To the American people, September 17th marks a very special event in United States history. But what is US Constitution Day and Citizenship Day all about?
Do you know why Americans celebrate this day and what is its origins?
Well, read on as I will explain.
US Constitution Day and Citizenship Day – September 17th
(Date changed to preceding or the following weekday if it falls on Saturday or Sunday)
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History of US Constitution Day and Citizenship Day!
The significance of this date goes back to the signing of the Constitution of the United States on September 17th, 1787.
However, the commemoration of this date is surprisingly much more recent.
Would you be surprised to learn that this special day is less than 80 years old?
The Changing Name of September 17th!
It was in 1939 when newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst requested there to be a day where people could celebrate United States Citizenship.
This day was subsequently created by Congress the following year in 1940. But the name for this day would be “I Am An American Day“.
And instead of it being celebrated in mid-September as we do today it originally fell on the third Sunday in May.
Twelve years later on February 29th, 1952 President Harry Truman would change this name to “Citizenship Day“. This was done by signing it into law.
This date would thus recognize anyone who had become an American citizen.
Then on August 2nd, 1956 Congress wanted there to be a week-long celebration. The celebration would begin on September 17th and end on September 23rd.
Congress also requested that the President proclaim this week to be called “Constitution Week“.
And finally, in December 2004, this special day in September would be renamed as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day“.
Correction – If you want to be factually correct Constitution Day was first recognized by schools in Iowa much further back in 1911.
It was then in 1917 when the Sons of the American Revolution first promoted Constitution Day.
What Happened on September 17th, 1787?
Alright, so I have already mentioned that this day in September is special as it marks the date that the US Constitution was signed.
But what really happened leading up to this date all those years ago in 1787?
The Formation of the Constitution!
During the summer of 1787 delegates gathered in the state of Philadelphia because they wanted “a more perfect union“.
There were 39 brave men in all who wanted to put together the American Constitution.
Some of these brave men included:
- George Washington – Commander of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. Washington would later become the first President of the United States of America.
- Benjamin Franklin – Known for being an author and printer, as well as an inventor, politician, and scientist among other things.
- Alexander Hamilton – The first United States Secretary of the Treasury. He was an economist and political philosopher.
- Thomas Jefferson – Becoming Vice President in 1796, and then in 1800 becoming President. He though did not sign the Constitution as he was in France at the time serving as US minister.
Even though George Washington was one of the delegates it was James Madison who is considered as the father of the Constitution.
He was a key figure in the drafting of this important document.
The Signing of the Constitution!
A framework was thus developed that would provide balance and freedom. Both the federal and states interests were to be taken into account.
Importantly the rights of every American citizen were also taken into account.
This framework, or rather the Constitution of the United States, was signed by the delegates on September 17th, 1787.
It was not until June 21st, 1788 that this constitution would come into effect. It was approved by 9 of the 13 original states of America.
What Do People Do On US Constitution Day and Citizenship Day?
Although September 17th is not a federal holiday it is still encouraged that all citizens observe this very important day in America’s history. You can do this in a number of ways.
What you will see on this day!
The President of the United States may make a proclamation each year requesting that the country’s flag be displayed on government buildings on this date.
The colors of the American flag, them being red, white, and blue, will feature predominantly on this day by all proud Americans.
Artwork displaying the founding fathers may also be seen on this day as well as the words “We the People“. And this was written in the Constitution.
These Constitution Day posters can easily be found by searching on Google.
What Can You Do On This Day?
The President may also request that people observe this event within their community. Places, where events could take place, could include schools or churches.
A range of events and activities will take place by various civil and educational authorities.
The act that renamed this day to “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day” in 2004 mandates that there will be educational programming. This will allow people to be taught about the history of the American Constitution.
So, this programming will teach the significance of this date in American history. As well as that the formation and signing of the Constitution, and also who the founding fathers were.
You may also wish to see to test your knowledge with a 10 question Constitution Day Quiz.
Please be advised though that this is quite a tricky quiz so you may want to take it with friends or family.
Did You Know About Australian Citizenship Day?
September 17th is not only special to the American people but also to Australians. And for the same reason as well.
Although again this day in September is not a public holiday the Australian people will reflect on the meaning and the importance of their citizenship.
It is a day for them to think about what unites all Australian people and to take pride in their country and its values.
But also on this day they celebrate the role that ordinary citizens have played to shape the country that it is today.
My Final Thoughts!
The United States of America has a very proud history.
And even though Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is not a holiday I still feel that it is important to be proud to be an American.
I also feel that it is important to know about the history of America, as well as the formation and the signing of the Constitution.
I hope that this post has enlightened you as to why this is a very special day.
Why is this day on a genealogy site?
Well as a genealogist I am interested in history and also I am curious to find out everything that I possibly can out about my ancestors.
I am fascinated about is learning about the migration of my ancestors.
Where did they originally come from?
Why did they move from wherever?
Did they move between the states or did they come from a foreign land?
It’s one thing to learn about where your ancestors came from but discovering why they made the move is something else completely.
As you learn more and more about your ancestors you want to know why they made the decisions that they did.
At least that is what happened to me!
Where do you look for that information?
Genealogy search websites are a great place to start where you can find so many records about your ancestors.
Records that will prove invaluable for your family history research will be passenger lists and naturalization records.
Ancestry is a very popular site where you can find your immigrant ancestors.
And besides these records, you can find out so much more about your family tree through census records, military records, convict records, and so on and so on.
FindMyPast is another great genealogy site that I have used to research my ancestors.
There are literally billions of records that you can search through within their databases.
If you think that you have to pay to access these records then think again, as you can discover your immigrant ancestors for FREE!
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
I hope you enjoyed this post explaining to you what is US Constitution Day and Citizenship Day all about. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.
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6 thoughts on “What Is US Constitution Day and Citizenship Day All About?”
This is interesting. I didn’t realize that we had an actual day designated to remembering the Constitution. Go figure! In middle school we spent a full year studying the Bill of Rights and the different amendments and why they were necessary. I have been taught on a nearly constant basis how important it is to know our Constitution. You can’t know your rights have been violated if you don’t even know your rights, right?
This is good information! I’ve learned something new.
Hi Rae, well that is certainly true that if you don’t know your rights then you don’t know I feel they have been violated. I feel that we should all know our rights so I am glad that you were taught this in middle school. It’s always good to keep refreshed though.
I must be honest, I am a US citizen and I didn’t know that we had a day for American citizens. This is good information, very educational indeed. Thank you for the teaching. After reading all your post I think I will be searching about my ancestors a little bit more. Very nice post.
Thanks Handres for the comment. I am glad that you liked the post. I think it’s important to know about our country’s heritage, as well as our family tree.
All the best for your genealogy research.
I’m from the UK myself so I don’t know much about any of these days, I know that they are a big part of the USA heritage and I think it’s great you guys still keep it alive by celebrating it.
Thanks for this very informative post and I have bookmarked it so I can study it more
Thanks for the comment Matthew. The US does have quite a number of holidays and special days. Not only do I love learning about the origins and meanings of these days but I also love to learn about these kinds of days from all over the world.
You maybe interested to check out my Religion and Saints section of the site. If you scroll down the page you will see many informative posts about Patron Saints of the UK.