Constitution Day, which is Sept. 17, kicks off Constitution Week, celebrated annually Sept. 17-23 to commemorate America’s most important document.
The Daughters of the American Revolution started this celebration of the Constitution in 1955 by petitioning Congress to set aside Sept. 17-23 each year for Constitution Week. The resolution was later adopted by the U.S. Congress and signed into public law on Aug. 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Six years after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, which established the first national government, a majority of delegates to Congress agreed that the Articles needed significant revisions. On Feb. 21, 1787, Congress resolved that “a convention of delegates . . . appointed by the several states be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.”
The delegates, who met in what was later called the Constitutional Convention, soon realized that changing the Articles would not be enough to fix the issues facing the new United States. Consequently, they began the work of replacing the Articles with a new Constitution.
Prominent figures in the Constitution’s drafting include Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, who is often referred to as the Father of the Constitution.
The new constitution was written and read during the Philadelphia Convention, which took place from May 25-Sept. 17, 1787. The Constitution was signed on Sept. 17, 1787, in the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House. It did not go into effect until nine states ratified it.
The Delaware Legislature became the first to ratify the Constitution by a vote of 30-0 on Dec. 7, 1787. The ninth state, New Hampshire, ratified it on June 21, 1788, and the new Constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789.
Here is the order in which the states ratified the U.S. Constitution:
1. Delaware, Dec. 7, 1787
2. Pennsylvania, Dec. 12, 1787
3. New Jersey, Dec. 18, 1787
4. Georgia, Jan. 2, 1788
5. Connecticut, Jan. 9, 1788
6. Massachusetts, Feb. 6, 1788
7. Maryland, April 28, 1788
8. South Carolina, May 23, 1788
9. New Hampshire, June 21, 1788
10. Virginia, June 25, 1788
11. New York, July 26, 1788
12. North Carolina, Nov. 21, 1789
13. Rhode Island, May 29, 1790