How Are America’s Founding Documents Being Protected?

To get a glimpse of some of America's most important documents, you have to visit the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where the papers are protected by bulletproof glass. While you examine them, armed guards keep an eye on you. But that's nothing compared to what happens when the doors close. That's when the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution get lowered into an underground vault built to withstand an atomic explosion. The documents, collectively known as the Charters of Freedom, represent the founding and growth of America, from its decision to break from British rule to the laws forming the framework of our government. Therefore, they require the ultimate in protection. The vault where the documents spend their nights was originally built in 1953, at the height of the Cold War, by the Mosler Safe Co. The firm had earned its stripes by building a bank safe that survived the 1945 atomic attack on Hiroshima, Japan. In the early 2000s, the Archives vault was updated by Ohio-based bank technology firm Diebold as part of a $110-million renovation of the National Archives building.

Documenting American history:

  • America declared its freedom from Britain via the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776, not July 4, as is often believed.

  • The oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was 81 and needed help signing his name to ratify the Constitution.

  • Massachusetts, Georgia, and Connecticut didn't officially ratify the Bill of Rights until 1939, more than 100 years after other states.

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More Info: Atlas Obscura

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