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Constitution Day

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 as amended : unratified amendments, analytical index

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

Call No: Docs Y 1.1/7:106-215

The Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence
The philosophy of the American Constitution: a reinterpretation of the intentions of the founding fathers

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

Call No: KF4541 C37 1987

The Case against the Constitution : from the Antifederalists to the present
In defense of the constitution

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

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 (Children's 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 (Children's Collection)

Title: Understanding constitutional issues : selections from The CQ researcher

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

Call No: KF4550.Z9 U537 2004

Understanding constitutional issues : selections from The CQ researcher
The man behind the quill : Jacob Shallus, calligrapher of the United States Constitution

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

Call No: 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