Constitution Day Exhibit

US Constitution and Citizenship Day Exhibit
 Reframing the US Constitution 
 To Form A More Perfect Union

Open 2013 Constitution Day Exhibit Brochure

Dr.Naomi Yavneh Klos at the Articles of Association, Declaration of Independence, and Articles of Confederation Case
Just in time for U.S. Constitution Day (September 17th), the Loyola University New Orleans Honors Program is displaying authentic printings of the Articles of Association (Circa November 1774) Articles of Confederation (Circa December 1777), US Constitution of 1787 (Circa November 1787), and the 27 US Constitutional Amendments (Circa 1789-1992).  Also included in the exhibit are original letters, documents, and manuscripts from the US Constitution of 1787 delegates, including Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Robert Morris, Thomas Mifflin, George Washington and numerous US Constitutional Amendment framers. “Reframing the Constitution: to Form A More Perfect Union,” is a free and public exhibit, which offers a look at more than 35 rare, historical documents from the 1787 to 1992 framing periods of the ever evolving US Constitution of 1787.

The exhibit will open Friday, Sept. 13 and run through Monday, Sept. 30 on the  first floor of Loyola’s J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library, which is ranked No. 19 among best college libraries in the nation by The Princeton Review. The exhibit also provides the opportunity for area school children to view documents that bring the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights to life.

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.

The Loyola University Honors Program’s exhibit highlights our Constitutional Amendments as living, ongoing examples of democracy at work.  Our university strives to educate our students to be men and women for and with others.  These documents remind each of us of our individual and collective power to effect social change.

After providing a brief account of the first three failed American United Republics,   Reframing the Constitution to Form A More Perfect Union displays 35 period letters, documents, manuscripts, newspapers, broadsides, and printings that illuminate the US Constitution of 1787’s birth and its evolution through the amendment  process that began with the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791, resulting in 27 constitutional changes, with the last being ratified on May 7th, 1992  

United Colonies of North America

The First United American Republic: The United Colonies of America: Thirteen British Colonies United in Congress was founded by 12 colonies (Georgia did not send delegates) on September 5th, 1774 and expired on July 2nd, 1776 with the enactment of the Resolution for Independency

The colonies had individually passed 12 different resolutions naming the Philadelphia  gathering and its membership in various different forms:

New Hampshire  … General Congress; Massachusetts  … meeting of Committees from the several Colonies; Rhode Island  … general congress of representatives; Connecticut  … Congress of commissioners; New York … Congress at Philadelphia ; New Jersey  … general Congress of deputies; Pennsylvania … Colony Committees; Maryland  … General Congress of deputies from the Colonies; Virginia  … General Congress; South Carolina … deputies to a general Congress; Delaware  … general continental congress; North Carolina  … general Congress.

It would be Delaware ’s term, a Continental Congress   that was formally adopted on October 20, 1774, by a resolution known as the Articles of Association  that implemented a British trade boycott. The naming of the colonial congress, as exhibited, in the Articles of Association can be found in the resolution’s first paragraph:

We, his majesty's most loyal subjects, the delegates of the several colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts -Bay, Rhode-Island, Connecticut , New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania , the three lower counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware , Maryland , Virginia , North-Carolina, and South-Carolina, deputed to represent them in a Continental Congress , held in the city of Philadelphia , on the 5th day of September, 1774.

The name was primarily chosen to distinguish this congress from the many other congresses being held throughout the Colonies at that time.   

The Articles of Associated are exhibited in this rare colonial printing:

“Extracts From The Votes And Proceedings Of The American Continental Congress, Held At Philadelphia, On The 5th Of September, 1774 Containing The Bill Of Rights, A List Of Grievances, Occasional Resolves, The Association, An Address To The People Of Great-Britain, And A Memorial To The Inhabitants Of The British American ColoniesPublished By Order Of The Congress. Philadelphia: 1774

The following year, the Colonial Continental Congress passed the following resolution, on June 17th, 1775, appointing Colonel George Washington as Commander-In-Chief and General of the Continental Army:

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. 
This was followed with a very important resolution, also exhibited,  that  explained why the Thirteen Colonies had taken up arms in what had become the American Revolutionary War:
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

United States of America

13 Independent States United in CongressSecond United American Republic

There was no Constitution for the United Colonies of North America and likewise, when the 13 Colonies declared their Independence in 1776, there was also no governing document. This Second United American Republic: he United States of America: 13 Independent States United in Congress was founded by 12 states on July 2nd, 1776 (New York abstained until July 9th), and was governed through the United States Continental CongressJohn Hancock and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief.  Exhibited are Richard Henry Lee’s July 2, 1776 Resolution for Independency, and John Dunlap's printings of the Declaration of Independence:  

Declaration of Independence - Exhibited here is the Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776, with the entire text of the Declaration of Independence printed on page one of the four page newspaper. The following day, July 9th, New York would approve the resolution making the Declaration of Independence unanimous.

When most Americans picture the Declaration, they envision the engrossed manuscript signed by John Hancock and 55 others, titled “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.” But what they are seeing is a document that was not written or signed in July 1776. When the delegates agreed to the final text of the Declaration on July 4th, New York abstained. As seen in this newspaper, the original heading was "A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled." The Declaration was then signed on July 4th only by John Hancock and Continental Congress secretary Charles Thomson, and sent to press. The heading was changed later in July once New York added its assent, and on August 2, members of Congress met and signed the engrossed copy of the Declaration and did not become familiar to Americans until decades later. 

The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776 centennial printing of the Declaration of Independence reflects the experience of everyday Americans as they read news of independence for the first time during that momentous July of 1776.

1776 Journals of Congress - Exhibited here is the exceedingly rare Journals Of Congress. Containing The Proceedings From January 1, 1776, to January 1, 1777, York-town, Pa.: Printed by John Dunlap, with a manuscript note relaying provenance from New Hampshire Revolutionary War Governor Meshech Weare. 

This Declaration of Independence was printed by Dunlap after the Articles of Confederation were passed by the Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, the printing, exactly the same as Aiken's Journals removes the word "General" in the July 4th Dunlap Broadside title from "A Declaration of Independence by the Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress Assembled."

On June 12th, 1776, Congress resolved to appoint a committee of thirteen to prepare a draft constitution for the new republic. On July 12th, 1776, the committee presented the first draft Articles of Confederation of the United States of America.  The Continental Congress resolved:

"That eighty copies, and no more, of the confederation, as brought in by the committee, be immediately printed, and deposited with the secretary, who shall deliver one copy to each member: That a committee be appointed to superintend the press, who shall take care that the foregoing resolution [Articles of Confederation]."

The work on the new constitution would not be completed in Philadelphia due to the British advance, which forced a Continental Congress move first to Baltimore and then, with the occupation of Philadelphia,  a flight to York-Town, Pennsylvania on September 30th, 1777.  On November 7th, 1777, after reorganizing the Board of War, Congress agreed to resume debate on the Articles of Confederation on the 10th.  On that date, the Delegates convened and worked on the final alterations of the Articles that began 16 months earlier, until the morning of November 15th, 1777.  The session concluded with the Continental Congress adopting the Articles of Confederation under the condition that all thirteen states must ratify the new constitution before its enactment. Under the Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress would cease to exist and a new body, the United States, in Congress Assembled (USCA), would become the federal government of a “Perpetual Union between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia ”  entitled “The United States of America.”    Exhibited here is the John Dunlap 1778 printing of the Articles of Confederation:

United States of America

A Perpetual Union

The Articles of Confederation, not the Constitution of 1787, was the first US Constitution.  This constitution was passed by the US Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, and was enacted by Congress on March 1, 1781 as the founding document of our nation.  The United States of America: A Perpetual Union was founded by 13 States on March 1st, 1781, with the enactment of the first U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederationand governed through the United States in Congress Assembled.  Samuel Huntington and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief.  Exhibited here  is a 1781 Journals of Congress printing of the Articles of Confederation:

The 1781 Journals of Congress and Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) is open to the last page of the Articles of Confederation entry (March 1, 1781) and the page recording the first quorum of the United States in Congress Assembled  on March 2, 1781.   The USCA convened as the new government of the United States of America with Samuel Huntington as its President.   Secretary Charles Thompson began the new journal by placing “The United States in Congress Assembled" at the head of the first page. The USCA Journal report: “The ratification of the Articles of Confederation being yesterday completed by the accession of the State of Maryland: The United States met in Congress, when the following members appeared: His Excellency Samuel Huntington, delegate for Connecticut, President...”  --   Journals Of Congress, And Of The United States In Congress Assembled, For The Years 1781-1782. Published By Order Of Congress, Volume Vii. New York: Printed by John Patterson. 1787.  "An edition of five hundred copies was printed by order of Congress, 13 September, 1786.” 

Unfortunately the Articles constituted a feeble constitution, a confederation of sovereign States that formed a "Perpetual Union" based on mutual respect and a central government with no taxing power.  The federal government also had no power to regulate trade between the States. The national government would have to ask the States for money to wage war, establish federal departments, hire employees, maintain a judicial system and carry out the host of laws Congress passed to govern the new United States of America.  The States were expected, in a most gentlemanly fashion, to comply with all constitutional requests, bequeathing the federal government with money and land to fund its national endeavors. The legislative, executive and judicial systems were all entrusted to one body: the “United States in Congress Assembled.”  Each State had only one vote despite its population or its size, “all equal in the eyes of God.”  Presidents served only one year and Congress rotated candidacy between North and South.  The Presidents and Commander-in-Chief accepted only expenses for their services. It was a furtive commune where all members pledged secrecy and service for God and the people of their respective States that were freely united and desperately seeking peace. 

With the Continental Congress dissolved and the first U.S. Constitution now in effect, the new government of the USCA was faced with the reality that they had to disqualify both New Hampshire and Rhode Island from voting in the new assembly.  This was particularly dubious because the two delegates, as members of the U.S. Continental Congress, voted unanimously to adopt the Articles of Confederation as the first U.S. Constitution. Delaware Delegate Thomas Rodney, in his diary’s March 2, 1781 entry, explains the conundrum that was caused by the formation of the Constitution of 1777’s Congress:

The States of New Hampshire and Rhode Island having each but one Member in Congress, they became unrepresented by the Confirmation of the Confederation-By which not more than Seven nor less than two members is allowed to represent any State  -Whereupon General Sullivan, Delegate from New Hampshire moved  - That Congress would appoint a Committee of the States, and Adjourn till those States Could Send forward a Sufficient number of Delegates to represent them-Or that they would allow their Delegates now in Congress To give the Vote of the States until one More from each of those States was Sent to Congress to Make  their representation Complete.

He alleged that it was but just for Congress to do one or the other of them-for that the act of Congress by completing the Confederation ought not to deprive those States of their representation without giving them due notice, as their representation was complete before, & that they did not know when the Confederation would be completed. Therefore if the Confederation put it out of the power of Congress to allow the States vote in Congress because there was but one member from each them, they ought in justice to those States to appoint a Committee of the States, in which they would have an Equal Voice. This motion was seconded by Genl. Vernon from Rhode Island and enforced by arguments to the same purpose.

 But all their arguments were ably confuted by Mr. Burke of N.C. and others, and the absurdity of the motion fully pointed out, So that the question passed off without a Division. But it was the general opinion of Congress that those members might continue to sit in Congress, and debate & serve on Committees though they could not give the vote of their States.

It was unanimously agreed that the Articles of Confederation were in full force and for a State to have a vote in the USCA, unlike the Continental Congress, at least two delegates were required to cast a vote for their respective state.  

The Articles of Confederation government did enjoy some successes during its eight year existence.  The enactment of the 1783 Treaty of Paris, ending the war with Great Britain, is an example of success.

Exhibited here is the TREATY OF PARIS 1783 MAP entitled Etats Unis De L'amerique Septentrionale avec le Canada et la Floride, by Jean Lattre and 1783 Treaties of Paris printings  The displayed 18th-century copperplate engraved map was dedicated and presented to his Excellence Mr. Benjamin Franklin, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the Court of France.  The map clearly shows the States' land claim challenges to the Northwest Territory that were still being hotly debated in Congress and a primary reason why the Articles of Confederation, passed November 15, 1777, were not enacted until March 1, 1781.

The 1783 TREATY OF PARIS printings, from the Gentleman’s Magazine, November 1783 issue, are the full set of treaties that ended the American Revolutionary War. On 3 September 1783, representatives of King George III of Great Britain signed a treaty in Paris with representatives of the United States of America—commonly known as the Treaty of Paris (1783)—and two treaties at Versailles with representatives of King Louis XVI of France and King Charles III of Spain—commonly known as the Treaties of Versailles (1783). The United States gained more than it expected, thanks to the award of western territory. The other Allies had mixed-to-poor results. France won a propaganda victory over Britain after its defeat in the Seven Years War; its material gains, however, were minimal and its financial losses huge. It was already in financial trouble and its borrowing to pay for the war used up all its credit and created the financial disasters that marked the 1780s. Historians link those disasters to the coming of the French Revolution. The Dutch did not gain anything of significant value at the end of the war. The Spanish had a mixed result; they did not achieve their primary war goal of recovering Gibraltar, but they did gain some territory. The Spanish did not have to hand back West Florida, parts of Louisiana or Minorca, and were also given East Florida in exchange for the Bahamas.  Both East Florida and part of West Florida had been Spanish possessions before 1763, so the 1783 treaty did not specify boundaries, allowing the Spanish to claim that the 1763 boundaries still applied (the remainder of West Florida had been part of French Louisiana before 1763, and the rest of Louisiana had then been handed over to Spain).  

It is worth recalling at this point that although France was an ally of both the United States and Spain, Spain was not an ally of the United States. Spain's economy depended almost entirely on its colonial empire in the Americas, and a successful revolt by subjects of another colonial empire could set a ruinous example.  With such considerations in mind, Spain continually thwarted U.S. Foreign Secretary John Jay's attempts to establish diplomatic relations during his long assignments in Madrid.  Spain was the last participant in the American Revolutionary War to acknowledge the independence of the United States, a fortnight after the preliminary peace treaty with Britain, on February 3rd, 1783.    

By 1786, it was clear that the Articles of Confederation, as a governing constitution, was failing.  In January 1786, Virginia invited all the states to a special meeting at Annapolis in September to discuss the Trade and Commerce of the United States.”  In attendance were Chairman John Dickinson, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Clark, William C. Houston, George Read, Richard Bassett, Edmund J. Randolph, and James Madison.  Delegates from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and North Carolina either did not participate or arrived too late to take part. Maryland, the host state, along with Connecticut, South Carolina, and Georgia, did not make any appointments.  Because of the sparse representation, the commissioners took no action on the announced topic.

Hamilton and Madison, however, convinced the commissioners that they should exceed their limited mandate and recommend a national meeting to consider the adequacy of the Articles of Confederation. The carefully couched report, drafted by Hamilton, proposed that all the States and the United States in Congress Assembled endorse another conference to be convened at Philadelphia on the second Monday of May in 1787. Its purpose, they resolved, was “… the appointment of Commissioners, to meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday in May next, to take into consideration the situation of the United States, to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to report such an Act for that purpose to the United States in Congress Assembled, as when agreed to, by them, and afterwards confirmed by the Legislatures of every State, will effectually provide for the same.”  When the delegates rode away from Annapolis, they could not be sure that the proposed meeting would even take place.  

The Annapolis Convention of 1786 - A Philadelphia printing of its proceedings, resulting from a meeting of 12 commissioners from five States (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia), at the Maryland State House on September 11-14, 1786. American Museum, Or Repository Of Ancient And Modern Fugitive Pieces, Prose And Poetica, 1787 printing of the entire proceedings of The Annapolis Convention that met in the Maryland State House on September 11-14, 1786.

It was not until February 21, 1787 that the United States in Congress Assembled considered their committee’s report on the Annapolis Convention.  James Madison wrote:

The Report of the Convention at Annapolis in September 1786 had been long under consideration of a Committee of the Congress for the last year; and was referred over to a Grand Committee of the present year. The latter Committee after considerable difficulty and discussion, agreed on a report by a majority of one only, which was made a few days ago to Congress and set down as the order for this day. The Report coincided with the opinion held at Annapolis that the Confederation needed amendments and that the proposed Convention was the most eligible means of affecting them. The objections which seemed to prevail against the recommendation of the Convention by Congress were with some. That it tended to weaken the federal authority by lending its sanction to an extra-constitutional mode of proceeding with others 2. that the interposition of Congress would be considered by the jealous as betraying an ambitious wish to get power into their hands by any plan whatever that might present itself … All agreed & owned that the federal Govt. in its existing shape was inefficient & could not last long. The members from the Southern & middle States seemed generally anxious for some republican organization of the System which wd. preserve the Union and give due energy to the Government.

The USCA formally tweaked and then approved the New York Delegation’s resolution calling for a Philadelphia Convention at Independence Hall to revise the Articles of Confederation beginning in the 2nd week of May 1787.

Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several States be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States render the federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union.

Only Rhode Island refused to send delegates to the Philadelphia Convention for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.  Exhibited is Maryland’s resolution:

Maryland Assembly 1787 Act for the appointment of, and conferring powers in, deputies from this state to the federal convention – namely James McHenry, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll, John Francer Mercer, and Luther Martin.  LAWS OF MARYLAND PASSED AT A SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF MARYLAND, April and May 1787, begun and held at the City of ANNAPOLIS on Tuesday the tenth of April, and ended the twenty-sixth day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven  

The exhibit is open 7 days a week during library hours,  listed online at  Please contact Mikel Pak, associate director of public affairs, for media interviews at 504-861-5448.

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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Dr. Naomi Yavneh Klos hosting the Louisiana Primary Source Exhibit at the State Capitol Building for the 2012 Bicentennial Celebration.

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