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Constitution Day  

Last Updated: Jul 10, 2014 URL: http://libguides.wofford.edu/constitutionday Print Guide RSS Updates

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The History of Constitution Day

 

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day commemorates the formation and signing on September 17, 1787, of the Constitution and recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens. The law establishing the holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus Spending Bill of 2004.  Before this law was enacted, the holiday was known as "Citizenship Day". In addition to renaming the holiday "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day," the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day.  In May 2005, the U.S. Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.

More Online Sources for the History of the Constitution

  • A More Perfect Union:
    Based on the Introduction by Roger A. Bruns to A More Perfect Union : The Creation of the United States Constitution. Washington, DC : Published for the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Introduction to the Constitutional Convention
    From TeachingAmericanHistory.org, an excellent introduction to the Constitutional Convention
  • The Making of the U.S. Constitution
    When Joseph Gales compiled the early debates and proceedings of Congress for publication in 1834 he chose to introduce the first volume with a brief history of the making of the Constitution followed by the text of the Constitution itself, "as originally adopted," that is, without the amendments we know as the Bill of Rights.

The Constitutional Convention

The United States Constitution was signed by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17th, 1787.  The final document was signed by 39 of the original 55 delegates, pictured below in the famous painting by Howard Chandler Christy.  The Convention met for over four months debating the provisions and language of the Constitution.

South Carolina's Delegates to the Constitutional Convention

Ranging in age from 29 to 48, South Carolina's delegates to the Constitutional Convention were all white, male slaveholders drawn from the state's aristocracy.

  • John Rutledge
    Planter, slave holder, lawyer, and judge, Rutledge was born in 1739 in Charleston. He was 48 years old when he attended the Convention, where he "maintained a moderate nationalist stance....spoke often and effectively...[and] vigorously advocated southern interests."
  • Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
    One of the two Pinckneys that attended the Convention, Cotesworth Pinckney was educated in Europe and practiced law before fighting on the colonists' side during the Revolutionary War. The National Archives calls him "one of the leaders of the Constitutional Convention[;]....he strongly advocated a powerful national government." He later gained notoriety for his role in the XYZ affair.
  • Charles Pinckney
    Second cousin the Cotesworth Pinckney, at 29 he was the youngest member of the S.C. delegation. Considered a leader at the convention, "he is best known for his proslavery position," yet the young aristocrat's "ideas mov[ed] ever closer to democracy" as his political career progressed.
  • Pierce Butler
    Of Irish/British aristocratic descent and trained as a soldier, Butler married into S.C. aristocracy and moved to Charleston in 1771 to become a planter. At the convention "he was an outspoken nationalist and [....] key spokesman for the Madison-Wilson caucus. Butler also supported the interests of southern slaveholders."

Historic Sites in S.C.

 

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