Every year, Constitution Day marks the signing of of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. Although Independence Day and Presidents’ Day were marked as such for many years, it was not until 1940 that the seeds of a Constitution Day were planted. “I am an American Day” was celebrated on the third Sunday of May and celebrated American citizenship. The holiday quickly gained popularity across the United States and the date was changed to September 17 during the 1950s to better reflect the origins of American citizenship. The name of the day also became the simpler “Citizenship Day.”
It was not until 2004 that Congress designated September 17 as Constitution Day alongside the existing Citizenship Day. This designation required all public schools and government offices to hold educational programming to promote constitutional literacy. The Jack Miller Center honors this important date every year by funding educational lectures across the country. These lectures further the Center’s mission of civic literacy and encourage citizens to learn more about our country’s origins.
Below is a collection of resources featured for Constitution Day 2022. Browse these resources or jump from section to section by clicking the links below:
In 2022, 60 campuses and institutions around the nation are partnering with the Jack Miller Center to conduct Constitution Day events for students and the public. This day engages students in conversations about the role and meaning of the Constitution in American political life.
2022 Constitution Day Events
The battle for the soul of our nation will be won or lost in our classrooms.™ –Jack Miller
Abraham Lincoln, “Fragment on the Constitution and Union” c. January 1861 From the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln:
“All this is not the result of accident. It has a philosophical cause. Without the Constitution and the Union, we could not have attained the result; but even these, are not the primary cause of our great prosperity. There is something back of these, entwining itself more closely about the human heart. That something, is the principle of “Liberty to all” — the principle that clears the path for all — gives hope to all — and, by consequence, enterprize, and industry to all.”
Selected online resources for Constitution Day:
The New Thinkery: Ben Kleinerman on the Federalist Papers
In honor of Constitution Day 2021, The New Thinkery podcast hosted a special Constitution Day episode with Benjamin Kleinerman, JMC board member and R.W. Morrison Chair of Political Science at Baylor University. From JMC’s 2021 Summer Institute, the group discussed several of the Federalist Papers and what their respective authors thought the U.S. regime need be wary of as it progressed.
The JMC First Amendment Library
The JMC First Amendment Library holds a wealth of resources on the history, law, theory, and development of religious liberty and freedom of speech in the United States.
The National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia has several online resources for learning about the Constitution, its background, and current constitutional controversies.
Fellow Greg Weiner’s Views on Teaching Constitution Day
“When I assign students in my American Government classes to read the Constitution, a document whose birthday the nation commemorates on September 17, I ask them how many have read the main body of it—really read it, front to back—before. Few raise their hands. They are college freshman and sophomores, mostly, having generally graduated from high schools with civics requirements…”
Constitution Day at the National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration celebrates Constitution Day with activities and online workshops.
The United States Senate on Constitution Day
The U.S. Senate played a key role in introducing Constitution Day legislation. Appropriately, the Senate’s website offers a history of the day.
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