Constitution Day (United States)

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Constitution.jpeg
Constitution Day or Citizenship Day is the U.S. federal day of observance on September 17 that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. September 17 is the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.[1]

History

Federal establishment

In 1940, Congress designated the third Sunday in May as "I am an American Day." On February 29, 1952, Congress moved that observation to September 17 and renamed it Citizenship Day.[2]

The law establishing the holiday once again as Constitution Day, merging it with Citizenship Day, was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004.[3] In addition to giving the holiday, previously known as Citizenship Day, the additional name Constitution Day, the act mandated that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day.[4] 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.[5]

Early observance

Iowa schools first recognized Constitution Day in 1911.[6] In 1917, the Sons of the American Revolution formed a committee to promote Constitution Day. The committee ultimately included members such as Calvin Coolidge, John D. Rockefeller, and General John Pershing.[6]

In 1939, William Randolph Hearst advocated, through his chain of daily newspapers, the creation of a holiday to celebrate citizenship.[7] By 1949, governors of all 48 states had issued Constitution Day proclamations.[6]

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.[8]

Timeline

  • 1911: Iowa schools first recognized Constitution Day[6]
  • 1917: the Sons of the American Revolution formed a committee to promote Constitution Day[6]
  • 1939: William Randolph Hearst advocated, through his chain of daily newspapers, the creation of a holiday to celebrate citizenship.[7]
  • 1949: Governors of all 48 states had issued Constitution Day proclamations.[6]
  • 1952:
Louisville, Ohio, resident Olga T. Weber petitioned municipal officials to establish Constitution Day
Louisville Mayor Gerald A. Romary proclaimed September 17, 1952, as Constitution Day
Congress establishes September 17 as Citizenship Day
  • 1957: City Council of Louisville declared the city Constitution Town
  • 2004: Congress merges Citizenship Day and Constitution day into one observance on September 17 and requires schools to provide educational programming about the Constitution.[3]
  • 2005: the United States Department of Education announces the enactment of the educational requirement for all federally funded schools.[5]

Observance

According to the law establishing September 17 as Constitution Day, it must be observed by all federally funded schools through educational material on the history of the American Constitution. This holiday is not observed by granting time off work for federal employees. When Constitution Day falls on a weekend or on another holiday, schools and other institutions observe the holiday on an adjacent weekday.[5] This was the case in 2005, 2006 and again in 2011. In 2005 and 2011 Constitution Day was observed on Friday, September 16, rather than on Saturday, September 17. In 2006 the holiday was held on Monday, September 18, instead of on Sunday.[3]

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) created a celebration week that includes Constitution Trivia Contests, distribution of free copies of the U.S. Constitution, a campus and community fair, in which volunteer and community groups can share information with students and a web page with facts and links related to the Constitution and history of the United States. During past Constitution Weeks, MSOE has also distributed thousands of free t-shirts with presidential quotes to all students on campus.[9]

See also

Ballotpedia:Index of Terms

External links

BallotpediaAvatar bigger.png
Suggest a link

References

  1. "Sec. 106. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day". TITLE 36--Patriotic And National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations. United States Government. 2006-01-03. http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&docid=Cite:+36USC106. Retrieved on August 12, 2008. 
  2. Anne Edwards (1987). Early Reagan: The Rise to Power. William Morrow and Company, 267. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Krache, Donna (September 16, 2005). "Constitution Day ushers in mandate to teach the Constitution". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/09/16/constitution.day/. Retrieved on August 12, 2008. 
  4. "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005". United States Government. December 8, 2004. http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ447.108. Retrieved on August 12, 2008.  § 111
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Notice of Implementation of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on September 17 of Each Year". United States Department of Education. 2005-05-24. http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/other/2005-2/052405b.html. Retrieved on August 12, 2008. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 in Williams, Winston C.: Centennial History of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution 1889-1989. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 9. Retrieved on January 15, 2011. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Lory Student Center at Colorado State University: "Constitution Day," accessed January 28, 2014
  8. "History of Louisville Ohio". Archived from the original on 2008-08-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20080803052208/http://www.louisvilleohio.com/Community/history.htm. Retrieved on August 12, 2008. 
  9. "U.S. Constitution and Citizenship Week". http://www.msoe.edu/events/1295. Retrieved on January 28, 2014.