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; this year, a special focus of Constitution Day will be the celebration of the signing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the foundation of American liberty, securing our most fundamental rights and freedoms—from the freedom to speak, assemble, and practice our faith as we choose, to the protections that ensure justice under the law. For over 200 years, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution have served as a basis from which civil society could grow and flourish. In honor of the ratification of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791, the National Constitution Center will celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution with activities and discussions that celebrate not only the foundation of these groundbreaking freedoms but also the actions of the American people to insure their strength.
- 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 10-23
- 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
- Explore the National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution
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.