A Brief History of Constitution Week: September 17 to September 23

Since 1956, we’ve celebrated the Constitution not only on September 17 (the date the document was signed by the Constitutional Convention delegates), but also for a full week thereafter.
Congress, by joint resolution of February 29, 1952 (36 U.S.C. 106), designated September 17 as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” and by joint resolution of August 2, 1956 (36 U.S.C. 108), requested that the President proclaim the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 of each year as “Constitution Week.”
upon all our citizens to renew and reaffirm on that day their faith in the principles and ideals embodied in the Constitution – the foundation of our strength and the symbol of freedom and justice for all.

On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Federal Convention in Philadelphia met for the last time and approved these familiar words now enshrined not only in our Nation’s basic Instrument of Government but also in the hearts of our citizenry. Led by the President of the Convention, George Washington, the great majority of the delegates signed the newly drafted Constitution, and on the following day their Secretary set off for New York by stage coach to deliver the engrossed document to the United States in Congress there assembled. Within a week the proposed Constitution had been printed and circulated in both Pennsylvania and New York, and the great principles by which our country still is governed had been dispatched or carried home by delegates from other States as well. On September 28, 1787, the Congress resolved to transmit the draft text officially to the States of the Confederation for action.

It is fitting that we, whose entire lives have been protected by the fruits of the Convention’s deliberations, should pause in our several occupations to study the course of events by which our Constitution came into being, the great debate which ensued before our Federal Government became established, and the internal stresses and the assaults from without which we as a Nation have met successfully, with God’s help, within the framework established by our forbears one hundred and sixty-eight years ago.

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 17, 2016, as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and September 17 through September 23, 2016, as Constitution Week. I encourage Federal, State, and local officials, as well as leaders of civic, social, and educational organizations, to conduct ceremonies and programs that bring together community members to reflect on the importance of active citizenship, recognize the enduring strength of our Constitution, and reaffirm our commitment to the rights and obligations of citizenship in this great Nation.”
Congress, through a provision tucked into the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005, mandated that all schools receiving federal funding hold educational programs on the U.S. Constitution on September 17th of every year, unless the 17th falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, then Constitution Day will be held during the preceding or following week.

SEC. 111. (a) The head of each Federal agency or department shall-

(1) provide each new employee of the agency or department with educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution as part of the orientation materials provided to the new employee; and

(2) provide educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution to each employee of the agency or department on September 17 of each year.

(b) Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.

Looking for great FREE Constitution Week resources? Check out the Civics Renewal Network’s list of Constitution Day resources. My non-profit, The Constitutional Sources Project (www.ConSource.org) is proud to be a partner in the Civics Renewal Network.

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