The National Archives Celebrates the 226th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution September 17
Press Release · Friday, September 13, 2013

With Free Family Activities, Lectures and a Panel Discussion on The State of the Constitution: What Americans Really Know

On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, at 7:30 p.m., the National Archives celebrates the 226th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution (September 17 is Constitution Day), with a free panel discussion titled The State of the Constitution: What Americans Really Know. Related author lectures will be offered at noon on September 16 and 19.

These programs will be webcast live (and immediately archived) on the National Archives UStream channel [].

The programs are free and open to the public, and will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW. Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.

Tuesday, September 17, at 7:30 p.m.
The State of then Constitution: What Americans Really Know

Presented by the National Archives, in partnership with the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier, The State of the Constitution: What Americans Really Know will feature real-time audience polling as we explore common perceptions (and misconceptions) of U.S. constitutional law. The evening will feature a panel with Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale College and Yale Law School; Amy Klobuchar, senior United States Senator from Minnesota; and Edwin Meese III, attorney, law professor, and author.

The National Archives has the original U.S. Constitution on permanent display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom of the National Archives Building. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., daily.

Related Public Programs/Family Activities

September 17, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Constitution Day Family Activities
in the Boeing Learning Center at the National Archives. Activities are free and open to all visitors.

  • Draft your own amendment to the Constitution
  • Play games and learn more about the Framers
  • Design your own American flag
  • Discover the rules for adding more states to the Union
  • Write with a quill pen, just like they did in 1789

These programs will be held at noon in the William G. McGowan Theater, followed by book signings.

Monday, September 16
American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution

Despite the time spent debating what the Constitution means, few people actually read it. To read the Constitution is to realize that it has no clear, definite, single meaning. Some ideas in the document are contradictory; some are profound; some are repulsive; and some parts don't fit together at all. Law professor Garrett Epps discusses his book American Epic and provides a way for us to listen to the language of the Constitution and ponder its meaning. A book signing will follow the program.

Thursday, September 19
The Original Compromise: What the Constitution's Framers Were Really Thinking

Despite the many changes in America since its founding, one important document has endured. The Constitution, adopted in 1787, continues to dictate the government's structure and guarantee the rights of citizens. In The Original Compromise, David Robertson unravels the highly political dynamics that shaped the document that politicians continue to debate today. A book signing follows the program.

Educational Resources

For information on resources for teaching about the Constitution, visit:

The National Archives offers several opportunities for learning about the Constitution online or on your mobile device:

  • On the special DocsTeach Constitution Day page [], educators can locate primary sources from the holdings of the National Archives that document the creation and structure of our government. DocsTeach is an online teaching tool that helps educators to find and create interactive learning activities. Visitors will find primary sources related to such topics as "checks and balances," "representative government," and other concepts found in the Constitution. The DocsTeach Constitution Day page also features activities to share with students, such as "The Constitution at Work," which uses primary sources to demonstrate the Constitution in action in our everyday lives.
  • You can learn about the Constitution through documents in the holdings of the National Archives on iTunes. A special Constitution iBook for iPad and other resources is available from the National Archives on iTunes U and in the iBookstore. To access these resources from your computer or Android device, see "Teaching & Learning Resources" on [].

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and online at

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.

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This page was last reviewed on February 8, 2019.
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