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Constitution Week 2020

Constitution Week commemorates United States' most important document: The U.S. Constitution. It is celebrated annually during the week of September 17-23. Officially enacted on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower from a congressional resolution petitioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution, it was George W. Bush who officially declared the inception of Constitution Week in September 2002. [Source: Wikipedia].

The purpose of the observance week is to promote study and education about the United States Constitution which was originally adopted by the Confederation Congress on September 17, 1787.


Imag of the Fedealist advertisement 1787

In October 1787, the first in a series of 85 essays arguing for ratification of the proposed U.S. Constitution appeared in the Independent Journal, under the pseudonym “Publius.”

Addressed to “the People of the State of New York,” the essays - now known as the Federalist Papers - were actually written by the statesmen Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, leading supporters of the Constitution and the strong national government it created.

They would be published serially from 1787-1788 in several New York newspapers.





We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The U.S. Constitution acted like a colossal merger, uniting a group of states with different interests, laws, and cultures. Under America’s first national  government, the Articles of Confederation, the states acted together only for specific purposes.

The Constitution united its citizens as members of a whole, vesting the power of the union in the people. Without it, the "American Experiment" might have ended as quickly as it had begun.

Read A Transcript Here

(Source: National Archives)



Founding Documents - The Bill of Rights

On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution. The 1789 Joint Resolution of Congress proposing the amendments is on display in the Rotunda in the National Archives Museum. Ten of the proposed 12 amendments were ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures on December 15, 1791. The ratified Articles (Articles 3–12) constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, or the U.S. Bill of Rights.

In 1992, 203 years after it was proposed, Article 2 was ratified as the 27th Amendment to the Constitution. This Amendment prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for representatives.

Article 1, which establishes the legislative branch of the federal government: the United States Congress, was never ratified.

In fact, the Constitution might never have been ratified at all if the framers hadn't promised to add a Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution gave citizens more confidence in the new government and contain many of Americans' most valued freedoms.


Read A Transcript Here

(Source: National Archives)




The New Jersey Convention was held in December 1787, and ratified the Federal Constitution on December 18th. New Jersey is called the "3rd State" because it was the third state to sign the Constitution.

(Source: New Jersey State Archives)

Following the unanimous approval of the Federal Constitution by New Jersey's ratification convention on December 18, 1787, the delegates directed their secretary to write the ratification on parchment for signature.

Two copies were ordered: "one for the Congress of the United States, and the other to be deposited among the Archives of the State."

The four-page manuscript ratification contains the full text of the Constitution, the form of ratification, the original signatures of the thirty-eight delegates present, and convention secretary Samuel W. Stockton's attestation.


New Jersey Signers of the Federal Constitution

Jonathan Dayton
3rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, was the youngest person to sign.
William Livingston
was the first Governor of New Jersey (1776 to 1790).
William Paterson
was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
David Brearley
was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

(Source: Wikipedia pages for Dayton, Livingston, Paterson, and Brearley)

Back then, Union County did not exist; the area was still part of Essex County. The three signers from Essex County were:

John Chetwood (1736-1807)

The Honorable John Chetwood was a member of the Committee of Correspondence and of the Provincial Congress. A Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, Chetwood was born April 24 1736 - a son of Philip Chetwood of Salem, New Jersey. Orphaned as a child, he came to Elizabethtown (Elizabeth, NJ). He married Mary Emott, granddaughter of James Emott who came to Boston in 1678 from Lancashire, England. Mary's mother was a Boudinot. Chetwood died in Elizabeth in 1897.


(Sources: NJ State Archive, Findagrave, Werelate)

Samuel Hay (1739-1803)

Samuel Hay was born in Scotland in 1739. He died on November 27, 1803, and is buried at the First Presbyterian Churchyard Memorial Garden in Newark, NJ.

(Source: Findagrave)

David Crane

(Source: Teaching American


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