Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public information: (202) 707-4604

September 2, 1999

Joint Exhibition with the British Library Opens November 17
"John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations"

A major new exhibition, "John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations," opens November 17 in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, First and Independence Ave. S.E. The exhibition is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. No tickets are required. The exhibition closes at the Library of Congress on March 4, 2000. It will then move to The British Library for an opening at a date yet to be determined.

This is the second in a series of exhibitions celebrating the Library's bicentennial theme "Libraries, Creativity, and Liberty." Future exhibitions include "Thomas Jefferson: Genius of Liberty" and "The Wizard of Oz: An American Fairy Tale," both opening on April 24, 2000.

"John Bull and Uncle Sam" features more than 200 rare and original treasures tracing the relationship between the United States and Great Britain, from pre-Revolutionary times to the present day. The collections of two greatest library collections in the English-speaking world will be brought to bear to look at seven topics: the Age of Exploration and Settlement; the American Revolution; War: From Enemies to Allies; Reform Movements; Technology; Popular Culture; and Language and Literature. Much of the material has never been on exhibit in either country. Some of the rarest and most valuable objects will travel for the first, and possible the only time.

Included also will be audio-visual selections. They will document historical events and prominent figures from World War I to the present day, as well as humorous clips depicting ways in which each culture has caricatured the other, from Monty Python and Benny Hill to W.C. Fields and Laurel and Hardy. Various pairs of American and British personalities will be given special attention, such as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson.

"The Age of Exploration and Settlement" section includes:

  • A large Dutch map (ca. 1595) documenting the circumnavigation of the globe by Sir Francis Drake
  • The only known portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh (c. 1544-1618) made during his lifetime
  • "General Observations for the Plantation of New England" (ca. 1629) by John Winthrop that was recently discovered in the Library of Congress
  • A bill of sale for a slave that was sold to a bishop

Items from the section on the American Revolution will include:

  • Thomas Jefferson's original "Rough Draft" of the Declaration of Independence, one of the Library's "top treasures," written in 1776
  • A sheet of stamps that were printed for the notorious Stamp Act of of 1765 which led to the colonies protesting "taxation without representation"
  • Paul Revere's famous engraving of the Boston Massacre
  • A proclamation by King George III declaring the colonies to be in "open rebellion"
  • A map used by the British and American peace negotiators to delineate the boundaries of what became the United States

"War: From Enemy to Ally" includes:

  • An illustration of the British burning the Library of Congress during the War of 1812
  • A book that was taken as a souvenir by the British admiral who directed the assault on the U.S. Capitol, where the Library of Congress was then located
  • A copy of the lyrics to the American national anthem in Francis Scott Key's own hand and the score for the British tune to which it was set, "Ancreaon in Heaven"
  • A stamp bearing the likeness of Jefferson Davis and the die used to produce it in England
  • Queen Victoria's letter to Mary Todd Lincoln after the president was assassinated
  • The famous American "Uncle Sam" recruiting poster of 1917 and an earlier British poster upon which it was based
  • W. Somerset Maugham's manuscript of his novel "Of Human Bondage," given as a gift to the Library of Congress in gratitude for American war efforts
  • Lewis Carroll's original manuscript, with the author's illustrations, of "Alice's Adventure's Underground," given to The British Library in return

The "Reform" section includes:

  • The first publication in the Anglo-American world to advocate the abolition of slavery: a volume by the British Quaker Elizabeth Heyrick from 1824
  • An address by Ralph Waldo Emerson on August 1, 1844, in honor of the anniversary of Britain's emancipation of the slaves in the West Indies
  • A speech by Frederick Douglass upon leaving Great Britain, praising the racial justice he experienced in Great Britain
  • Original sketches for the British edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • The draft of the Emancipation Proclamation in Lincoln's own hand
  • Original speeches, graphics, posters, photographs, and songs documenting the women's suffrage movement on both sides of the Atlantic

"Technology" features:

  • Printed works relating to the invention of the steam engine by Scotsman James Watt (1736- 1819) and its adaptation to a boat by American John Fitch in 1787
  • Other illustrations showing American and British advances in bridge and canal-building, railroads, telegraphs, architecture, computer- building, medicine and other forms of technology, including an illustration of the flush toilet, perfected by Englishman Thomas Crapper in 1884

"Popular Culture" includes:

  • An illustrated children's book printed in England 1760, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, showing an early form of the game of baseball and the earliest known use of the word
  • Other items relating to the shared American and British history in sports such as horse racing, golf, boxing, and football
  • Sheet music, photographs of Shakespearean actors, Gilbert and Sullivan manuscripts, and posters advertising wild west shows in London
  • Publicity materials from the Beatle's first album, "Meet the Beatles"
  • An original holograph score of a musical composition by Paul McCartney
  • Other items relating to Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and other American musicians

"Language and Literature" includes:

  • A large American-made "Pictorial Chart of English Literature" shows the influence of English literature in American into the 20th century
  • An American-British dictionary issued to American soldiers in World War II
  • A letter from Mark Twain to his British publishers about Huckleberry Finn
  • The first American edition of Shakespeare's plays (1795)
  • A manuscript page from a novel by Charles Dickens, as well as the author's walking stick and traveling cutlery kit
  • Oscar Wilde's fan letter to Walt Whitman
  • James Joyce's notes on Ulysses

Note to editors: Illustrations are available from the Public Affairs Office (202) 707-9189

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PR 99-127
ISSN 0731-3527

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