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Constitution Day (United States)

Constitution Day
Jefferson High School Marching Colonials performing at the National Archives Building on Constitution Day, 1974
Official name Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
Observed by United States
Celebrations Constitution Day and Citizenship Day commemorate the formation and signing on September 17, 1787, of the Constitution and recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.[1]
Date nearest weekday to September 17
2014 date Wednesday, September 17
2015 date Thursday, September 17
2016 date Friday, September 16 (observed)
2017 date Monday, September 18 (observed)
Frequency annual
Related to I am an American Day

Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day) is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is normally observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.[2]

When Constitution Day falls on a weekend or on another holiday, schools and other institutions observe the holiday on an adjacent weekday.[3]

The law establishing the present holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004.[4] Before this law was enacted, the holiday was known as "Citizenship Day". In addition to renaming the holiday "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day," the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions, and all federal agencies, provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day.[5] In May 2005, the United States Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.[3] This holiday is not observed by granting time off work for federal employees.

Universities and colleges nationwide have created "U.S. Constitution and Citizenship Weeks" in order to meet the requirements of the law. For example, the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) has created a celebration week that includes "Constitution Trivia Contests", distribution of free copies of the U.S. Constitution, a campus & community fair (in which volunteer and community groups can share information with students), a web page with facts and links related to the Constitution and history of the United States. MSOE has also distributed thousands of free "Presidential quote" T-shirts to all students on campus.[6]


  • History 1
    • Origins 1.1
    • I am an American Day 1.2
    • Louisville, Ohio – the Constitution Town 1.3
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4



Iowa schools first recognized Constitution Day in 1911.[7] In 1917, the Sons of the American Revolution formed a committee to promote Constitution Day. The committee would include members such as Calvin Coolidge, John D. Rockefeller, and General John Pershing.[7]

I am an American Day

This day was inspired by Arthur Pine, the head of a publicity-public relations firm in New York City bearing his name. At the New York World’s Fair, the writers of a new song called “I am an American” brought their manuscript to the attention of Arthur Pine who handled publicity for the band leader, Gary Gordon, and a music publisher. Arthur Pine had the song introduced on NBC, Mutual, and ABC by the orchestra leader, arranged for an “I am an American Day” at the World’s Fair and had a local New York newspaper tie-in with “I am an American Day” in the city. The promotion proved so successful that a newspaper chain promoted “I am an American Day” on a nation-wide basis and had President Roosevelt name it as an official day.[8]

In 1939, William Randolph Hearst advocated, through his chain of daily newspapers, the creation of a holiday to celebrate citizenship. In 1940, Congress designated the third Sunday in May as "I am an American Day." In 1944 "I am an American Day" was promoted through the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.[9] A 16-minute film, I Am an American, was featured in American theaters as a short feature.[10] In 1947 Hearst Newsreels featured the event on News of the Day.[11] By 1949, governors of all 48 states had issued Constitution Day proclamations.[7] On February 29, 1952, Congress moved the "I am an American Day" observation to September 17 and renamed it "Citizenship Day".[12][13]

Louisville, Ohio – the Constitution Town

Louisville, Ohio, calls itself "Constitution Town", and credits one of its own for getting the holiday national recognition. In 1952, resident Olga T. Weber petitioned municipal officials to establish Constitution Day, in honor of the creation of the US Constitution in 1787. Mayor Gerald A. Romary proclaimed September 17, 1952, as Constitution Day in the city. The following April, Weber requested that the Ohio General Assembly proclaim September 17 as state-wide Constitution Day. Her request was signed into law by Governor Frank J. Lausche. In August 1953, she took her case to the United States Senate, which passed a resolution designating September 17–23 as Constitution Week. The Senate and House approved her request and it was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. On April 15, 1957, the City Council of Louisville declared the city Constitution Town. The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society later donated four historical markers, located at the four main entrances to the city, explaining Louisville's role as originator of Constitution Day.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "§ 106. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day". U.S. Code collection. LII / Legal Information Institute. 
  2. ^ "Sec. 106. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day". TITLE 36--Patriotic And National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations. United States Government. January 3, 2006. Retrieved August 12, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "Notice of Implementation of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on September 17 of Each Year". United States Department of Education. May 24, 2005. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  4. ^ Krache, Donna (September 16, 2005). "Constitution Day ushers in mandate to teach the Constitution". CNN. Retrieved August 12, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005". United States Government. December 8, 2004. Retrieved August 12, 2008.  § 111
  6. ^ "U.S. Constitution and Citizenship Week". Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c Williams, Winston C. (ed.). Centennial History of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution 1889–1989. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company. p. 9. Retrieved January 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ Pine, Martin (June 28, 1948). American Day' Origin"'" (PDF). Open Mike. Broadcasting: 16.  
  9. ^ See:
    • Harrington, Burritt C. (1944). Community Recognition of USA Citizenship: A Handbook for I am an American Day Committees. Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service.  
    • Evans, Lillian (1944). "Talk on: 'I am an American Day'". New York: Pershing Square Information Center.  
    •   Black and white film with Morgan speaking to an I am an American Day gathering.
    • Lest we forget. 8th series, Program no, 13, Our nation's shrines. Special program 1944, I am an American (Sound recording). New York: Institute of Oral and Visual Education; Federal Transcribed Programs. 1944.  
    • Also see:  
  10. ^ I Am an American was produced by Knute Rockne, and Jay Silverheels. See: I Am An American at the TCM Movie Database and I Am an American at the Internet Movie Database.
  11. ^ News of the Day 18 (274).  
  12. ^  
  13. ^ "The importance of Citizenship Day". Chicago Sun-Times. September 12, 2006. Retrieved February 3, 2013 – via  
  14. ^ "History of Louisville Ohio". Archived from the original on August 3, 2008. Retrieved August 12, 2008. 

External links

  • Explore quizzes, videos, games, and lessons for Constitution Day
  • NEH Constitution Day Portal
  • U.S. Constitution & Citizenship Week at MSOE
  • Multiple related links on the U.S. Constitution and history of the United States from MSOE
  • Federal Register announcement
  • Constitution Day resources for educators, federal employees, individuals, and parents
  • National Archives
  • National Constitution Center
  • The text of US CODE Title 36 § 106, describing Constitution Day and Citizenship Day - Hosted by Cornell University Law School
  • The text of 36 USC 106, describing Citizenship Day - Hosted by FindLaw. Shows January 1994 US Code prior to amendment adding Constitution Day to this observance.
  • The text of H.R. 4818, adding Constitution Day and specifying educational requirements
  • Constitution Day History - Hosted by FairVote - Center for Voting and Democracy

Online Lessons for K-12 Teachers to Use on Constitution Day

  • Constitution Day Brought to You By The ACLU, Resources for Parents and Educators
  • Free quizzes, videos, and games for Constitution Day
  • Free Constitution Day resources for educators
  • Searchable, user-rated Constitution Day resources for educators
  • Education World Constitution Day Lesson Planning - List of best web resources and links to online lessons
  • [1] - Free web-based lessons for K-12 students
  • EDSITEment Constitution Day Lesson Plans and Resources
  • CRF Constitution Day Lesson Plans - Free downloadable lessons for K-12 educators to plan and implement celebration events.
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