The Constitution is the bedrock of our form of government and the Bill of Rights bestows to us our freedoms and way of life in these United States. For 230 years, it has constituted a deep and uniquely American experience with democracy.
Constitution Day and Citizenship Day was established in its current form in 2004. It is a federal day of observance to commemorate the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. The holiday is observed this year on Monday the 18th as the 17th is a Sunday.
Original copies of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence, proudly known as the Charters of Freedom, can be viewed online at "America's Founding Documents" hosted by the National Archives. Here you can "Meet the Framers of the Constitution" and take a closer look at the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process in "A More Perfect Union."
Constitution Day has a strong educational focus intended to teach us more about the history of our American Constitution. The Library of Congress (LC) maintains a webpage dedicated to this purpose. It is a good starting point with a short overview of the holiday, a listing of Legislative and Executive branch documents, and links to many other web resources.
One particularly expansive resource curated by LC is Primary Documents in American History - United States Constitution. This web guide includes the documentary records of the Constitutional Convention known as Farrand's Records, digital collections of the papers of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson, as well as, various exhibits and printed ephemera.
Many private and civic organizations take part in this educational endeavor such as the National Constitution Center. Their website has a countdown clock to Constitution Day, an Interactive Constitution with features to explore the history and meaning of the Articles and Amendments, plus lesson plans and activities for students. The National Constitution Center Museum in historic Philadelphia is just blocks from Independence Hall where the signing took place.
Our own UW-Madison is home to the nationally renowned Center for the Study of the American Constitution (CSAC) that publishes The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution series, and many other notable titles on American history. At present, 26 volumes of the The Documentary History on the Ratification of the Constitution are free and publicly accessible online through the UW Libraries' Digital Collections.
UW-Madison will be hosting the following events to commemorate Constitution Day:
• Friday, Sept. 15 at noon – A Panel Discussion on Constitutional Interpretation – at Lathrop Hall
• Monday, Sept. 18 at noon - Constitution Day Lecture, with special guest Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Supreme Court of California – at Law School
• Monday, Sept. 18 at 10:30 a.m. – Constitutional Law Class – at Law School
All events are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit the UW-Madison Constitution Day website.
Submitted by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian on September 12, 2017
This article appears in the categories: Law Library