September 17th

Constitution Day (US) -

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On the 17th of September each year, we observe a significant day in the annals of American history—Constitution Day. This occasion marks the anniversary of a monumental event in 1787 when thirty-nine visionaries signed the document that laid the groundwork for the United States’ governance and legal system. Constitution Day is not merely a nod to the past; it’s a living tribute to the enduring principles that continue to shape and define the nation.

This day stands as a civic milestone, inviting every American—whether by birthright or by the profound journey of naturalization—to pause and consider the liberties and responsibilities enshrined in the United States Constitution. Schools, public institutions, and citizens alike take this moment to engage in thoughtful reflection and education about the Constitution’s role in their lives and in the broader American experience.

History of Constitution Day (US)

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States and was drafted at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia between May and September of 1787. It replaced the Articles of Confederation, the nation’s first constitution, which was widely regarded as ineffective.

Key framers of the Constitution, known as the Founding Fathers, included James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin. Debates during the convention centered on balancing state and federal powers, representation, and the issue of slavery.

The Constitution outlines the structure of the federal government, dividing it into three branches: legislative (Congress), executive (headed by the President), and judicial (headed by the Supreme Court). Major principles embedded in the Constitution include separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism.

The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, but it required ratification by nine of the thirteen states to become effective. Federalists, who supported a strong central government, advocated for its approval, while Anti-Federalists argued for stronger state governments. To ease concerns and secure ratification, the Bill of Rights—a set of ten amendments guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms—was promised and ratified by 1791.

The Constitution has since been amended 27 times to meet the changing needs and circumstances of the nation, including significant amendments that abolished slavery (13th Amendment), guaranteed equal protection under the law (14th Amendment), and extended the right to vote to different groups, including women (19th Amendment) and African Americans (15th Amendment).

To this day, the US Constitution remains a living document, its interpretation the subject of ongoing legal and political debate.

Constitution Day (US) Timeline

Signing of the Constitution

On September 17, 1787, 39 of the 55 delegates signed the new Constitution, proposing a new framework for the government of the United States.

Ratification of the Constitution

Constitution ratification began in December 1787, with the necessary ninth state (New Hampshire) ratifying it on June 21, 1788.

Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified on December 15, 1791, guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms.

13th Amendment

Ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.

14th Amendment

Ratified on July 9, 1868, the 14th Amendment granted citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States and provided equal protection under the law.

19th Amendment

Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote.

26th Amendment

Ratified on July 1, 1971, the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

Constitution Day established

Senator Robert Byrd amends an appropriations bill to designate September 17 as 'Constitution Day and Citizenship Day'.

Ideas to Celebrate Constitution Day

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Interactive Constitution Workshop

Host a workshop where participants can learn about the Constitution through hands-on activities. Invite a local historian or constitutional scholar to provide insights and facilitate discussions around the document's creation, structure, and impact on current affairs.

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Civic Engagement Fair

Set up a fair with booths offering information on different aspects of civics, voter registration, and community involvement. Encourage local government representatives, advocacy groups, and educational organizations to participate.

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Constitutional Scavenger Hunt

Create a scavenger hunt that takes participants through the town or city, highlighting historical landmarks and places related to the nation's constitutional history. Incorporate trivia questions at each stop that teach about the Constitution.

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Essay Contest

Hold an essay contest for students and community members focusing on a theme related to the Constitution, such as 'What the Constitution Means to Me' or 'The Relevance of the Constitution Today'. Publicly recognize and award the best essays.

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Film Screening and Discussion

Screen a documentary or film about the Constitution or its framers, followed by a panel discussion with experts on constitutional law, history, and politics, enabling attendees to engage in a meaningful dialogue.

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Constitution Quiz Night

Host a trivia night centered around constitutional facts, historic court cases, and the impact of the document on U.S. history. This can be a fun and competitive way to educate participants on constitutional knowledge.

8 Interesting Facts About The US Constitution

1.

The Longevity of the US Constitution

The United States Constitution is the oldest written national constitution still in use. It was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and later ratified by conventions in each U.S. state in the name of 'The People'.

2.

The Constitution's Few Amendments

Despite being over 230 years old, the US Constitution has only been amended 27 times. The first 10 amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, were ratified together in 1791, and the most recent amendment was adopted in 1992.

3.

The Secret Drafting of the Constitution

The Constitution was drafted in strict secrecy during the Philadelphia Convention. Windows were kept shut and guards were posted to ensure that the deliberations were kept private. This was done to enable open and honest discussion away from outside pressures.

4.

George Washington's Double Duty

George Washington not only presided over the Constitutional Convention but was also the first person to sign the document. Later, he became the first President of the United States under the very Constitution he helped bring to life.

5.

A Constitution Without a Bill of Rights Initially

When the Constitution was first ratified, it did not contain a Bill of Rights. These first ten amendments were added after the constitutional ratification, largely due to the advocacy of James Madison who wanted to protect individual liberties from government infringement.

6.

First State to Ratify

Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7, 1787, doing so unanimously. For this reason, Delaware is often referred to as 'The First State'.

7.

A Constitution for a Growing Nation

When the Constitution was signed in 1787, the United States was a nation of just 13 states and around 4 million people. Today, the Constitution serves a nation of 50 states with a population of over 330 million people.

8.

Handwritten Masterpiece

The original Constitution is handwritten and spans four pages. It was penned by Jacob Shallus, an assistant clerk for the Pennsylvania State Assembly, who was paid $30 (about $900 today) for his work.

Constitution Day FAQs

Next Constitution Day Dates

Year Date Day
2023 September 17th Sunday
2024 September 17th Tuesday
2025 September 17th Wednesday
2026 September 17th Thursday
2027 September 17th Friday
What is the pattern? Every September 17th

Constitution Day Word Search

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