Skip to Main Content

Constitution Day: What is Constitution Day?

What is Constitution Day?

"...Americans, commonly speaking, refer to our form of government as a 'democracy.' One reason for this is because politicians of all political parties generally refer to our government as a democracy. Politicians generally do that. Glib references are constantly being made anent our democracy. But our form of government, strictly speaking, is not a democracy. It may more properly be called a representative democracy, but, strictly speaking, ours is a republic. 'We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands' -- not 'to the democracy for which it stands.'" Senator Robert Byrd, Congressional Record, September 25, 1998.

A democracy is defined in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary as "a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections."   The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a republic as "a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president."



In 2004, U.S. Senator Robert Byrd wrote a bill which was then signed into law establishing September 17 as Constitution Day. Senator Byrd designed this legislation to honor the Constitution as America’s most basic founding document, which was signed on September 17, 1787. According to the National Constitution Center’s website, Constitution Day “is a time for us to continue their [the signers’] legacy and develop habits of citizenship in a new generation of Americans.”