Open 2013 Constitution Day Exhibit Brochure
|Dr.Naomi Yavneh Klos at the Articles of Association, Declaration of Independence, and Articles of Confederation Case|
Every year, all educational institutions that accept federal funding are required by law to observe Constitution Day on September 17th, marking the day our Constitution was signed in 1787. “But our exhibit, “Reframing the US Constitution,” is much more than a check-off,” asserts Honors director Naomi Yavneh Klos, Ph.D.
Rather, the exhibit highlights the Constitution’s role as a living document – one that provides an over-arching structure and stability to our government, while allowing for flexibility and change. The Constitution was not our country’s first attempt to formulate a republican government, and so our exhibit includes copies of the Articles of Association, which authorized the Continental Congress in 1774 to implement a boycott of British goods, and the Articles of Confederation, the governing document of the flawed unicameral government that preceded our current tripartite system.
But the real focus is on the amendments. The framers truly envisioned the Constitution as dynamic – able to respond to the exigencies and beliefs of a nation that would grow and evolve over time. As such, constitutional amendments can serve as a powerful mechanism to effect social justice. The first concern was to create a Bill of Rights, including the democratic ideal that any right not specifically given to the federal government belonged not just to the states but to the people. Under Lincoln’s leadership and in the period just after the Civil War, the Constitution was amended to rid our country of the terrible shame of slavery, and then to ensure that those freed – or at least the male half of the population – were guaranteed the right to vote. In the presidential election of 1912, the three major candidates -- Taft, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson – all supported the amendment to implement a federal income tax then being debated by the state legislatures, while, at the end of World War I, the country was finally prepared to give women the right to vote, and also to impose prohibition in an attempt to curb alcohol-related violence against women and children. Later in the 20th century, during the Kennedy administration, a constitutional amendment prohibiting poll taxes furthered civil rights by helping limit obstacles to the right to vote established by previous amendments.
Resolved unanimously upon the question, Whereas, the delegates of all the colonies, from Nova-Scotia to Georgia, in Congress assembled, have unanimously chosen George Washington, Esq. to be General and commander in chief, of such forces as are, or shall be, raised for the maintenance and preservation of American liberty; this Congress doth now declare, that they will maintain and assist him, and adhere to him, the said George Washington, Esqr., with their lives and fortunes in the same cause.
|The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, signed in type "by order of Congress, John Hancock, President, Philadelphia July 6th 1775 " The final draft of the Declaration was written by John Dickinson, who incorporated language from an earlier draft by Thomas Jefferson naming the First United American Republic as the United Colonies of North America. This printing is from Great Britain's URBANUS, Sylvanus. The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. Volume XLV, London: D. Henry, August 1775|
|Stan Klos lecturing at the Republican National Convention's PoliticalFest 2000 Rebels With A Vision Exhibit in Philadelphia's Convention Hall|
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