Constitution Day

The United States Government has designated Sept. 17 as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, by delegates at the Philadelphia Convention.

In December 2004, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, offered an amendment to H.R. 4818, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Omnibus Spending Bill) for 2005 as an attempt to correct what he saw as a lack of knowledge about the Constitution among America’s students. It was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

On May 24, 2005, the U.S. Department of Education released a Notice of Implementation, announcing that all educational institutions receiving federal funding must provide an educational program pertaining to the Constitution.

Constitution Day Commemoration 2012 was celebrated with the reading of the Constitution on the steps of Frost Library.

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Members of the faculty, administration, staff and students read aloud the Constitution of the United States, together with the Bill of Rights and all of the amendments. Many people volunteered to read, including President Biddy Martin; Deans Gregory Call and Charri Boykin-East; Professors Frank Couvares, Martha Saxton and Kevin Sweeney; Marian Kent from Advancement; Peter Nelson and Mike Kelly from Archives and Special Collections; Philip Chapman-Bell from Human Resources; Jan Jourdain and Jane Beebe from the Frost Library; Patricia Allen from Public Affairs; Amy Ford from Women’s and Gender Studies; and Christian Aviles ’14E, Zach Bleemer ’14, Matthew deButts ’14 and Gianna Marciarille ’15. All of the readers signed the poster titled “We the People.” The poster will be kept in Archives and Special Collections. 

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections has a small display of materials on view on the first floor of Frost Library, including a first edition of The Federalist (1788) and original manuscripts by the Founding Fathers.

See a complete transcript of the Constitution, plus high-resolution images of the document, in the “Charters of Freedom” exhibition at


How much do you know about the Constitution?
Read the Constitution Q & A at