Thursday, September 21, 2023 


The Constitutional Convention assembled in Philadelphia in May of 1787. The delegates shuttered the windows of the State House and swore secrecy so they could speak freely. Although they had gathered to revise the Articles of Confederation, by mid-June they had decided to completely redesign the government. There was little agreement about what form it would take. One of the fiercest arguments was over congressional representation—should it be based on population or divided equally among the states? The framers compromised by giving each state one representative for every 30,000 people in the House of Representatives and two representatives in the Senate. They agreed to count enslaved Africans as three-fifths of a person. Slavery itself was a thorny question that threatened to derail the Union. It was temporarily resolved when the delegates agreed that the slave trade could continue until 1808.

After three hot summer months of equally heated debate, the delegates appointed a Committee of Detail to put its decisions in writing. Near the end of the convention, a Committee of Style and Arrangement kneaded it into its final form, condensing 23 articles into seven in less than four days.

On September 17, 1787, 38 delegates signed the Constitution. George Reed signed for John Dickinson of Delaware, who was absent, bringing the total number of signatures to 39. It was an extraordinary achievement. Tasked with revising the existing government, the delegates came up with a completely new one. Wary about centralized power and loyal to their states, they created a powerful central government. Representing wildly different interests and views, they crafted compromises. It stands today as one of the longest-lived and most emulated constitutions in the world.

[Text from National Archives]


The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
will host a
Reading of the U.S. Constitution
on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at 12:00 p.m.
on the plaza of the Robert T. Matsui Federal Courthouse

As an exercise in understanding where we come from, we are reading the original document, while noting where it has been amended, and also reading the amendments which represent the current version of the Constitution.

Watch a recording of the 2023 event on YouTube




Follow along with the National Archives transcription of the U.S. ConstitutionBill of Rights, and The Constitution Amendments 11-27.

Download high resolution copies of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Amendments 11-27.

The Constitution: How Did it Happen? - National Archives.

On this day, the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia - a National Constitution Center blog. 

Find additional information and resources on the United States Courts' website for Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and Educational Activities.

An Interactive Constitution experience by the National Constitution Center.


Special thank you to Senior U.S. District Judge Curtis Lynn Collier of the
Eastern District of Tennessee for pioneering the Constitution Day reading idea,
and the American Democracy Project at Middle Tennessee State University
for the U.S. Constitution script it prepared for use there.

Thank you to all the organizations who helped make this event possible

Sacramento Chapter of the Federal Bar Association
United States Courts Ninth Circuit Library
Operation Protect & Defend


For more information about this event please contact Daniel Spohr-Grimes at dspohr-grimes@caed.uscourts.gov.


United States Courts published article on Constitution/Citizenship Day