- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
Constitution Day is observed each year on Sept. 17 to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.
Since 1955, the Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) have also commemorated Constitution Week Sept. 17-23.
On Tuesday, members of the local chapter of Carl Nieman Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) met at City Hall to witness the signing of a proclamation by Mayor Eddie Maggard declaring that Sept. 17-23 be observed as Constitution Week in Ava.
From City Hall, some of the members went to the Douglas County Public Library where a book, The Making of America by W. Cleon Skousen, was presented to librarian Anita Dodd for the library shelves, in memory of former DAR member Billie Sue McGill.
DAR member, historian and former school teacher Cinita Brown said The Making of America is “the best book on the Constitution that I have ever read.”
She encourages everyone to take time to read the book and learn more about their Constitution.
The Constitution Week minutes of 2010-11 proclaim that a primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government.
George Washington once said, “In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of our country?”
Constitution Week challenges us to learn about the history of the writing of the Constitution. The writing of the Constitution was difficult. The opposing ideas were eventually settled by compromise. One compromise was known as “The Great Compromise”, which was authored by Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman. The large states wanted representation based on population and the small states wanted equal representation so the compromise was to give Congress two houses. The House of Representatives has representation by population and the Senate has equal representation.
Constitution Week reflects on the different ideas of the time that the Constitution was being written and ratified. Groups of people wrote against the ideas of others and tried to persuade the people to come around to their way of thinking. Among the best known of these documents for ratification are The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. Richard Henry Lee wrote against ratification in the Lee’s Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican. These two opposing groups later became the foundation from which our two political parties formed, the Federalist and the Republicans.
During Constitution Week we learn of the difficulties in the process of getting the new Constitution ratified in the late 1700′s. The writers of the Constitution thought they would be able to get all the citizens to ratify it, but due to the difficulty of communicating and traveling it was decided to set up constitutional conventions and have delegates. It still was not until July 2, 1788 that the required 10 states had ratified and it went into effect on March 4, 1789. In 1790 all 13 states had accepted the Constitution as the highest law of the United States.
George Washington was elected the first President of the United States and during his terms many of the powers of the Constitution were exercised. President Washington’s term included the establishment of the First Bank of the United States, 10 amendments were added to the Constitution, Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee were added to the Union and the popular vote fell into two political parties, the Federalist and the Republicans.
Of the 42 delegates who attended most of the Constitutional Convention, 39 actually signed. Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia and Eldridge Gerry of Massachusetts refused to sign due in part to the lack of the Bill of Rights. Patrick Henry, an elected delegate, would not even attend the Constitutional Convention because he “smelt a rat.”
A proclamation issued by George Washington and a congressional resolution established the first national Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 26, 1789. The reason for the holiday was to give “thanks” for the new Constitution.
James Madison was responsible for proposing the resolution to create the various cabinet positions within the Executive Branch of our government and 12 amendments to the Constitution, of which 10 became the Bill of Rights. He also proposed that congressional pay be determined by the average price of wheat during the previous six years of a congressional session!
At the time of the ratification of the Constitution, the population of the United States was only 4 million. Today the population exceeds 300 million. From the time of its signing the Constitution has only changed 27 times which includes the first 10 amendments, known as the Bill of Rights. There are two ways to amend the Constitution, which are outlined in Article V. There has been more than 10,000 amendments proposed in Congress since 1789, but fewer than one percent have received enough support to go through the constitutional ratification process.