The Constitution of the United States is the world's longest surviving written charter of government. Every year, on September 17th, Americans commemorate the adoption of the Constitution and those who have become United States citizens. The date marks Constitution Day and Citizenship Day in the United States, honoring the signing of the Constitution and those taking steps to become U.S. citizens. September also marks the beginning of Constitution Week, which takes place from September 17th through the 23rd.
The Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights and other amendments define our government and guarantee the rights of citizens. The first three words, "We The People," affirms that the United States government exists to serve its citizens. It also shaped Congress, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives, and their responsibilities.
Constitution Day and Citizenship Day honor and observe that significant moment in history. Why not mark the day with custom challenge coins full of patriotism and pride? We can help.
History of The Constitution of the United States
On September 17th, 1787, members of the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution. The history of the Constitution begins with the Continental Congress. From 1774 to 1781, the Continental Congress served as the provisional government of the United States. Delegates of the First and Second Continental Congress were chosen through committees in various colonies rather than the governments of the thirteen colonies.
The Second Continental Congress drafted the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in 1781, the United States' first constitution. The Articles of Confederation gave very little power to the government. The Confederation Congress could make decisions but had no enforcement powers. The Articles of Confederation failed to bring unity to the various states, and Congress was essentially paralyzed.
In 1787, the Confederation Congress called a convention of state delegates in Philadelphia to propose revisions to the Articles. The convention was not meant for new laws, but for revising the Articles of Confederation. Twelve states were represented in the convention, and deliberations began. Rhode Island was the only state not to send delegates. Two plans came from the convention, The Virginia Plan and The New Jersey Plan.
The Virginia plan proposed a government with two separate houses, with both chambers elected with apportionment according to population. The New Jersey Plan proposed a government with one house, with one vote per state. A committee met from July 2nd to the 16th to work out a compromise on the issue of representation.
The Great Compromise proposed proportional representation for the House of Representatives based on population and equal representation for each state in the Senate. The compromise ended in a stalemate, which led to many other compromises. A committee was formed and presented with a draft of a detailed constitution, including the resolutions passed by the convention up to that point. The committee discussed the draft section by section and clause by clause, while they included other compromises.
The committee appointed Alexander Hamilton, William Samuel Johnson, Rufus King, James Madison, and Gouverneur Morris to draft a final version. The group presented to draft to the convention on September 12th, with seven articles. The final document was presented at the convention's final session. Eleven state delegations and the final delegate from New York, Alexander Hamilton, approved the proposal by the end of the convention. Rhode Island was the only one of the 13 original states to refuse to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention, due to distrust of a powerful federal government.
Each state was to call elections for a Federal Convention to ratify the new Constitution. On September 28th, 1788, Congress submitted the Constitution to the states for action. On June 21st, 1788, the constitution was ratified by the minimum number of states required. The Continental Congress passed a resolution on September 13th, 1788, to put the new Constitution into operation, and the federal government began operations under the new form on March 4th, 1789.
Citizenship and The Constitution
Citizenship is directly tied to the U.S. Constitution. The 14th Amendment defines citizenship as “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
The 14th Amendment was the first step in amendments that defined citizens and their rights. It took decades to enforce some of those rights, including the right to vote. The 15th and 19th Amendments define those rights for blacks and women, though it wasn't until 1924 that all Native Americans were granted citizenship.
History of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
Constitution Day dates back to 1911, when schools in Iowa first recognized Constitution Day. In 1917, the Sons of the American Revolution formed a committee to promote the day. Members included Calvin Coolidge, John D. Rockefeller, and General John Pershing.
In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared “I Am An American Day," which was celebrated on the third Sunday in May. By 1949, all 48 states had issued Constitution Day proclamations. On February 29th, 1952, Congress changed the name from “I am an American Day” to “Citizenship Day” and moved its observation to September 17th. In 2004 the day was renamed Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.
Observing Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
There are many ways one can observe this special holiday. Find out more about the history of the Constitution and the rights it declares for us, the citizens. Learn more about the process of becoming a citizen of the United States, and study the people who brought the Constitution to life. You can also commemorate the special day with a custom challenge coin. These small tokens have significant meaning and can be customized to your liking. Get creative and celebrate this special day with a memorable token that will be cherished for years.
The Constitution of the United States is one of the two most important document in our country’s history. It’s the foundation for the freedoms we enjoy and every citizen's rights. Celebrating the Constitution and our citizenship is unique, and we can help make the day even more special. Let’s design custom challenge coins that represent the importance of our Constitution and citizenship, which embraces our country's past, present, and future. Take a look at our coin gallery for inspiration for your design.