Freedom Train

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Something for the weekend.  Freedom Train by Irving Berlin and sung by Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters.  In 1947 President Harry S. Truman commissioned a special train, staffed with United States Marines, to tour the country and display precious documents of American history to remind all Americans of their heritage.  The train’s cargo included:  the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, one of the 13 original copies of the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, one of Lincoln’s handwritten drafts of the Gettysburg Address, the large flag raised on Mount Suribachi by the US Marines on Iwo Jima, the German and Japanese surrender documents that ended World War II, and much more, including one of the originals of the Magna Carta.

The train toured the US for two years and was surrounded by throngs of visitors wherever it stopped.  It traveled 37,160 miles, stopping in 326 cities and towns.  Over three million Americans went on board the train, many waiting up to six hours to do so.  A second Freedom Train toured the country during the Bicentennial in 1975-1976.

Here is the song performed by Peggy Lee and Johnny Mercer:

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  1. Wow ! ::: “the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, one of Lincoln’s handwritten drafts of the Gettysburg Address….”

    When I lived in D.C. we went down to the National Archives. Quite a day.

    Bringing these documents out to the people mattered !!

    Btw: the “vampire hunter” version of Lincoln is spot-on as can be. Slavery wasn’t an inch short of sucking blood from humans.

  2. Clinton: I had the same thought. I would put only copies of real documents on the train, because they need to be seen and appreciated. In the old days, the Vatican transported the Pieta to Flushing Meadows, New York for the World’s Fair in 1962. The Times Building had copies of all the Sistine Chapel paintings of Michaelangelo that could be seen upclose. Since then, the Pieta has been attacked and must be seen under bullet proof glass. Larger than life COPIES of our founding principles could be easily read and even pamphlets with the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution might be available. Impersonators of Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, the film strips of the movies might be continuously shown. The Lincoln, Jefferson Memorial, pictures of the capitol, the Supreme Court in session. Boy is my age showing. Hey, some people will come for the show who otherwise might not. Civics 101. Perhaps a class credit might be givern to any student who attends. It is very exciting for people who may not be able to visit Philadelphia, Washington D.C. The Statue of Liberty. It is better for the children than condoms.

  3. “Btw: the “vampire hunter” version of Lincoln is spot-on as can be. Slavery wasn’t an inch short of sucking blood from humans.”
    How current, the HHS mandate is sucking the life-blood from humans.

  4. “I shudder to think how such a train would be curated under this administration.” Obama can get on the train or get off. Obama is becoming very irrelevant.

  5. I remember the Bicentennial Freedom Train of 1976 because my family went to see it when it stopped in Peoria, Ill. It was very much like touring a museum on wheels. However, I had no idea until now that there was an earlier Freedom Train in the 1940s.

  6. More fun facts about the later Freedom Train: Over 7 million Americans toured the Bicentennial (American) Freedom Train, which included not only historic artifacts such as the original Louisiana Purchase document, but cultural artifacts such as Judy Garland’s dress from “The Wizard of Oz,” Joe Frazier’s boxing trunks, Martin Luther King’s clerical robes, and a rock brought back from the moon by the Apollo astronauts!

  7. Today’s version would be a “Worship Train” with copies of His Pomposity’s speeches, books and life-sized standup cutouts available for photo opportunities.

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