What Is Constitution Day?

September 17 is recognized in the United States as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. On this day, we commemorate the creation and signing of the supreme law of the land and celebrate the privileges and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship, be it for native-born or naturalized citizens.
Federal law requires that all schools receiving federal funds hold an educational program for their students on September 17 of each year.
The logo for Constitution EXPLAINED overlayed over a painting of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.

What is the Constitution EXPLAINED?

Learn about key aspects of the U.S. Constitution in everyday language. This series of 35 videos was created by the Center for Civic Education in partnership with iCivics and constitutional scholar Linda R. Monk, JD, to make our nation's founding document accessible to everyone.
The Constitution EXPLAINED was made possible by the generous support of Kenneth C. Griffin.

The Framers of the Constitution

Fifty-five delegates were present at the Constitutional Convention, which was held in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. Most students can identify George Washington, James Madison, and maybe even Alexander Hamilton. But what about the other fifty-two?

Primary Documents

There's no substitute for the original. When exploring the Constitution and the themes of citizenship and democracy, encourage students to dive into the primary documents from the Constitution to the writings of the Federalist to the many amendments.
PDF of the U.S. Constitution
The Constitution of the United States
PDF of the U.S. Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights
PDF of all Constitutional Amendments
All Amendments to the Constitution
PDF of Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation
PDF of Federalist 10
Federalist 10
PDF of Federalist 51
Federalist 51

The Constitution Over Time

From its drafting through ratification to its various amendments, the U.S. Constitution has changed along with our understanding of it. Below are a few of the key milestones in that history.
The Constitution is signed in Philadelphia
September 17, 1787
Delaware is the first state to ratify the Constitution
December 7, 1787
Constitution is ratified by the required 9 of 13 states
June 21, 1788
The first Congress meets under the new Constitution
March 4, 1789
Congress sends twelve amendments to the states for ratification
September 25, 1789
Rhode Island ratifies the Constitution, the last state to do so
May 29, 1790
Bill of Rights is adopted with Virginia’s ratification
December 15, 1791
11th Amendment ratified
February 7, 1795
12th Amendment ratified
June 15, 1804
13th Amendment ratified
December 6, 1865
14th Amendment ratified
July 9, 1868
15th Amendment ratified
February 3, 1870
16th Amendment ratified
February 3, 1913
17th Amendment ratified
April 8, 1913
18th Amendment ratified
January 16, 1919
19th Amendment ratified
August 18, 1920
20th Amendment ratified
January 23, 1933
21st Amendment ratified, repealing the 18th
December 5, 1933
22nd Amendment ratified
February 27, 1951
23rd Amendment ratified
March 29, 1961
24th Amendment ratified
January 23, 1964
25th Amendment ratified
February 10, 1967
26th Amendment ratified
July 1, 1971
27th Amendment ratified
May 7, 1992

CCE LogoThis site is brought to you by the Center for Civic Education. The Center's mission is to promote an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy. The Center has reached more than 30 million students and their teachers since 1965. Learn more.

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