Celebrate Constitution Week

Constitution of the United States. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration

Constitution of the United States. Photo Credit: National Archives and Records Administration

On September 17, the United States celebrates an important anniversary. On that date in 1787, 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention added their signature to a document that would become the “supreme law of the land”—the U.S. Constitution. James Wilson, a delegate from Philadelphia, proudly stated that “it is the best form of government which has ever been offered to the world.”

In 1956, Congress established the days of September 17 through September 23, each year as Constitution Week. To honor the importance of the signing of the Constitution, President George W. Bush signed a declaration proclaiming September 17 (the day that the Constitution was officially signed) as Citizenship Day. Bush hoped that people across the country would organize ceremonies to honor the Constitution and celebrate American citizenship.

The Constitution of the United States is a complex document that has guided this nation for over 200 years. Scholars have spent their lives interpreting it and tracking its changes.

To help you better understand this most important document, the National Constitution Center has provided an Interactive Constitution on its Web site. This digital document will help you view the full text of the Constitution or break down your study into the document’s different parts. If you want to learn more about the Constitution, read through the FAQs.

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What Do You Think? How would you celebrate the importance of the Constitution? What kinds of classroom activities do you think could help get your classmates involved in a project that educates people on the Constitution’s importance?
Dig Deeper Look at the famous image of Howard Chandler Christy’s painting “Signing of the Constitution.” (To see the full version of the image, visit the Architect of the Capitol Web site. ) The artist included many people in this painting, but the eye is immediately drawn to a single person. Who is that person? What techniques did the artist use to make him the focal point of this painting?
Share What You Know If you were born in this country, you were lucky enough to have citizenship given to you automatically. But what if you are from another country? How could you become a United States citizen? You and other foreign-born residents would have to follow the procedures for naturalization outlined in the Constitution and administered by the national government. Could you answer the questions necessary to become a citizen? Take this government-created self test and see what you still need to learn.