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Hamersly Library

Constitution Day: Home

Celebrate your civic pride by learning more about the history of the Constitution and US Government.

What is Constitution Day?

An image of the preamble to the US Constitution

Constitution Day, according to the Library of Congress, "is observed each year on September 17 to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, and “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”"

The holiday has been observed in some form or another since 1940, when it was initially intended to celebrate new American citizens.  Over the years, its date and form has changed somewhat, but the holiday is still all about being an American citizen—no matter how that happens.

Read on to find more resources about Constitution Day, the Constitution, and American citizenship in general!

The Constitution

The Document Itself

George Washington's Annotated copy of a draft of the Constitution - Washington's personal notes on an early draft of the Constitution (free to read for everyone).

Constitution as proposed in 1787 - The text as it was originally adopted (free to read for everyone).

Full Text of the US Constitution - Read the current version of this foundational document in its entirety from The Constitute Project (free to read for everyone).

Annotated US Constitution and Declaration of Independence by Jack Rakove - Both texts, complete with annotations (ebook; WOU login required).

Bill of Rights Transcript - Text of the Bill of Rights, from the National Archives (free to read for everyone).

 

 

Interpretation & Commentary

Living Constitution, by David Strauss - This e-book makes the argument that the Constitution was always intended to be a dynamic document, rather than an unchangeable set of rules (ebook; WOU login required).

American Constitution and Religion by Richard J. Reagan - A study of Supreme Court rulings on religion, as it pertains to the first amendment (ebook; WOU login required).

Women and the U.S. Constitution History, Interpretation, and Practice, Sibyl A. Schwarzenbach and Patricia Smith, editors - A collection of Feminist essays on the Constitution as it pertains to women's rights and other matters (ebook; WOU login required).

Cotton and Race in the Making of America The Human Costs of Economic Power, by Gene Dattel - An overview of race in America, including several chapters on the issue of race and slavery at the Constitutional Convention (ebook; WOU login required).

The Constitutional Convention

Painting of the Constitutional Convention, showing various political figures

Historical Documents

James Madison's "Notes on Debates at the Federal Convention." - Available online from Yale University's Avalon project (free for everyone to read).

Official Records of the Constitutional Convention - A collection of letters, credentials, and other documents relating to the convention.  Available online from Ancestry.com's "Fold3" project (free for everyone to read).

 

Secondary Works

Miracle at Philadelphia : the story of the Constitutional Convention, May to September 1787, by Catherine Drinker Bowen - Print book at WOU.

Novus ordo seclorum : the intellectual origins of the Constitution, by Forrest McDonald - Print book at WOU

Recreating the American Republic : Rules of Apportionment, Constitutional Change, and American Political Development: 1700-1870 by Charles A. Kromkowski - A historical analysis of the early years of the American Republic, including the Constitutional Convention (WOU login required).

Prominent Signers

Biographies

Benjamin Franklin - An interactive exhibit from the History Channel, with videos and text that provide an overview of Franklin's life, including his role in the Constitutional Convention (free for everyone to access).

James Madison - An interactive exhibit from the History Channel, with videos and text that provide an overview of Madison's life, including his role in the penning and ratifying the Constitution (free for everyone to access).

Thomas Jefferson - An interactive exhibit from the History Channel, with videos and text that provide an overview of Jefferson's life (free for everyone to access).

George Washington - An interactive exhibit from the History Channel, with videos and text that provide an overview of Washington's life (free for everyone to access).

All signers of the Constitution - A list of everyone who signed the Constitution, with biographies, from the National Archives (free for everyone to read).

 

Writings

George Washington: A Collection - A selection of Washington's letters and other writing (ebook; WOU login required).

Thomas Jefferson's Political Writings - A selection of Jefferson's essays on various topics (ebook; WOU login required).

Not Your Usual Founding Father Selected Readings from Benjamin Franklin - Selected writings from Benjamin Franklin, including famous and lesser-known works (ebook; WOU login required).

The Federalist Papers - 85 essays written by Madison, Hamilton, and others to convince the populace of New York to ratify the Constitution (ebook; WOU login required).

Citizenship Today

Naturalization

Becoming a US Citizen - An overview of what's required to become a naturalized US citizen.

Mock Citizenship Test - This is the test that anyone who wants to become a naturalized citizen has to pass.  How do you score? 

Voting

Rock the Vote - Register to vote online, and learn more about the importance of voting.

USA.gov - Information on voting and the election process from the US government's official site.

Citizenship

Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities - The duties and individual rights of US citizens, with associated documents.

The 21st Century Citizen - A series of editorials and opinion pieces from the LA Times about the issues of being a US citizen in the 21st century.

Additional Resources

Commemorating Constitution Day and Citizenship Day - Resources and links from the Department of Education

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day - Resources and links from the Library of Congress

US Senate: Constitution Day - A history of the holiday from the US Senate