Next year on Giving Tuesday, the Smithsonian will begin an annual series of exhibitions highlighting a different facet of American life as touched by philanthropy.
"Philanthropy has been a critical element of American society from the beginning. Writing in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville, keen observer of the United States in its formative years, concluded that the success of the new nation depended heavily on voluntary associations and giving. For democracy to work, Americans had to participate in it actively, both as individuals and through organizations. He was encouraged to find that Americans relished the opportunity to shape their civic life themselves and to take responsibility for nurturing the common good.
"For the past few years, I served as project director for the major new exhibition that just opened on the first floor of the Museum, American Enterprise. It traces the history of business and innovation in America from the 1770s to the present. The exhibit chronicles the interaction of capitalism and democracy in the nation throughout this period, and how that dynamic interaction has shaped economic development."--David K. Allison, Smithsonian