September 17, 1787
U.S. Constitution Signed
Today honors America’s founding document – the world’s longest surviving written government charter.
“It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be preserved …”
George Washington submitting the final draft of the Constitution to the Continental Congress, Sept. 17, 1787. He highlighted the challenge of bringing states together with different "habits, and particular interests," but credited "mutual deference and concession," and the spirit of friendship for the final product.
Who: 55 delegates attended the Convention, but only 39 signed.
When: Written during four-month Convention (May 25 – Sept 17, 1787).
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Why: Created “a new form of government” ~ divided power between the states with a federal government with executive, judicial, & legislative branches (Library of Congress).
WHAT IS CELEBRATED
1940: Congress designated “I Am An American Day” as the 3rd Sunday in May to honor new citizens.
1952: Congress moved the date to Sept. 17th, naming it “Citizenship Day.”
2004: Congress designated Sept. 17th *BOTH* “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day” to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”
DID YOU KNOW?
The first ten amendments of the Constitution are known as the the Bill of Rights.
The Constitution has been amended 27 times – most recently in 1992, adding one of the original amendments that didn’t make the cut in 1791 regarding federal lawmaker pay.
Only one amendment has been repealed. In 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, putting an end to Prohibition.
THE NEXT AMENDMENT? In 2023, the Senate held a hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment – the first in the Senate in since 1984. The amendment, passed by Congress in 1972, would have made gender equality a fundamental right, but ultimately, it has not been added to the Constitution. See our source page to learn more.
Library of Congress, Today in History: U.S. Constitution
Here’s one of the most famous paintings in the U.S. Capitol that portrays September 17th, 1787 and the major players, including George Washington
"Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote:" The WWII Roots of the 26th Amendment (which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18)
by Jenna Lee,