America's origins do not begin at a specific date, nor do they involve one particular group of people. When the United States became and independent nation in 1776, different peoples had lived on its lands for centuries. Following Christopher Columbus's arrival in the so-called "New World" in 1492, immigrants came to America in search of new riches, new freedoms and new beginnings. As early as 1619, enslaved Africans also began arriving on America's shores. In subsequent centuries, as individuals from around the globe have settled here, the country's diversity has grown further.
In many respects, the United States is always beginning anew. In this exhibition, you will meet those who shaped their times, from the colonial era through the Revolution and the Civil War to the end of the nineteenth century. Each contributed in extraordinary ways to the country's continuing reinvention.