Located in historic downtown Exeter, the American Independence Museum comprises the 18th century Ladd-Gilman House, Folsom Tavern, and over an acre of landscaped property in downtown Exeter. Tours of the museum introduce you to the Gilman family, prosperous Exeter merchants who become inextricably linked to the Revolution:
- Nicholas Gilman, Sr., New Hampshire state treasurer during the American Revolution.Gilman's son, John Taylor Gilman, who read the Declaration of Independence to the citizens of
- Exeter and later was governor of New Hampshire.
- Nicholas Gilman, Jr., a signer of the U.S. Constitution.
In 1985, a Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence was found in the Ladd-Gilman House. This amazing discovery is now a major focus of the museum's collections and programming. The museum was founded in 1991 to display this rare document and teach visitors our nation's founding principles.
Museum collections include two rare drafts of the U.S. Constitution as well as an original Purple Heart, awarded by George Washington to soldiers demonstrating extraordinary bravery. Exhibits highlight the Society of the Cincinnati, the nation's oldest veterans' society, and its first president, George Washington. Permanent collections include American furnishings, ceramics, silver, textiles and military ephemera.
The Folsom Tavern, down the hill from the Ladd-Gilman House, built by local entrepreneur Colonel Samuel Folsom, was the center of Exeter's political scene during the Revolution. Currently under restoration, the Folsom Tavern opens to the public in spring 2007 as an interactive exhibits and education center.
The American Independence Museum is a private, not-for-profit institution whose mission is to provide a place for the study, research, education and interpretation of the American Revolution and of the role that New Hampshire, Exeter, and the Gilman family played in the founding of the new republic.