Constitution Day (United States)

Constitution Day (United States)
Constitution Day
Constitution Day
Photograph of Jefferson High School Marching Colonials Performing on the Steps of the National Archives Building on Constitution Day, 1974
Official name Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
Observed by United States
Date The nearest weekday to September 17
2010 date Friday, September 17
2011 date Friday, September 16 (observed)
2012 date Monday, September 17
Celebrations Constitution Day and Citizenship Day commemorate the formation and signing on September 17, 1787, of the Constitution and recognize all who are born in the US or, by naturalization, have become citizens.[1]

Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day) is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.[2]

The law establishing the holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004.[3] Before this law was enacted, the holiday was known as "Citizenship Day". In addition to renaming the holiday "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day," the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day.[4] In May 2005, the United States Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.[5] This holiday is not observed by granting time off work for federal employees.

When Constitution Day falls on a weekend or on another holiday, schools and other institutions observe the holiday on an adjacent weekday.[5] This was the case in 2005 and 2011, when Constitution Day was generally observed on Friday, September 16[3] and 2006 when the holiday was observed on Monday, September 18.

Universities and colleges nationwide have created "U.S. Constitution and Citizenship Weeks" in order to meet the requirements of the law. For example, the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) has created a celebration week that includes "Constitution Trivia Contests", distribution of free copies of the U.S. Constitution, a campus & community fair (in which volunteer and community groups can share information with students), a web page with facts and links related to the Constitution and history of the United States. MSOE has also distributed thousands of free "Presidential quote" t-shirts to all students on campus.[6]



Iowa schools first recognized Constitution Day in 1911.[7] In 1917, the Sons of the American Revolution formed a committee to promote Constitution Day. The committee would include members such as Calvin Coolidge, John D. Rockefeller, and General John Pershing.[7]

In 1939, William Randolph Hearst advocated, through his chain of daily newspapers, the creation of a holiday to celebrate citizenship.[citation needed] In 1940, Congress designated the third Sunday in May as I am an American Day. By 1949, governors of all 48 states had issued Constitution Day proclamations.[7] On February 29, 1952, Congress moved that observation to September 17th and renamed it "Citizenship Day".[8]

Louisville, Ohio, calls itself Constitution Town and credits one of its own for getting the holiday national recognition. In 1952, resident Olga T. Weber petitioned municipal officials to establish Constitution Day, in honor of the ratification of the US Constitution in 1789. Mayor Gerald A. Romary proclaimed September 17, 1952, as Constitution Day in the city. The following April, Weber requested that the Ohio General Assembly proclaim September 17 as state-wide Constitution Day. Her request was signed into law by Governor Frank J. Lausche. In August 1953, she took her case to the United States Senate, which passed a resolution designating September 17-23 as Constitution Week. The Senate and House approved her request and it was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. On April 15, 1957, the City Council of Louisville declared the city Constitution Town. The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society later donated four historical markers, located at the four main entrances to the city, explaining Louisville's role as originator of Constitution Day.[9]

The Space Shuttle Enterprise was originally planned to be named Constitution. However, even after the name was changed, the Shuttle was dedicated on Constitution Day 1976.

See also


  1. ^ "§ 106. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day". U.S. Code collection. LII / Legal Information Institute. 
  2. ^ "Sec. 106. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day". TITLE 36--Patriotic And National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations. United States Government. 2006-01-03. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  3. ^ a b Krache, Donna (2005-09-16). "Constitution Day ushers in mandate to teach the Constitution". CNN. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  4. ^ "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005". United States Government. 2004-12-08. Retrieved 2008-08-12.  § 111
  5. ^ a b "Notice of Implementation of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on September 17 of Each Year". United States Department of Education. 2005-05-24. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Constitution and Citizenship Week". Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  7. ^ a b c Williams, Winston C., ed. Centennial History of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution 1889-1989. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company. p. 9. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  8. ^ Anne Edwards (1987). Early Reagan: The Rise to Power. William Morrow and Company. p. 267. 
  9. ^ "History of Louisville Ohio". Archived from the original on 2008-08-03. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 


External links

Online Lessons for K-12 Teachers to Use on Constitution Day

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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