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US Constitution Day on September 17 Celebrates Freedom and Helps Sort Election Campaign Issues

Updated on April 3, 2015

Boston Tea Party, A Riot - Gateway To A Revolution, and A US Constitution

America colonists dressed as Native Americans and dumped Britain's tea into Boston Harbor as a protest against British taxes. A Revolution and a Constitution would soon follow.
America colonists dressed as Native Americans and dumped Britain's tea into Boston Harbor as a protest against British taxes. A Revolution and a Constitution would soon follow. | Source

Taxes and Other Matters

Perhaps our most iconic riot during colonial days was the Boston Tea Party. We were fed up with unwarranted taxes - and still are fed up in the 2010s.

In the early 20th Century, Senior Citizens rioted against then- Boston Hospital in response to continuing high fees charged for healthcare. One hundred years later, America stood on the edge of a boiling national populace nearly ready to riot en masse for decent healthcare and reasonable prices. During the intervening American century, over 100 riots occurred in protest of many issues that ranged from war, racial prejudice, the draft, unemployment, disability funding cuts, women's rights, areas of corporate corruptness, even shortages of promised nylon stockings after WWII, and others.

How can the US Constitution help us with that? Constitutional Amendments have helped in the past and they may help in the future.

The year 2012 was interesting for America, a year celebrating a tumultuous Presidential Election as well as the beginning of the War of 1812 in which Britain threatened US Independence a second time. That country took 10,000 American prisoners to Dartmoor Depot prison until 1815, although few know about that today. In addition, 9/17/2012 is celebrated as the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Antietam and the Emancipation Proclamation.

On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time and signed the US Constitution. Many Americans feel that the Constitution still guides our nation and its contents should be consulted in choosing a new President, comparing his or her platform with the founding document. Others do not. For the views of the Constitution Party on these matters, see:

Home of the original US Constitution.
Home of the original US Constitution. | Source

Constitution in the National Archives


Constitution Day 1911

Constitution Day has been celebrated around different towns in America since 1911. However, the actual law that established the holiday was officially passed in 2004. It was created as an amendment by US Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus Spending Bill of that year. Before this date, the holiday was called "Citizenship Day" in many towns and cities. Schools and federal agencies provide education and related activities to the public on Constitution Day every year.

Constitution Day was first signed into law long before 2004, however.

Louisville, Ohio - also called Constitution Town - is located in Constitution Township in Stark County in NE Ohio. Olga T. Weber of that town asked the mayor and city council of her town to declare September 17 as Constitution Day and they apparently complied.

She next approached the State of Ohio and then- Governor Frank J. Lausche signed bill recognizing a state-wide holiday. Next, Olga went to the US Senate in late summer 1953. The US House and Senate both liked her idea for Constitution Week from September 17 - 23 each year and approved it; President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law. Ohio Historical Society markers at the town's four major gateway entrances proves that fact.

The holiday was not consistently celebrated until 2004 nationwide, when language requiring schools and federal agencies to provide public education that day was insisted upon by Senator Byrd. Constitution Town has many activities planned!

Constitution Town

Louisville OH:
Louisville, OH, USA

get directions

Largest American Riot: Civil War Draft Protest Riot Of 1863

Rioters attack a building on Lexington Avenue during the New York Draft Riot of 1863.
Rioters attack a building on Lexington Avenue during the New York Draft Riot of 1863. | Source

Constitutional Ammendments On Voting Rights

Amendment XV; Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870. Voting Rights.

Amendment XIX; Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920. Women's Voting Rights.

Amendment XXIV; Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964. Prohibition of Poll Taxes.

Amendment XXVI; Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified July 1, 1971. Voting age reduced from 21 to 18.

America has a long history of rioting in response to issues of voting and of discrimination and Constitutional Amendments have addressed some of those issues.

1917 Suffrage Riot Preceded Voting Rights Amendment

Suffragists picket White House for Voting Rights with a sign that started a riot in 1917.
Suffragists picket White House for Voting Rights with a sign that started a riot in 1917. | Source

1967 Detroit Riot - 2nd Only To the 1863 New York Draft Riot

Early on the morning of Sunday July 23, 1967, Detroit police officers raided an illegal after-hours bar at 12th Street west of Woodward Avenue. Governor George W. Romney called in the National Guard and State Police, but a period of 5 days of rioting and looting ensued that spread north and south several blocks around 12th Street.

The riot continued to spread through several blocks on the west side of Woodward Avenue and left hundreds of people dead. This historic riot is second (2nd) in scope and number of deaths among 100s in American History only to the 1863 NYC Draft Riot.

During the days of looting, not only what residents felt were necessities were taken, but also thousands of rifles and handguns. The situation became deadlier, while over 2,500 stores were looted and destroyed, arson became prolific, and several hundred families became homeless.

Deaths, Injuries, and Arrests at the 2nd Largest Riot In American History:

  • Deaths: 43 adults
  • Injuries: 467 adults that included 182 civilians and 285 in the Protective Services.
  • Arrests: Over 7,200 people ages 4 years to 82 years; over 700 children and youth.

Economic Impact from 1967 to 2012:

Quote: Before the ghetto riot of 1967, Detroit's black population had the highest rate of home-ownership of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment rate was just 3.4 percent. It was not despair that fueled the riot. It was the riot which marked the beginning of the decline of Detroit to its current state of despair. -- Thomas Sowell in Voting With Their Feet at; March 3, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2012.

Riot Area Boundaries Around 12th Street

12th Street, Detroit MI:
12th St, Detroit, MI, USA

get directions

Starting point of the riot.

Grand River Avenue, Detroit MI:
Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI, USA

get directions

Michigan Avenue Detroit MI:
Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI, USA

get directions

Southern boundary of the riot.

Grand Boulevard, Detroit MI:
E Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48211, USA

get directions

Belle Isle, Detroit MI:
Belle Isle, Detroit, MI, USA

get directions

Southernmost point.

Riots Have Led Up to Civil Rights Related Constitutional Amendments, Particularly Voting

This store in Washington, D.C., was destroyed during riots in response to the assassination of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.
This store in Washington, D.C., was destroyed during riots in response to the assassination of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. | Source
  • Instead of being handed down to us, the words of our Constitution make clear that the Constitution comes up from the people. The Constitution declares that the people of America call the nation into being. Thus those in government and those who elect governments here in America do well to remember that the Constitution came from people like you and me; from regular folk, thoughtful folk, people who had been to war, people who had toiled on the land, people who knew the needs of their neighbors, people with common sense, people determined to create a government like none other. -- The Honorable John Charles Thomas

Celebrations for Consitution Day

National Constitution Center

  • 2012 Liberty Medal Awarded to Muhammad Ali on September 13, 2012. See the website for free tickets:
  • Free Admission on September 17 for Constitution Day 2012 to celebrate the 225th Anniversary year. A temporary Exhibit of Presidential Artifacts is on display until the end of 2012, including President Clinton's saxophone and a diary of George Washington.
  • Throughout the year, several exhibits rotate, including major displays in history, fine arts, and music.

The National Constitution Center is located in Philadelphia two blocks from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. it is the nation's only museum devoted to the US Constitution and the story of We, the People.

Location North of the Liberty Bell

National Constitution Center:
National Constitution Center, Independence National Historical Park, 525 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 1

get directions

© 2012 Patty Inglish MS


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