CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – September 17th is Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, which honors the adoption of the United States Constitution and who recently became U.S. citizens.

Members of the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution back in 1787 on this day, according to the National Day Calander. Many people contributed to creating the document, but James Madison wrote the draft, which formed the basis for the Constitution.

Those who participated in the development of the document gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1787, and George Washington presided over the Convention. Many of the “Founding Fathers” attended to other diplomatic duties and were unable to participate in the signing.

Thomas Jefferson, which is the author of the Declaration of Independence, served overseas on behalf of his country, John Adams also served abroad, and Patrick Henry refused to attend due to principle and preferring the Articles of Confederation, but he was eventually swayed by Henry when convention leaders added a Bill of Rights. Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and George Washington all signed the Constitution.

Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7th, 1787. Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the Constitution on May 29, 1790.

This holiday dates back to 1911 when schools in Iowa first recognized Constitution Day. In 1917, the Sons of the American Revolution formed a committee to promote Constitution Day, and members of that committee included Calvin Coolidge, John D. Rockefeller, and General John Pershing.

In 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt declared “I am an American Day,” and Congress designated the third Sunday in May to celebrate it. Then by 1949, the governors of all 48 states had issued Constitution Day proclamations.  On February 29, 1952, Congress changed the name from “I am an American Day” to “Citizenship Day” and was moved to September 17.  In 2004, the day was renamed Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

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