A short history of Constitution Day for teachers

Constitution Day is celebrated every September 17th to mark and honor the date that the US Constitution was first signed back in 1787, as well as citizen's rights and obligations related to this important document.

To understand the history and the importance of Constitution Day, we should briefly look into the Constitution itself.

Brief Look at History of US Constitution

The Constitution is probably the most important document in the US history. The Constitution first defined the USA in the regulatory sense and made the union a functional, united country.

On July 4, 1776, the founding fathers of the United States signed the Declaration of Independence, which ended the country's colonial status. However, it wasn't until September 17th, 1787 that a true government was formed, turning 13 former British colonies into a unified country. That happened by the act of signing the Constitution.

It could be said that while the Fourth of July represents the birthday of the American nation, September 17th is the birthday of the American government. That is why Constitution Day, which is celebrated every year on September 17th, is such an important holiday.

Short History of Constitution Day

Contrary to its importance, Constitution Day is quite a novel national holiday.

Constitution Day evolved from the so-called ''I Am An American Day'' which was celebrated since May 1940. The goal of this day was to create an opportunity for all those who had become American citizens through the coming-of-age or naturalization process to celebrate their belonging to the American nation.

In 1952, the event was moved to September 17th, correlating it with the signing of Constitution. The name of the holiday was changed to "Citizenship Day". The essence of the holiday remained the same as with the "I Am An American Day", except that there was some more emphasis on citizens, their rights and obligations as a part of the American Republic.

In 1997,  Louise Leigh founded a nonprofit organization called Constitution Day, Inc. to help support recognition of the importance of the holiday, as well as to emphasize the value and greatness of the Constitution itself.

Finally, in 2004. West Virginia senator Robert Byrd prompted that ''Citizenship Day'' should be changed to ''Constitution Day and Citizenship Day''. The former "Citizenship Day" was primarily focused on new American citizens, but Byrd reasoned that every established American citizen should also celebrate the most important legal document of the United States of America. In May 2005, the United States Department of Education backed the Byrd's amendment that was going to apply the holiday in all schools that were receiving federal funds of any kind. Since then, Constitution Day has a special place in the US public education system. The tradition of honoring the Constitution continues.

Looking for a low prep option this Constitution Day? Why not check out my Constitution Day Celebration Study? Students love this resources and learn so much about Constitution Day from it. 

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