This year marks the 226th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. The Roosevelt Library has many more resources available for you to learn more about the Constitution and its impact on American History, including JSTOR and America: History & Life.
Constitution Day is proclaimed by the President every year to encourage citizens to reflect upon the many restrictions on the federal government that have allowed for a free citizenry to develop. Through the enumeration of certain powers, and their balancing among the three branches, free people are able to go about their business, to pursue their own happiness, in peace and security.
The Constitution sets the limits of our elected representatives’ scope of concern and the rules for their interaction amongst themselves, the several states, and foreign nations. The ultimate check on government is the power of the people to elect new representatives to office. In the original Constitution, only free males over 21 years old were able to vote. With the 15th Amendment of 1870, non-white men over 21 were given the franchise; with the 19th Amendment of 1920, suffrage was extended to women above the age of 21; and with the 26th Amendment of 1971, the voting age was lowered to 18 years of age.
Several individual rights are spelled out in the Constitution and its Amendments, including Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Religion, the Right to Peaceably Assemble, The Right to Petition for Redress of Grievances, the Right to Bear Arms, the Right to Trial by Jury, and Freedom from Unreasonable Searches & Seizures.
A few of the constitutionally-specified powers of the three branches include: power to make laws, to set up and maintain post offices, to punish counterfeiting of money, and to declare war (Legislative Branch); power to run the decennial census, to serve as Commander in Chief of the Army & Navy, and to grant pardons (Executive Branch); power to adjudicate all cases, in Law and Equity, arising under the Constitution & Laws of the U.S. (Judicial Branch).
5 Books about the Drafting and Ratification of the U.S. Constitution:
: the people debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 / Pauline Meier.
CHI KF4541 .M278 2010 ∙ Tells the dramatic story of the debate over the ratification of the Constitution.
framing of the Constitution of the United States / Max Farrand.
CHI KF4541 .F3 ∙ This 100 year old book is founded upon the records of the Federal convention which were edited by the author.
brilliant solution : inventing the American Constitution / Carol Berkin.
SCH E303 .B47 2003 ∙ The author makes you feel as if you were there, listening to the arguments, getting to know the framers, and appreciating the difficult and critical decisions being made.
Americans and the origins of the Constitution / Woody Holton.
CHI KF4541 .H58 2007 ∙ Argues that average Americans were the true framers of the Constitution.
patriots : the remarkable story of two men, their impossible plan, and the
revolution that created the Constitution
/ Charles Cerami.
SCH E303 .C38 2005 ∙ This is the remarkable story of a group of young visionaries, most in their early thirties, who, against all odds, created the most brilliant political document ever written: the United States Constitution.
Both campus libraries have Constitution Day displays, so please be sure to stop by the library and check them out!
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.