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Ratification of the U.S. Constitution   Tags: constitution day, federalists, george_washington, rhode_island_history, united_states_constitution  

Constitution Day -- September 17th: a display of library materials and web resources on ratification of the Constitution
Last Updated: Apr 2, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Constitution Day

Constitution Day Events
Constitution Day Events
September 17, 2010

Celebrate the Birthday of Our American Government

A history of the holiday.  On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time in Philadelphia to sign the document they had created.  However, the first observance of the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States was held  over 70 years later, shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War.   Then in 1940,  Congress set aside the third Sunday in May as “I Am an American” Day, which honored those who had become U.S. citizens during the preceding year. These two holidays were combined in 1952 and were celebrated in that year on September 17th as Citizenship Day.  The holiday is presently referred to by both Consitution Day and Citizenship Day. 

Interestingly, although Convention delegates put four months of negotiating into the document,  ratification by the last of the states took two and a half years to achieve and the Constitution that was finally ratified by the 13th state (Rhode Island) on May 29, 1790, had been substantially amended by that time.



Constitution Day Educational Mandate

It was not until 2005, when Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) added Section lll(b) of Title I of Division J of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 which mandated that all federally-aided educational institutions in the country were enlisted to "attack the sorry state of historical and political knowledge among the nation's youth." The clause, quietly tucked into the omnibus spending bill, mandates the following:

Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.

American Democracy Project at RIC

The American Democracy Project (ADP) at Rhode Island College is a campus initiative that promotes political engagement throughout the state.


The U.S. Constitution

Page One of the original copy of the Constitution (Image from

Transcription of the Constitution.

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