For more than 200 years the American public has struggled to comprehend the full meaning of the United States Constitution. As of today, September 17, 2014, there’s an app for that – also an e-book! And they’re both free.
The 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention who signed the document on September 17, 1787, would undoubtedly rejoice as on Constitution Day (aka Citizenship Day) 2014 the Constitution and its advocates march proudly into the information age – app in hand.
The Center for Legislative Archives, home of the official records of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, has created Congress Creates the Bill a Rights, a free mobile app and eBook available for download on iPad at the App Store. The ebook is available for download on the National Archives website and in iTunes and the iBookstore for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
As we learned in Social Studies class the path to ratification of the Constitution was not fast track. You can retrace the state-by-state ratification process here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_drafting_and_ratification_of_the_United_States_Constitution
Constitution Day dates back to 1939 and the reign of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst who proposed the holiday to be known as “I am an American Day.” The holiday was first celebrated on the third Sunday in May, 1940, a day with special focus on new Americans. The US Immigration and Naturalization Service supported and promoted the holiday so that by 1944 the Hearst-sponsored 16 minute film by that name went viral. By the end of the decade the governors of all 48 states had proclaimed the national holiday.
The name change can be credited to Olga T. Weber, a Louisville, Ohio, resident who petitioned the leaders of her city to change the date to correspond with the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. In 1953 President Eisenhower signed the law declaring Citizenship Day to be celebrated on September 17.
In more recent times Louise Leigh, an enthusiastic student of the Constitution, founded a nonprofit organization called Constitution Day, Inc. to encourage recognition of the national holiday. The combined Constitution/Citizenship Day was inaugurated in 2004 with the support of Senator Robert Byrd of Virginia who attached a supportive rider to an Omnibus Spending bill.
One condition of the law was that, on September 17 each year, the head of every federal agency will provide each employee with educational materials concerning the Constitution and that each education institution that receives federal funds will hold a program for students on Constitution Day.
With thanks to the founding fathers, to these committed Constitutionalists and the U.S. Congress, Happy Constitution Day to every American citizen, particularly the newest citizens of the Land of the Free.