CONSTITUTION Day is the day Americans celebrate every year to mark the signing of the US Constitution but why is it celebrated on September 17?
While most people outside of the United States recognise July 4 as Independence Day, they may not realise Constitution Day commemorates another key act of the US founding fathers.
The United States Constitution, the legal document by which the country is governed and the freedoms of its citizens guaranteed, was formed and signed on September 17, 1787.
Constitution Day is today also known as Citizenship Day as it honours people who have become US citizens through birth or via naturalisation.
If the day falls during a weekend or other holiday then schools and other institutions will recognise it on an adjacent day.
Where was the constitution written?
In 1787, America’s founding fathers gathered at the Pennsylvania State House to sign the document which would become the US constitution, 11 years after the country achieved its independence.
The assembled committee including George Washington, the first President of the United States, and Benjamin Franklin.
Some 42 delegates attended with 39 signing the document, following months of meetings spent negotiating the Articles of Confederation – the agreement that was the first constitution.
But the four-page document was not ratified until June 21, 1788 once it had been agreed by the minimum nine states required to do so.
Pledging liberty and justice for all US citizens, the constitution also lays out the powers of the states.
Under it, the government is divided into three separate branches: the legislative, the executive and the judicial with a set of checks and balances to stop any one authority becoming too powerful.
The document, which has undergone 27 amendments since, continues to be the legal blueprint by which America is governed.
When was Constitution Day first observed?
Public schools in Iowa are believed to be the first people to observe Constitution Day in 1911.
The holiday proved so popular, a committee was formed to promote an official Constitution Day in 1917.
However, it was not marked as an official holiday until 1953 after Louisville resident Olga T Weber petitioned city officials for one..
President Dwight D Eisenhower signed a resolution the following year marking September 17-23 as Constitution Week.
Then in 2004, the day was formally changed to Constitution Day and Citizenship Day through the passing of a new act.
Citizenship Day, previously known as “I am an American” Day, was previously marked on a different day of the year.
Now every year, schools must deliver education about the American Constitution on September 17.