We Hold These Truths

I apologize for not keeping everyone on top of the latest news of 1771 the past few weeks. I’ve been a little distracted by everything going on…in 1776.

"When in the Course of human events..."

Thanks to funding from the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Maryland and the General Society of Colonial Wars, Historic Annapolis has created a new exhibit at the William Paca House and Garden entitled We Hold These Truths: Maryland’s Signers and the Declaration of Independence. The state society’s board members cut the ribbon to the new exhibit space and the upgraded visitor orientation room on October 14.

Three men stand in front of a museum exhibit cutting a red ribbon.
Glenn Campbell and Robert Clark of Historic Annapolis and Gregg Hawes of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Maryland cut the ribbon on We Hold These Truths. Photo Credit: Ken Tom

We Hold These Truths was almost a year in the planning, researching, writing, designing, and making, with installation of the interpretive panels and artifact displays taking place through the past month. Mary-Angela Hardwick (VP, Education and Interpretation) and Robin Matty (Curator of Collections) joined me on the exhibit team, and other staff members helped in many ways, both big and small, through the course of the project.

The exhibit reveals “truths” of all sorts about the Declaration of Independence and the four Maryland men who signed it in 1776—William Paca, Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and Thomas Stone. Each of them lived in Annapolis at one time or another, and Annapolis is the only city in the nation that still has surviving houses of all of its state’s signers. But that’s only scratching the surface of their story.

Some of the truths showcased in the exhibit are of the traditionally told “self-evident” variety, and some fall in the often overlooked “otherwise” category. While researching and writing the interpretive content, I discovered plenty of surprising things that I didn’t know before, and I trust that others will learn something new when they visit.

A panoramic photo of a room with colored panels on the wall and three display cases featuring artifacts.

The exhibit’s bold, modern, colorful design visually frees the signers from the stale, stodgy, sepia-toned framework in which they’re often portrayed, encouraging visitors to view the people, events, and ideas associated with our nation’s founding from fresh perspectives. Among the objects on display are personal items that help us see these men as flesh-and-blood individuals rather than remote historic icons—Carroll’s snuffbox, Chase’s cane, Stone’s signet ring, and Paca’s shoe buckles. Artifacts on display in the visitor orientation room help to tell the complex history of William Paca’s home, including its period as part of Carvel Hall hotel, from the signer’s era up to the present.

Admission to We Hold These Truths is included with paid entrance to the William Paca House and Garden, and the exhibit may be viewed as a self-guided experience - hours and admission information for the Paca House and Garden can be found here. To arrange guided school or group tours, please contact us at grouptours@annapolis.org.

Glenn E. Campbell

HA Senior Historian

#exhibition #newexhibit #history #declarationofindependence #foursigners #maryland #marylandhistory #historicannapolis

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