The Freedom Shrine

"The heritage of the past is the seed which

brings forth the harvest of the future."

This is the underlying principle and purpose of the Freedom Shrine … to put before young Americans proof that the freedoms and greatness we enjoy today were not purchased easily … and to remind them that these gifts must be cherished and protected.

The Freedom Shrine, sponsored by the Madison Exchange Club, is a collection of significant original documents from American history that are exact photographic reproductions. The display includes the Bill of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. This permanent display allows the public to see the hand of humanity behind these famous documents in a way that is not possible with transcriptions or electronic copies.

More than 12,000 Freedom Shrines have been dedicated in schools, military installations and government buildings since the program began in 1949. The Madison Exchange Club has installed nine Freedom Shrines which can be seen at ► Town CampusMemorial Town HallAcademy Elementary SchoolDr. Robert Brown Lower Middle SchoolWalter Polson Upper Middle SchoolDaniel Hand High SchoolOur Lady of Mercy SchoolElisabeth Adams Middle School in Guilford ► St. Rita School in Hamden.

On April 26th 2010, the Madison Board of Selectmen officially proclaimed May as Freedom Shrine Month. In addition, the Freedom Shrine at Town Campus was rededicated as a permanent home for our Past Presidents plaque. Accepting the honor on behalf of the club is Bill Lawlor who along with Tony DaRos, put in long hours to reconfigure the Freedom Shrine.

Town Campus Rededication, May 2010

L-R standing: Ashton Edwards, Tony DaRos, Bill Lawlor, First Selectman Fillmore McPherson

L-R kneeling: Past President Mary Minshall, President Thomas Tung

Memorial Town Hall, Madison

Academy Elementary School, Madison

Dr. Robert Brown Lower Middle School, Madison

Walter Polson Upper Middle School, Madison

Daniel Hand High School, Madison

Our Lady of Mercy School, Madison

Elisabeth Adams Middle School, Guilford

St. Rita School, Hamden

Facts About the Freedom Shrine

    • The Freedom Shrine was inspired by the Freedom Train, a traveling exposition of historic American documents which toured the United States shortly after World War II. In 1949, the Exchange Clubs of America, by unanimous resolution, agreed to install permanent displays of the best of these historical documents in communities throughout the nation so that Americans of all ages would have access to their rich heritage.

    • Of the Freedom Shrine documents, only the first… The Mayflower Compact… was written before the concept of such a thing as the United States of America was even conceived. But because it illustrates that the seed of eventual American freedom was carried to these shores by its very earliest settlers, it is considered part of our American heritage.

    • In many communities, the Freedom Shrine has been integrated into American History courses and is utilized as an invaluable reference for students seeking access to authentic historical American documents.

    • To increase the value of the Freedom Shrine to American students, The National Exchange Club has published the complete texts of each document. It is believed that the Freedom Shrine Documents Text Book currently represents the most authentic reprinting of these original documents.

    • Although the Freedom Shrine is an exclusive program of the Exchange Club, the presentation of a great many Freedom Shrines has been cosponsored by hundreds of individuals and businesses, including some of our nation's leading corporations.

    • In 1987, three new documents were added to the Freedom Shrine; the final draft of the U.S. Constitution, Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" Address and Kennedy's Inaugural Address. Then in 1996, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech and the Account of the Proceedings of the Susan B. Anthony Trial were also added.

The Freedom Shrine Documents

1620 The Mayflower Compact

1776 The Declaration of Independence - Jefferson's Rough Draft

1776 The Declaration of Independence

1776 Benjamin Franklin's Epitaph

1778 Patrick Henry's Instructions to George Rogers Clark

1782 Washington's Letter to Colonel Nicola

1783 The Treaty of Paris

1787 The Northwest Ordinance

1787 Washington's Copy of the Constitution

1787 U.S. Constitution

1789 Washington's First Inaugural

1789 The Bill of Rights

1796 Washington's Farewell

1801 Jefferson's First Inaugural

1814 The Star Spangled Banner

1815 Jackson's Letter Describing the Battle of New Orleans

1823 The Monroe Doctrine

1863 The Emancipation Proclamation

1863 The Gettysburg Address

1865 Lincoln's Second Inaugural

1865 Lee's Letter Accepting Washington College Presidency

1865 The Thirteenth Amendment

1874 Account of the Proceedings of the Susan B. Anthony Trial

1907 Theodore Roosevelt's Letter on Cuba

1913 Wilson's First Inaugural

1920 The Nineteenth Amendment

1941 F.D.R.'s Four Freedoms Speech

1943 Letter naming Eisenhower Supreme Commander

1944 General McAuliffe's "Christmas Message"

1945 German Instrument of Surrender, WWII

1945 Instrument of Surrender in the Pacific

1961 J.F.K.'s "Ask Not…" Speech

1963 Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech

Want to learn more? Visit the Virtual Freedom Shrine hosted by the Salem NH Exchange Club