Come stop by the SAR Headquarters and Library and receive your FREE pocket-sized Constitution booklet!
The SAR has a fresh new window display in front of the Genealogical Research Library to entice members and passers-by! It explains some of the context of the U.S. Constitution's creation and the SAR's early involvement in celebrating and recognizing September 17 as a holiday. The text for the display is below.
Furthermore, in recognition of Constitution Day this year, the SAR would like to provide educators, SAR members, and other interested visitors with a few valuable resources related to the U.S. Constitution and their Constitution Day studies. Also teachers, please visit the SAR Headquarters to receive your FREE Constitution Day Lesson Plan packet! We've put together the following reputable external links for Constitutional materials; the SAR Outreach Education program has already used some of these proven resources to help SAR members with their Constitution Day activities.
Scholastic Books has provided a lesson plan entitled "Creating a Classroom Constitution" which prompts students to create an actual Constitution within the classroom to help solidify rules and decision-making. While we can't say that it will actually maintain order and fairness in the classroom, it is certainly worth a try and students will learn key issues in the process.
Constitution Facts has a number of great resources for students, teachers, and advisors. For elementary school levels, the U.S. history or social studies teacher might consider helping his or her students enter the "Poster Design Contest" by the deadline of October 1, 2016. Visitors can download the entry form and also see some of the past winners. Once the posters are completed, these visual resources are great for display boards and exhibitions in the school's library or entrance. The posters proclaim, "We know that Constitution Day is September 17th...Do you?"
Bill of Rights Institute's "America's Founders Gallery":
The Bill of Rights Institute offers interactive material that elementary students will enjoy, with photographs of the Constitutional signers who framed the U.S.' republican form of government. Within 24 of these portraits, users can click through and find out more about each historical figure. The Bill of Rights Institute website also provides content which makes for a great Constitution Bingo template for classrooms and meetings.
Some very powerful exercises for students of all ages can be found through BrightHub Education's "6 Ideas for Celebrating Constitution Day in Grade School Social Studies". Have students write about happiness and freedom or make a list of the rights and freedoms that they have as American citizens. Some students might not even know that they exercise some of these freedoms on a daily basis. But especially, celebrate the day!
Smore.com's Virtual Tours:
Smore.com has a fantastic comprehensive resource list of meaningful Constitution Day events and online activities gathered from across the Internet. The site also links up with Discovery Education's virtual event and tour of the National Constitution Center, which has been archived from its 2015 celebration and is now available online.
With all of the above resources, external links, and other educational media promoting this national holiday, students and educators will certainly have the necessary avenues to delve into the history and significance of Constitution Day in the United States.
Exhibit Display Text
“In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example… of charters of power granted by liberty.”
- James Madison, 1792
In the summer of 1787, delegates from twelve states met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in order to replace the Articles of Confederation with a new form of government. The Constitution, largely written by James Madison, created a federal system of national government composed of three separate powers: the Legislative (Congress), the Executive (the President), and the Judicial (Supreme Court). Key principles of the Constitution included checks and balances, individual rights, liberty, limited government, natural rights theory, republican government, and popular sovereignty.
In September of 1787, the Constitution was sent to the states for ratification (approval), but not every state was ready to ratify the document as it stood. Those who argued in favor of the Constitution were called Federalists; those who argued against it were called Anti-Federalists. Many states suggested that amendments be added in order to protect individual rights from restrictions by the federal government. James Madison promised that these amendments, later known as the Bill of Rights, would be added after ratification.
On the 17th day of September, 1787, the final draft of the Constitution was agreed upon and signed by all delegates in attendance. The Constitution became effective after ratification by New York in 1788, and the government began operating under the new system.
In 1917, the SAR helped to nationally promote this important date in history. Influential SAR members including (future U.S. President) Calvin Coolidge, businessman John D. Rockefeller, and General John Pershing, were a part of this patriotic effort. Constitution Day had many names throughout its ensuing campaigns: in 1940, the U.S. Congress designated the third Sunday in May as “I am an American Day.” Today, American citizens all over the world recognize the importance of the Constitution and celebrate this holiday with community parades, speeches, and civic programs.