Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, designated by Congress, is a national holiday commemorating the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787, and recognizing all U.S. citizens. This year, 235 after the signing, Constitution Day presents the opportunity to not only recognize our history but also reflect on the current climate of our nation and the ways we have changed. Below is a list of facts and reflection questions to consider this Constitution Day.
- Since the 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. has grown immensely! Originally composed of 13 states along the Atlantic coast, the U.S. is now made up of 50 states spanning from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
- The U.S. population has also grown drastically since its founding. From 3.9 million in 1790, to over 331 million today! That is an increase of over 8,400 percent! With this growth, the U.S. population has also become increasingly diverse! With these facts in mind, how has diversity impacted or benefited your life?
- Did you know the U.S. Constitution is a living document? The framers of the U.S. Constitution wanted to ensure the longevity of our government and therefore included instructions on how the Constitution itself could be amended, or changed, if needed. Since its signing, the U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times!
- Passed in 1791, the first 10 amendments are collectively known as the Bill of Rights. These amendments include the freedom of speech and religion, protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to trial by jury. Later amendments, such as the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, and the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, ensured the protection of citizens’ rights.
- In addition to commemorating the signing of the U.S. Constitution, September 17 is recognized as Citizenship Day, a day for all Americans to reflect on what it means to be a U.S. citizen. As citizens, each American has protected rights and is obligated to fulfill certain duties, such as obeying the law and paying taxes. American citizens are also encouraged to partake in civic responsibilities, such as voting and being involved in their community. What does it mean to be an American citizen in your mind? What do you think it takes to be a good citizen?
The most recent amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed 30 years ago in 1992. Based on today’s culture/climate, do you think a new amendment should be considered? If so, what do you think the 28th amendment should address?
Want to know more? Explore the following resources to learn more about the U.S. Constitution!
Civics for All of US (National Archives) – Webinars on Constitutional Topics for Grades K–-12
The Constitution (The White House)
The Amendment Process (Truman Library)
How things have changed in Philadelphia since the 1787 convention (National Constitution Center)
This blog was guest written by two ALVS virtual teachers Cindy Andrade and Laura Johnson.
Cindy Andrade has been a teacher for over 10 years and has spent her career teaching social studies for both middle and high school students.
Laura Johnson has been in education for almost 40 years and teaches all subjects in history, including U.S. History, World History, and AP courses.