On September 17, 1787, the Founding Fathers signed the most influential document in American history: the United States Constitution. This document established the framework of our government and the rights and freedoms that “We the People” enjoy today.
What is Constitution Day?
Constitution Day became a national observance in 2004, when Senator Robert Byrd passed a bill designating September 17 as the day for citizens to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and learn more about our founding document. Senator Byrd once said, "Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world." He added the Constitution Day clause to his 2004 federal spending bill because he believed that all citizens should know about their rights as outlined in the Constitution. This clause mandates the teaching of the Constitution in schools that receive federal funds, as well as federal agencies.
In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. The National Constitution Center can help you meet this requirement! Here’s how:
- View the new episode of our engaging and educational web-based video series, Constitution Hall Pass, and join in the live web chat from September 8-19
- Take part in the free Constitution Day festivities at the Center on September 17
- Download your own personal Pocket Constitution App for your iPhone
- Purchase a Constitution Day Kit, featuring an instructional DVD, pocket Constitutions and other great materials for your classroom
Distribution of Constitution Hall Pass and a full list of the nation’s best constitutional teaching resources has been made possible by the following civic organizations: American Bar Association, American Institute for History Education, Annenberg Classroom, Bill of Rights Institute, Center for Civic Education, Channel One, Civic Mission of Schools, Constituting America, Daughters of the American Revolution, Gilder Lehrman, iCivics, National Archives, National History Day Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Progressive Business Publications, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and Scholastic.
Many notable guests have participated in the Constitution Center’s Constitution Day celebration since the museum opened in 2003 including: former Second Lady Lynne Cheney, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, activists Elizabeth Eckford and Mary Beth Tinker, and Congressman John Lewis.