On September 17, 1787, 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the U.S. Constitution. This moment signified the birth of our government. The constitution is the foundation of ideas on which America was founded-commitments to the rule of law, limited government and the ideals of liberty, equality and justice for all-are embodied in the Constitution.
Some of the most notable founding fathers to sign the Constitution include:
|Washington was the commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War and served as the first President of the United States of America.||Franklin was a noted polymath, leading author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.||Hamilton was the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, a Founding Father, economist, political philosopher and led calls for the Philadelphia Convention.||Sherman was an early American lawyer and statesman, as well as a Founding Father. He was the only person to sign all four great state papers of the U.S.|
Constitution Day is intended to celebrate the ideas that make us American, not just the birthday of our government. Constitution Day is celebrated on September 17th of each year unless September 17th falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday. In these cases, Constitution Day will be held on the preceding or following day.
This year is the 226th anniversary of the Constitution.
The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States. Empowered with the sovereign authority of the people by the framers and the consent of the legislatures of the states, it is the source of all government powers, and also provides important limitations on the government that protect the fundamental rights of United States citizens. The U.S. Constitution is the oldest written national constitution still in operation. Many nations have used this model for their own constitutions. Over the years, the Constitution has become a symbol to Americans and to the world of our political principles and the democratic way of life.
The need for the Constitution grew out of problems with the Articles of Confederation, which established a "firm league of friendship" between the states, and vested most power in a Congress of the Confederation. This power was, however, extremely limited — the central government conducted diplomacy and made war, set weights and measures, and was the final arbiter of disputes between the states. Crucially, it could not raise any funds itself, and was entirely dependent on the states themselves for the money necessary to operate. Each state sent a delegation of between two and seven members to the Congress, and they voted as a bloc with each state getting one vote. But any decision of consequence required a unanimous vote, which led to a government that was paralyzed and ineffectual.
A movement to reform the Articles began, and invitations to attend a convention in Philadelphia to discuss changes to the Articles were sent to the state legislatures in 1787. In May of that year, delegates from 12 of the 13 states (Rhode Island sent no representatives) convened in Philadelphia to begin the work of redesigning government. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention quickly began work on drafting a new Constitution for the United States.
To learn more about the Constitutional Convention and drafting of the Constitution, vist www.whitehouse.gov
The most famous words of the Constitution that we know may be “The Preamble.” It states:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The preamble sets the source of the authority on which the Constitution rests, and, the six goals for which the government is to be established and upon which it is to operate.
Read a full transcript of the U.S. Constitution with Amendments and a complete list of the Founding Fathers who signed it here.
To learn more about the U.S. Constitution, the National Constitution Center is a great resource to read the constitution, with videos and other great information. More informative facts can also be found at www.constitutionday.com.