time and every weekend on american history tv on c-span3. coming up this weekend on american history tv on c-span3, as the american parks service prepares to celebrate its 100 anniversary, we'll look at the development of california's federal and state parks. the 1935 u.s. department film "land of the giants," documenting efforts of the u.s. conservation corps and the daily life in the work camps. >> clearing dense undergrowth for the big redwoods for fire prevention and freer growth provides lumber for practically any kind of construction job which may be desirable. the conservation corps boys make everything from heavy bridge timbers to park signs. >> and sunday morning at 8:00, a panel of scholars examines the musical "hamilton," the history that is depicted in the musical
and the relationship between academic history and the history portrayed in popular culture. then at 10:00, on "road to the white house rewind," incumbent president bill clinton and former kansas senator bob dole face off in their first debate of the 1996 presidential campaign. >> the bottom line is we are the strongest nation in the world. we provide the leadership and we're going to have to continue to provide the leadership. but let's do it on our terms when our interests are involved and not when somebody blows the whistle at the united nations. >> i believe the evidence is that our deployments have been successful in haiti, in bosnia. when we moved to kuwait to repel saddam hussein's threatened invasion of kuwait, when i sent the fleet in to the taiwan straits, when we worked hard to end the north korean nuclear threat. i believe the united states is at peace tonight, in part because of the discipline, careful, effective deployment of our military resources.
>> and at 6:00 p.m. eastern on american artifacts, we'll take a tour of arlington house with national park service ranger matthew penrod. built by george washington's step grandson, it was the home of robert e. lee who had married into the family. >> he declared this house a federalist house. this was to represent all the beliefs and ideals of george washington. and that included, once again, the idea that this nation would exist forever. and that no state had a right to leave it. so how ironic is it that that man's daughter would marry robert e. lee who became the great confederate general and perhaps the man who came closest than any other man in history to destroying the nation that was created in the american revolution. >> for our complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org.