Skip to content
Government Information: Spotlight on Current Displays
Go to Displays - Current
Go to Displays - Past

Constitution Day - September 17

Most Americans know that July 4th is our nation's birthday. Far fewer Americans know that September 17th is the birthday of our government, the date in 1787 on which delegates to the Philadelphia Convention completed and signed the U.S. Constitution.

The ideas on which America was founded--commitments to the rule of law, limited government and the ideals of liberty, equality and justice--are embodied in the Constitution, the oldest written constitution of any nation on Earth. Constitution Day is intended to celebrate not only the birthday of our government, but the ideas that make us Americans.

On September 17, 1787, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day, to sign the Constitution of the United States of America.

Signers of the Constitution

Since May 14, 1787 the 55 delegates had gathered almost daily in the State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. By the middle of June, it became apparent to the delegates that to merely amend the Articles of Confederation would not be sufficient. Instead, they would write an entirely new document designed to clearly define and separate the powers of the central government, the powers of the states, the rights of the people and how the representatives of the people should be elected.

After being signed in September of 1787, Congress sent printed copies of the Constitution to the state legislatures for ratification. In the months that followed, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay would write the Federalist Papers in support, while Patrick Henry, Elbridge Gerry, and George Mason would organize the opposition to the new Constitution. By June 21, 1788, nine states had approved the Constitution, finally forming "a more perfect Union."

Display case

More Information can be found on the following websites:

The Constitution of the United States of America

Title: The Constitution of the United States of America as amended : unratified amendments, analytical index / presented by Mr. Ney

Publication: Washington : U.S. G.P.O. , 2003.

Call No: Docs Y 1.1/7:108-95

Title: The Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence.

Publication: Washington, DC : U.S. G.P.O., 2000.

SuDoc: Docs Y 1.1/7:106-215

The Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence
The Philosophy of the American Constitution

Title: The philosophy of the American Constitution: a reinterpretation of the intentions of the founding fathers / Paul Eidelberg.

Publication: Lanham, MD : University Press of America, c1986. Reprint. Originally published: New York : Free Press, 1968.

Call No: KF4541 E33 1986

Title: The Case against the Constitution : from the Antifederalists to the present / edited by John F. Manley and Kenneth M. Dolbeare ; with a foreword by Jackson Turner Main.

Publication: Armonk, N.Y. : M.E. Sharpe, c1987.

SuDoc: KF4541 C37 1987

The Case Against the Constitution: from antifederalists to the present
In Defense of the Constitution

Title:In defense of the constitution / George W. Carey. Publication: Cumberland

Publication: Cumberland, Va. : James River Press, 1989.

Call No: KF4541 .C36 1989

Title: A more perfect union : the story of our Constitution / by Betsy and Giulio Maestro

Publication: New York : Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, c1987

Call No.: 342.73MAESTRO (Childrens Collection)

A More Perfect Union: the story of our Constitution
The Bill of Rights

Title: The Bill of Rights / by E. B. Fincher.

Publication: New York : F. Watts, c1978.

Call No: 342.73FINCHER (Childrens Collection)

Title: Understanding constitutional issues : selections from The CQ researcher.

Publication: Washington, D.C. : CQ Press, c2004.

Call No.: KF4550.Z9 U537 2004

Understanding Consitutional Issues: selections from the CQ Researcher
The Man Behind the Quill

Title: The man behind the quill : Jacob Shallus, calligrapher of the United States Constitution / Arthur Plotnik.

Publication: Washington, DC : National Archives and Records Administration, 1987.

Call No: Z43.42.S47 P57 1987


Cases which challenged the Courts

Title: Brown v. Board of Education / National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Publication: Washington, D.C. : National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior 2003.

SuDoc: Docs I 29.6/6:B 81

Brown v. Board of Education
United States Reports

Title: United States Reports  

  Vol. 344 U.S. 1, 141 (1952)
  Vol. 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
  Vol. 349 U.S. 294 (1955)

Publication: Washington, D.C. U.S. G.P.O.

Call No: Docs JU 6.8:

Title: Roe v. Wade : the abortion rights controversy in American history / N.E.H. Hull and Peter Charles Hoffer.

Publication: Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, c2001.

Call No.: KF228.R59 H85 2001

Roe v. Wade: the abortion rights controversy in American History