Constitution and Citizenship Day

Constitution and Citizenship Day

This combined holiday of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is celebrated every year by the United States on September 17. One celebrates the signing of the United States Constitution and the other celebrates citizenship and becoming a citizen. The two are closely associated, as the signing of the Constitution made all of the colonists Americans citizens that day.

Presidential proclamations will ask observers to fly the American flag. Schools, libraries, and museums may hold special educational programs, educating students and others on citizenship and the signing of the constitution. Schools that receive support from federal funds are required to give students lessons on the Constitution by the US Department of Education. Colleges often hold “U.S. Constitution and Citizenship Weeks” to meet this requirement.

The Center for Civic Education holds programs for both Constitution Dan and Citizenship Day. Some organizations hold events the help people become citizens or learn about becoming a citizen. Centers such as the National Archives Building sometimes hold ceremonies.

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Background

The first Constitution Day was celebrated in 1911 by Iowa schools. The Sons of the American Revolution promoted Constitution Day a few years later by forming a promotion committee—members included John D. Rockefeller and Calvin Coolidge. After “I Am an American Day” was held at the World’s Fair, William Randolph Hears began campaigning for a citizenship holiday, resulting in “I am an American Day” to be designated on the third Sunday of every May in 1939, which received support from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. It was renamed to “Citizenship Day” to be held every September 17th in 1952.

In 2004, this was changed to “Constitution day and Citizenship Day,” to include celebration of the constitution in the holiday and add educational mandates.

About the Constitution

The Constitution is considered the supreme law of the United States. The document establishes powers and laws for the three branches of government—executive, legislative, and judicial. It includes the first Ten Amendments, the Bill of Rights, with seventeen amendments after that. The Constitution also contains seven articles, which lay out the government branches and deal with federalist issues.

IN 1786, a precursor to the Constitution was the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union but, lacking the legal authority to collect taxes from the states, the Continental Congress struggled to enforce the document. These first few years without an established set of laws caused confusion and tension of the relationship between the states and the federal government. The United States also lacked the funds to defend itself from attack. States did not pay the full amount of taxes and some refused to pay any money at all.

As a response to these problems, the Constitutional Convention was called on February 21, 1787, a convention of state delegates. Only delegates from Virginia and Pennsylvania showed up to the first meeting and seven showed on the next meeting on May 25.

Eventually, even support showed so that the Convention could be held on May 25, 1787. Topics of concern were the federal and state relationships, the economy, and international relations. After much discussion, debate, and many proposals, the delegates decided on a method of governing that assured the representation of the people.

This group became the framers of the constitution, which included James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. The group that drafted the Constitution was John Rutlage, Edmond Randolph, Nathaniel Gorham, Oliver Ellsworth, and James Wilson. The preamble begins the famous phrase, “We the People.” The Declaration of Independence was also written with a council of five. Thirty-nine delegates signed the Constitution and three refused. The states then had to ratify the constitution, requiring only nine states to pass. The last state ratified the Constitution in May of 1790. However, the Continental Congress has passed the Constitution through a resolution on September 13, 1788 in order to begin enforcement.

Facts about immigration and citizenship

  • 14% of new residents come from Mexico. China brought 7.9% from China and 6.4% came from India
  • Those who have loved ones in the United States will have an easier time immigrating
  • If an immigrant has valuable skills, they are also more likely to be able to immigrate
  • In 2012, more than a million immigrants became citizens
  • Children born in the US automatically receive US citizenship
  • The United States Citizenship Test has many questions that most Americans can’t even answer
  • If American citizens give birth outside of the country, their child is given American citizenship
  • Non-citizens can be naturalized after living in the US for five years
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