"We the People" is a grand, inclusive, and tolerant phrase.
But throughout our national history, we have struggled to determine who is part of the "we" and what it means to be an American.
As the U.S. expanded west in the 1840's, many Americans came to believe in our "Manifest Destiny." This term coined by newspaperman John O'Sullivan meant that the U.S. was divinely ordained to expand to the Pacific Ocean, and bring the blessings of industrialization, advanced farming and Christian values to the wilderness. By the late 1880s America saw itself not as a patchwork of different European cultures, but a new and distinct culture: American.
"Americanism" in its more radical forms excluded many groups from the ideal of "We the People." Native Americans, those who did not speak English, people of color, Jews, Catholics, foreigners, political and economic free-thinkers all failed the test of being true Americans. Nebraska became home to thousands of immigrants, but it has also been a state of intolerance.
This portion of the exhibit contains images and subject matter that may be disturbing to young visitors.
Parental discretion is advised.
"Members of the Klu Klux Klan march down O Street in Lincoln during what is probably the 1924 Fourth of July Parade."