The Webb County Heritage Foundation and Ms. Toni L. Ruiz will present an exhibit of rare historic documents to be displayed at the Villa Antigua® Border Heritage Museum, 810 Zaragoza Street, from January 21 – February 24, 2015. “America’s Four Republics: The More or Less United States” depicts America’s political evolution from 1774 to 1791 and reveals four distinctly different United American Republics. To commemorate the exhibit opening, the public is invited to a Gallery Talk and Reception at the Villa Antigua® Border Heritage Museum at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, January 21st followed by a book signing. The key storytellers of the exhibit will be more than one hundred rare and original 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century documents, manuscripts, and letters from the United Colonies of America (1774-1776), the Thirteen Independent States United in Congress (1776-1781), the United States of America under the Articles of Confederation (1781 -1787), and We the People of the United States (1789-Present) under the 1787 U.S. Constitution and its 1789 Bill of Rights. The priceless documents are on loan to the museum from the collection of nationally renowned author and historian, Stanley Klos who, along with Dr. Naomi Yavneh Klos of Loyola University New Orleans, led the team that assembled the exhibit. “There was no precedent when the representatives of the American colonies first convened at Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia in 1774,” said Klos. “Despite their distrust of centralized authority, these revolutionaries created three distinct republics that each had significant weaknesses, but were the best that could be achieved in their moment. It took a fourth attempt, with the U.S. Constitution of 1787 supplemented by the 1789 Bill of Rights, to finally create a workable system. Our goal is to create an exhibit that familiarizes our visitors with the 15-year nation building process that ultimately created the United States of America and its evolution via the U.S. Constitution amendment process,” he said. Among the most notable exhibition highlights are: the first magazine printing of the US Constitution of 1787; an 18th Century printing of the 12 Amendments proposed by the 1789 Congress, of which ten were passed as the Bill of Rights; unique Revolutionary War and U.S. Founding letters, documents, and broadsides by George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Elias Boudinot, John Jay and other leaders; 19th- and 20th-Century printings, letters and documents related to U.S. Constitutional Amendments 11-27; and many other original documents from the Continental Congress, United States in Congress Assembled, U.S. Presidents, signers of the Declaration of Independence, signers of the Articles of Confederation and current U.S. Constitution. In 1983, upon the discovery of 18th Century Philadelphia shipping records in his attic, Klos began to research and exhibit historic documents. Since then, he has amassed an impressive collection of rare documents which have headlined special exhibits at numerous universities, national historic sites, libraries, and museums. His work has also appeared in hundreds of print and digital publications including History Channel’s Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, The Declaration of Independence, U.S. News & World Report 2006 cover story, “Washington? Get In Line,” and the Discovery Channel s Unsolved History: Plots To Kill Lincoln. Klos has authored five books: President Who? Forgotten Founders, The Rise of the U.S. Presidency and the Forgotten Capitols, Happy Birthdays USA, Economic Home Runs, and America’s Four Republics: The More or Less United States. During the month of February, Klos will also present talks and student debates at Laredo Community College, Texas A & M International University, United Independent School District, and United Day School. At the conclusion of the exhibit, Laredo Community College will host a free public lecture by Klos on Tuesday, February 24th at 6:30 pm at the Martinez Fine Arts Center on the subject of “America’s Forgotten Presidents.” This lecture will be a fascinating examination of the 14 men who were elected and served as our nation’s Heads of State prior to the 1789 inauguration of George Washington. The talk will trace the evolution of the U.S. Presidency from the Colonial Continental Congress’ unicameral government to the current Chief Executive whose role is quite distinct from the legislative and judicial branches of government. All those who attend the presentations will leave with a new appreciation for the contributions of the Presidential luminaries who preceded George Washington, the first President under the current constitution of the United States. A book signing will follow the lecture. “People have to travel to Washington D.C. and visit the National Archives and Library of Congress to view a collection of U.S. founding documents of this caliber,” explains Toni L. Ruiz, sponsor of the America’s Four Republics Exhibit. “This is truly a big deal for Laredo and an incredible opportunity that I encourage everyone to take advantage of. The exhibit is important not only because the documents are national treasures, but because these primary sources tell the full story of the complex founding and continued political evolution of our great country.” Visitors can enjoy a range of new media and interactive experiences in conjunction with the “America’s Four Republics’ exhibit on display at the Villa Antigua® Border Heritage Museum at 810 Zaragoza St. in Laredo through February 24. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is $2.00. There is no admission charge on Tuesdays. For further information, contact the museum at 956-718-2727.