Celebrate Constitution Day

Celebrate Constitution Day
Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven. All rights reserved.

America's Constitution Day, also Citizenship Day, is a federal recognition of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.  Interestingly enough the day was established as part of the Omnibus (pork filled) spending bill of congress in 2004.  Another interesting bit of trivia:  Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, and former Ku Klux Klan member, added the amendent to the spending bill.  The bill requires schools and other institutions receiving federal funds to recognize the day, not with time off, rather with constitutional lessons and activities.   

During the the 1600s and 1700s Europeans were ruled by kings and queens.  Several of these rulers believed, or at least stated, they ruled with divine right with authority from God.  For example, King Louis XIV (14th) of France portrayed himself as the whole government. Louis declared, “L’├ętat, c’est moi!”or “I am the state.”  Also during this time the British government created new taxes in the colonies to raise funds.  The British did not have to pay these taxes, only those in the New World.  Thus conflict increased between the government and colonialists.  

The ideas of the Enlightenment and Reformation were well known, especially to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.  In 1766 Benjamin Franklin went to London to speak to officials in parliament, this is the origins of his famous “taxation without representation” line.  A decade after signing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson and the Commonwealth of Virginia's General Assembly passed his Act for Establishing Religious Freedom.  "Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." (Thomas Jefferson's 1786 Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom.)  

It became law because Baptists, ordinary farmers, and everyday shopkeepers, tavern owners, blacksmiths, and housewives who had a vision of the role of religion in society, as scholar Daniel Dreisbach observed, it would "allow every religious sect and denomination to compete in the marketplace of ideas."  Civil War resulted over religious freedom and taxes.  One of the most famous figurs in the American Revolution was George Washington.  His leadership and inspiration helped the colonial army win against British forces. 

The American Revolution and U.S. Constitution promoted organized and lawful rebellion, as opposed to the savagery of mobs in the French Revolution.  The Constitution also ended divine right by monarchs in America, proclaiming divine right of the people to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" (Preamble, U.S. Constitution).

See Hillsdale College Free Webcast Constitution Series

"Included in what we will discuss is:  What the framers of the Constitution understood about the document they were writing, especially its fundamental principles true of human beings at all times and in all places;  Why the fundamental features of the American Constitution are representation and separation of powers;  Why the key to a republican form of government is the vibrancy, size and independence of this private society.

This program will serve as the basis for future educational programs on Constitution and related topics, including a more complete Online Constitution Class, of which this series will serve as a basis. We will be asking for your participation and feedback along the way to help us improve our efforts." 

"Introduction to the Constitution"
Webcast series with Dr. Larry Arnn

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