Shaping North America

The following pages present descriptions and context for all of the items shown in the lobby exhibit with some representative images. Please visit the lobby of Library Hall at 105 South Fifth Street to see this exhibit in its entirety.

Shaping North America: Politics & Exploration

The American Philosophical Society presents a selection of material illustrating the political and physical delineation of North America in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.

Shaping North America

William Penn’s Charter of Privileges, with its emphasis upon tolerance and freedom of conscience, enshrined the ideals of English dissenters in Pennsylvania’s provincial government. Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence articulates the American colonies’ position on the geopolitical stage and reflects the philosophical ideals of the Enlightenment.

The journals of Lewis and Clark chronicle the literal mapping of the continent’s interior, undertaken on behalf of a government interested in economic exploitation as well as scientific discovery. The letters and photographs of a railway surveyor document the corporate exploration and development of Canada’s western provinces in the early twentieth century.