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Today, First Lady Melania Trump and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, visited the National Archives of the United States to view the Emancipation Proclamation and the Charters of Freedom.  David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States and Maureen MacDonald, Special Assistant to the Archivist, joined Mrs. Trump and Secretary Carson during the tour and provided details on the significance of the National Archives and its historic records.

The First Lady and Secretary Carson began their visit in the Rotunda to view the three founding documents of America that constitute the Charters of Freedom: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The First Lady and Secretary Carson continued their visit to the Archivist’s Reception Room to view the 13th Amendment, the 19th Amendment and the 1965 Act that created the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Trevor Plante, director of the Archives Textual Records Division, provided an overview of these documents and pointed out the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation and the progress it made towards equality following the ideals found in the Charters of Freedom. The proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln during the height of the Civil War and declared the freedom of those who were enslaved. Although the proclamation was limited, and directed only to slaves in certain states, it served as a landmark declaration during the height of a great crisis in the history of America and helped to transform the outcome of the Civil War and the end of slavery.

The First Lady and Secretary Carson also viewed General Order Number 3, the proclamation which was announced on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, that all slaves were freed. The document was particularly relevant given its significance to Juneteenth, the annual day of commemoration to celebrate and mark the end of slavery.

The First Lady concluded her visit to the National Archives and stated that “The National Archives is a treasured sanctuary for the written word and a monument to the principles of liberty, justice and equality for all. During our country’s long march towards freedom, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Charters of Freedom continue to reaffirm our country’s democratic ideals and the values that have inspired me and all Americans to this day.”

Mrs. Trump thanked the National Archives for hosting her and Secretary Carson and stressed the vital role that our institutions play in providing access to the important historical documents and records of the United States so that all Americans can better exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens.