Declaration of Independence Road Trip

Declaration of Independence Road Trip

In 2000, Lyn and Norman Lear purchased a rare, original copy of the Declaration of Independence with the goal of bringing “the people’s document” directly to the American people.

Launched on July 4, 2001, the Declaration of Independence (DOI) Road Trip was founded as a three-and-a-half year cross-country tour whose mission was to engage and energize all Americans, particularly young people, by bringing this rare copy of nothing less than the nation’s birth certificate to them — to where they live, small town or big city. This non-profit nonpartisan project inspired Americans to participate in civic activism, to exercise their rights and to vote.

With the indispensable help of architect David Rockwell, philanthropists Ken Langone and Bob Nardelli, and Postmaster General John C. Potter, whose Postal Service became the tour’s “official carrier,” the multimedia exhibition presented the document in both historical and contemporary contexts. Historical and current photographs, video and music illustrated the lasting values and ideals embodied by the revered document that first set forth the celebrated words “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” The exhibition also highlighted social and political movements that helped shape the United States and continue to influence countries around the world.

The exhibit also featured a reading of the Declaration of Independence from inside Independence Hall in Philadelphia by a group of distinguished actors, including Morgan Freeman, Kathy Bates, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, Graham Greene, Ming-Na, Edward Norton, Winona Ryder, Mel Gibson, Kevin Spacey, and Renee Zellweger.

During the decade that the Lears owned and toured the document, it traveled to some 100 cities in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, with special stops at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the Super Bowl in New Orleans, the Daytona 400 NASCAR race, Mount Rushmore, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial, along with visits to more than a half dozen Presidential libraries.