Finding the meaning of America’s democracy is a journey each generation takes.

New Day at Federal Hall has commissioned and invited artists and historians, writers and activists, to produce on-site individual reflections of democracy. If the Founders returned, would they say the got it right? Would they say we had? What are the achievements of the past and possibilities for the future? What rights have been delivered, deferred, and/or denied? What are the living ideals of a more perfect Union and how do we flourish?

Towards a More Authentic History

September 30, 2020 — 5:30 PM EST

We launched The Art of Democracy at Federal Hall’s Annual Benefit, and a special 90-minute edition of Debate Defends Democracy.

More info and watch a recording of the event.

Wynton Marsalis

We kicked off our new series The Art of Democracy on September 30, 2020 with Wynton Marsalis’s own interpretation of Democracy & Jazz.

In the hush of the empty Federal Hall Grand Rotunda, this Grammy-winning musician shared his thoughts on what democracy and jazz have in common. He capped his comments with an inspiring solo performance of Amazing Grace, which he called “America’s unofficial anthem.”

Christopher Jackson

Letter to Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Banneker (August 1791)

Actor Christopher Jackson (Hamilton) evokes the restrained passion of free black mathematician and scientist, Benjamin Banneker, in his reading of his now famous letter to Jefferson, in the Federal Hall Grand Rotunda.

Banneker challenged Jefferson and the framers of the Declaration of Independence on their hypocrisy regarding slavery, and the general perpetuation of prejudice against African Americans. He used Jefferson’s own words, “that all men are created equal,” to implore him and others to “wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed with respect to” African Americans.

Use of this video was made possible by Christopher Jackson and Ham4Progress.

Prior Exhibitions