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Rights On Parade At Federal Hall

Federal Hall National Memorial

National Park News

Federal Hall National Memorial stands on the site of the first U.S. capitol. It was here at 26 Wall Street that George Washington was sworn in as our first president in 1789 and where the Bill of Rights was drafted, adopted and sent to the states for ratification.

The Bill of Rights, which are the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, are cherished by all Americans and visibly practiced at Federal Hall. In an election year, the protections of the First Amendment – Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom to Assemble Peaceably, Freedom of Religion and Freedom to Petition the Government for Redress of Grievances – are often on display.

Since becoming a national memorial in 1955, thousands of activists and protesters have made Federal Hall’s steps their podium – calling for the end of numerous injustices, real and perceived, and for changes they believe would lead to a better and greater America.

Located cattycorner to the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall has recently had a front row seat to the meltdown of the world financial markets. Weekly and sometimes daily since September, Americans of nearly every stripe have come to Federal Hall to have their say on everything from the war in Iraq to the Wall Street bailout to the political process. The NPS has issued numerous permits since September for rallies and protests as well as for the media that comes to record these events.

While their messages and aims may be very different, protests and demonstrations at Federal Hall have been peaceful as well as respectful both to the site and to NPS staff, who have worked to ensure that the exercise of  rights do not endanger others or the site where those very rights were drafted.


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