Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Banner Image

Constitution Day

Learn more about the Constitution

CORRESPONDENCE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF SEVEN MAJOR SHAPERS OF THE UNITED STATES:

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. Over 184,000 searchable documents, fully annotated, from the authoritative Founding Fathers Papers projects.

Founders Online

 

Library of Congress American Memory Project

Beginning with the Continental Congress in 1774, America's national legislative bodies have kept records of their proceedings. The records of the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and the United States Congress make up a rich documentary history of the construction of the nation and the development of the federal government and its role in the national life. These documents record American history in the words of those who built our government.

Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention
 
Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789
Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789
Elliot's Debates, 1787-1788
Farrand's Records, 1787


Books on the law formed a major part of the holdings of the Library of Congress from its beginning. In 1832, Congress established the Law Library of Congress as a separate department of the Library. It houses one of the most complete collections of U.S. Congressional documents in their original format. In order to make these records more easily accessible to students, scholars, and interested citizens, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation brings together online the records and acts of Congress from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention through the 43rd Congress, including the first three volumes of the Congressional Record, 1873-75.

1774-1789: The Struggle for Independence

Century of Lawmaking Timeline

The colonies join forces in the Continental Congress, secure their independence, and agree to establish a new form of government. The Constitutional Convention draws up the blueprint for a new nation. This story of the birth of a new nation is told in the thirty-four volumes of the Journals of the Continental Congress, the essays of The Federalist Papers, and in the personal correspondence reproduced in the Letters of the Delegates to Congress. Accounts of the Constitutional Convention such as The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 and The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution relay the debates and decisions of the Founding Fathers as they construct a structure for the federal government.

 

 

September 17th is Constitution Day, commemorating the day in 1787 when, at the end of a long hot summer of discussion, debate and deliberation, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed America’s most important document. George Washington, on behalf of the Convention, transmitted the proposed Constitution to the Congress assembled under the Articles of Confederation. Eleven days later, the Congress by unanimous resolution passed the proposal on to conventions of delegates to be chosen in each state. It was in these state conventions that the Constitution was thoroughly discussed, debated and eventually ratified.

The United States Constitution is the oldest written national constitution still in operation, and many of the nations that have established themselves in the centuries since have turned to this document as a model for their own constitutions. As a document that defines the structure of our federal government and delineates the rights of the states within the union, and of individual citizens within the nation, the Constitution has become a symbol to Americans and to the world of our political principles and the democratic way of life that flows from them.

Commemorating Constitution Day - NEH

On February 29, 1952, Congress designated September 17 as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. This day commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787, and recognizes all American citizens.

The framers of the Constitution of the United States chose the population to be the basis for sharing political power, not wealth or land. Thus, they included a mandatory count of the population every 10 years (decennial census) in the Constitution. 

Census Constitution Day Page