A Memorandum to the Marist Community from Dennis J. Murray,

Today is Constitution Day, the federal government’s observance of the day the framers signed the document at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. After the necessary number of state ratifications, the Constitution came into effect in 1789 and has served as the basis for the U.S. government ever since.

The September 17 observance was established in 2004 through the efforts of the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who famously carried a copy of the Constitution in his pocket. I encourage you to take a moment and consider the many rights and protections we enjoy because of this great document. The U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in continuous use, and it is worth remembering that, at the time, our Founding Fathers’ ideas about individual freedom and protections were radical. The rights that many of us now take for granted were hard-won, and for many of our citizens, they were not fully enjoyed until relatively recently.

United States Constitution

United States Constitution

Here are some other interesting facts about the U.S. Constitution:

– In addition to being the world’s oldest written constitution, it is also the shortest (with 4,400 words).

— Neither Thomas Jefferson nor John Adams signed the Constitution; at the time of the Constitutional Convention, they were serving as U.S. Ministers to France and Great Britain, respectively.

— When the Constitution was signed, the United States’ population was four million. It is now more than 315 million.

— John Adams referred to the Constitution as “the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen,” and George Washington called it a “miracle.”

In recognition of Constitution Day, Marist is sponsoring a special lecture tomorrow evening by Jeffrey Toobin, Senior Analyst for CNN and Staff Writer for The New Yorker. Mr. Toobin is the author of several books on the Supreme Court and other legal topics. His talk, entitled “Analyzing Politics, Media, and the Law,” will take place on Wednesday, September 18 at 7 p.m. in the Nelly Goletti Theatre. It promises to be a fascinating lecture, and I hope you will consider attending.

As we celebrate 226 years of the U.S. Constitution, let us continue to appreciate the power of its ideas to shape the country we are today.

Dennis J. Murray


Marist College

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