History of Constitution Week

The United States Constitution

On September 17, 1787 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the United States Constitution. This sacred and important document established our national government and fundamental laws, and has protected and guaranteed certain basic rights to citizens of these great United States.

On the closing day of the convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin said, “I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such, because I think a central government is necessary for us… I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution.”

America’s Forgotten Holiday

On February 29, 1952, the US Congress designated September 17 as “Citizenship Day.” (36 U.S.C. 106) On August 2, 1956, Congress requested that the President of the United States proclaim the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 of each year as “Constitution Week.” (36 U.S.C. 108)

Gilbert Constitution Week

In 2002, John Lewis, then President of the Gilbert, Arizona Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asked Bill Norton and Barb Stowell to consider a way to celebrate Constitution Week within the Gilbert, Arizona Stake. The resulting event also included a memorial to the September 11, 2001 attacks, a Constitution Week Fair, a Tribute to the Founder event, and a Family Lesson.

The first event succeeded not only in educating Gilbert children about the US Constitution, but also by motivating Bill and Barb to bring this great forgotten American holiday out of the shadows.

In 2003, the Constitution Week celebration added the Family Home Evening lesson and an expanded Saturday evening Fair. Distinguished characters from the Colonial Era visited approximately 40,000 students within the Town of Gilbert. 2004 brought continued expansion to the celebration by adding a Scout Night where hundreds of Gilbert Boy Scouts worked on Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge.

Constitution Week USA

The Constitution Week Fair has continued to grow and be the highlight of the week-long celebration. At the Fair, replicas of the White House, Capital, Supreme Court Building, Washington Monument, and Independence Hall are displayed. Children and youth participate through performances and activities.

Over the years, the Constitution Fair has included performances by Lee Greenwood, David Archuleta, Michael Israel, Alex Boye, David Osmond, and even a naturalization ceremony officiated by Sandra Day O’Connor.

Thanks to the citizens and families of Gilbert, as well as our generous sponsors, Constitution Week has become the largest celebration of the US Constitution in America. We look forward to many more years of celebrating the principles of liberty of the US Constitution.