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 over 230 years, it has constituted a deep and uniquely American experience with democracy.

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day were established in their current form in 2004. It is a federal day of observance to commemorate the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, and to "recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens." Come join us in celebrating Constitution Day on Tuesday Sept. 17th.

Original copies of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Indepedence, 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 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 the Library of Congress is Constitution of the United States : Primary Documents in American History. This web guide includes the documentary records of the Constitutional Convention known as Farrand's Records, as well as, digital collections of the papers of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson, and much more.

There is also an online U.S. Constitution Annotated prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and hosted by the Legal Information Institute (LII) for all to view. It links to Supreme Court opinions, the U.S. Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations allowing readers to explore and learn more about the meaning and historical legacy of this defining document of American democracy.

Many private and civic organizations take part in this educational endeavor such as the National Constitution Center. Their website has an Interactive Constitution with features to explore the history and meaning of the Articles and Amendments, plus educational resources and activities for younger students. The National Constitution Center Museum in historic Philadelphia is just blocks from Independence Hall where the signing took place. The Museum has a new exhibit American Treasures: Documenting The Nation's Founding with documents from the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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 in American history. At present, 34 volumes of The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution are free and publically accessible online through the UW Libraries' Digital Collections.

UW-Madison will be hosting the following events to commemorate Constitution Day:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. - Constitutional Law I class with Professor Asifa Quraishi-Landes - Room 2211, Law School
  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 at noon - Ideas & Innovations Series : "Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom" with guest speaker Sarah Seo, University of Iowa School of Law - Lubar Commons (Room 7200), Law School
  • Thursday, September 19, 2019 at noon - "The Russian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights: Conflicting Conceptions of Sovereignty in Strasbourg and St. Petersburg" with guest speaker Jeffrey Kahn, SMU Dedman School of Law - Lubar Commons (Room 7200), Law School
  • Friday, September 20, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. - "The Founding Fathers and Public Leadership Conference" hosted by the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership - Lowell Center Dining Room

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, 2019

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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