Editor’s note: Urbana Chapter DAR invites all to the 4 p.m. Sept. 17, Constitution Week Program and Bell-Ringing Ceremony at Freedom Grove, located near the southwest corner of South U.S. Route 68 and state Route 55. Bells are welcome. The DAR submitted information briefs (such as the one accompanying this column) concerning the U.S. Constitution to be published leading up to and during Constitution Week (Sept. 17-23).
Sept. 17 begins the national celebration of Constitution Week. The week-long commemoration of America’s most important document is one of our country’s least known official observances. Our Constitution stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to maintain their liberties and freedom, and to ensure those inalienable rights to every American.
The tradition of celebrating the Constitution was started many years ago by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). In 1955, the Daughters petitioned Congress to set aside September 17-23 annually to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week. The resolution was later adopted by the U. S. Congress and signed into Public Law #915 on August 2, 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The aims of the celebration are to (1) emphasize citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution, preserving it for posterity; (2) inform the people that the Constitution is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation for our way of life; and (3) encourage the study of the historical events which led to the framing pf the Constitution in September 1787.
The United State of America functions as a Republic under the Constitution, which is the oldest document still in active use that outlines the self-government of a people. This landmark idea that men had the inalienable right as individuals to be free and live their lives under their own governance was the impetus of the American Revolution. Today, the Constitution stands as an icon of freedom for people around the world. Constitution Week is the perfect opportunity to read and study this great document which is the safeguard of our American liberties. Imagine creating a document that governs your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren! That’s what the men of the 1787 Constitution convention did.
Writing the U.S. Constitution
– The Constitution was written in the Pennsylvania State House where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where George Washington received his commission as Commander of the Army. It is now called Independence Hall.
– Written in 1787, the Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, but it wasn’t until 1788 that it was ratified by the necessary nine states.
– The U.S. Constitution was prepared in secret, behind locked doors that were guarded by sentries.
– Some framers/delegates in the state ratifying conventions were very troubled that the original Constitution lacked a description of individual rights. In 1791, a list of rights was added. The first 10 amendments became known as The Bill of Rights
– Of the 55 delegates attending the Constitutional Convention, 39 signed and 3 delegates dissented. Two of America’s “Founding Fathers” didn’t sign. Thomas Jefferson was ambassador to France and John Adams was ambassador to Great Britain.
– Established on Nov. 26, 1789, the first national “Thanksgiving Day” was created by George Washington as a way of “giving thanks” for the Constitution.
– The U.S. Constitution is the oldest and shortest of all the written Constitutions.
– Ben Franklin (81) was the oldest delegate. Jonathon Dayton (26) was the youngest.
– The original Constitution is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping.
– More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in Congress. Thirty-three have gone to the states to be ratified and 27 have received the necessary approval from the states to actually become amendments to the Constitution.
Submitted by Judith Henson of Urbana Chapter DAR’s Constitution Day Committee.