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.
With these words, written more than 200 years ago, our Forefathers laid the foundation for a great Nation, adopting a Constitution that has since proven to be a bold and enduring guide for American government. The Constitution’s powerful framework for establishing and preserving liberty, justice, and opportunity has enabled us to prosper as a Nation and thrive as a people through more than two centuries of political change, social transformation, and economic challenge.
Years ago the United States Congress designated September 17 as Constitution Day and President George W. Bush later declared the week of September 17-23 as Constitution Week.
Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by thirty-nine brave men on September 17, 1787. Constitution Week and Constitution Day is a time to commemorate the sacrifices they made for our freedom and for creating an environment for American Exceptionalism.
Below are a few significant dates before and after the historic signing of our Constitution:
July 4, 1776
The Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson, is adopted by the Second Continental Congress. That adoption was a unanimous Declaration of all thirteen colonies signed by 56 different men.
September 3, 1783
The Treaty of Paris is signed formally ending the American Revolutionary War. Great Britain recognizes the independence of the colonists.
May 25, 1787
The First Constitutional Convention begins in Philadelphia to discuss revising the Articles of Confederation.
September 17, 1787
All 12 of the state delegations approve the Constitution. Rhode Island is the only state without a delegation. The document is signed by 39 of the 42 delegates present. The Convention requires nine of those 12 states represented to ratify the Constitution.
June 21, 1788
New Hampshire becomes the 9th state to ratify the Constitution. The Constitution becomes effective for those ratifying states. A date is set for Electors appointed by the States to assemble and select the first President.
March 4, 1789
The first Congress under the new Constitution convenes in New York City. (Note: Washington, D.C is not yet the capital.)
April 30, 1789
George Washington is inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America.
June 8, 1789
James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, introduces a proposed Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives.
September 25, 1789
Congress approves 12 amendments and sends these proposed amendments to the state legislatures for ratification.
Virginia ratifies ten of the 12 proposed amendments. The two amendments having to do with Congressional Representation and Congressional pay are not adopted. Those ten adopted amendments become the Bill of Rights.
Learn more at the Bill of Rights Institute HERE.