The signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, by delegates to the Constitutional Convention established America’s national government and fundamental laws. At the 1787 convention delegates formulated a plan for a stronger government establishing three branches – Legislative, Executive, and Judicial – along with a system of checks and balances ensuring no single branch would have too much power.
It wasn’t until 2004 that the holiday took on the full name it bears today. In 2004, a law was enacted renaming the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” (36 U.S.C. 106) requiring public schools and institutions to provide information on the history of the country’s Constitution.
The Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence, Pocket Edition (cover right), also includes an index and is printed under the direction of the Joint Committee on Printing. This 26th edition was published in 2019 as Senate Document 116-3. Purchase your own copy for only $2.00 from GPO's U.S. Government Bookstore
The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, popularly known as the Constitution Annotated, encompasses the U.S. Constitution and analysis and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution with in-text annotations of cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Constitution Annotated is available on govinfo back to the 1992 edition.
U.S. Constitution Facts and Figures:
- Although written and signed in 1787, it wasn’t until June 21, 1788, that it was ratified by the necessary nine of thirteen states to become binding.
- There were 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, although only 39 signed the document.
- Twelve of the 13 states were represented; Rhode Island did not send delegates to the Convention.
- Benjamin Franklin, 81, was the oldest delegate to the Constitutional Convention; Jonathan Dayton, 26, was the youngest. (Source: Ben's Guide, A Guide to the U.S. Government, a service of the Government Publishing Office (GPO), designed to inform students, parents, and educators about the Federal Government, which issues the publications and information products disseminated by the GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program.)
- Read GPO's Government Book Talk blog "Constitution Day September 17th."
- Browse the Constitution Annotated on the Congress.gov website which provides a comprehensive overview of how the Constitution has been interpreted over time.
- Learn more about Observing Constitution Day on the National Archives' website.
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website highlights resources for learners and educators related this this important day, including materials to prepare for the naturalization process.