Home U.S. NEWS Jill Biden calls swearing-in of first National Archivist ‘momentous’

Jill Biden calls swearing-in of first National Archivist ‘momentous’

Jill Biden calls swearing-in of first National Archivist ‘momentous’

WASHINGTON (AP) — First lady Jill Biden welcomed Colleen Shogan, the first woman sworn in as National Archivist, and said Monday that the power of democracy “is made real through unfiltered and uncensored access to history.”

Shogan, a former professor of government and politics at George Mason University, heads the National Archives and Records Administration, which manages billions of documents – including the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, Harriet Tubman’s Civil War pension benefits and the patent Thomas Edison for the light bulb.

During a formal swearing-in ceremony, Biden noted that the country’s historic documents were once owned by George Washington and later at the State Department before being entrusted to the National Archives, created by Congress in 1934.

“The history of a democracy belongs to its people, and we must carefully preserve it for future generations,” the first lady said. “Already at the Constitutional Convention, our leaders recognized the power of our founding documents and the importance of keeping them safe and accessible.”

President Joe Biden has made preserving democracy a centerpiece of his re-election campaign and vowed to thwart former President Donald Trump’s Make American Great Again movement, which he says is trying to undermine it.

Meanwhile, the National Archives has recently found itself in the spotlight of national politics in an unusual way.

Just days after the president appointed Shogan as Archivist of the United States in August 2022, the FBI searched Trump’s home and seized thousands of pages of documents as it investigated whether he had taken classified documents from the White House.

“This experiment in democracy depended on the people and their ability to demand their rights and hold their elected officials accountable,” Jill Biden said Monday. “This power could only be realized through unfiltered and uncensored access to history.”

Shogan was confirmed by the Senate in May and succeeds Debra Wall, who served as acting U.S. archivist. The first lady said that the contents of the National Archives are “all of our stories – men and women of all backgrounds, ages and faiths that we seek to preserve and whose voices we deem worthy of inclusion in our national memory.”

“That’s why this milestone – the first woman to lead the National Archives and Records Administration – is so significant,” she added.

Shogan said she made a point to visit the Declaration of Independence every day when she came to work and that she wore white during Monday’s ceremony to honor the legacy of suffragists.

She said: “These documents are not just pieces of parchment. They are living promises to hold our government accountable.”

“What keeps us from falling back into the classic pattern of authoritarianism is our right — even our responsibility — to hold our government accountable,” Shogan said. “That’s what makes the National Archives so important. Without the National Archives and continued fulfillment. “Given its mission, a healthy democracy cannot be sustained.”


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