Ronald Reagan picture

Proclamation 5460—Law Day U.S.A., 1986

April 16, 1986

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

May 1, 1986, is Law Day U.S.A. It is traditionally a time to focus our Nation's attention on the importance of the rule of law in our free society. But this year's Law Day has special significance. Its theme, "Foundations of Freedom," is designed to prepare all citizens for an important event in America's history: the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution in 1987.

The foundations of freedom upon which our Nation was built include the Magna Carta of 1215, English common law, the Mayflower Compact, the Act of Parliament abolishing the Court of Star Chamber, and numerous colonial charters. These and similar precedents, rooted in a firm conviction of the worth and dignity of the human person, articulated fundamental concepts, such as due process of law, trial by jury, and freedom of speech. In drafting the Constitution, our forefathers sought to embody these concepts in a single document, creating a rule of law that continues to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity .... "

Our written Constitution has been in existence for 200 years, longer than that of any other nation in the world. Although our Nation has grown from 13 isolated agricultural States to an industrialized society of 240 million people, the text of the Constitution provides today, as it did in 1787, a blueprint for a functioning republic with well-considered and workable guidelines for democratic self-government. Its endurance is a tribute not only to the wisdom of the authors of that great document, but to all the citizens who, in our courts and legislatures, have fought to uphold its vital guarantees. It is also a testament to a two-hundred-year-old tradition of freedom through voluntary adherence to the rule of law. Because of the vigilance of the American people, we continue to be a country governed by law, rather than by force or the whim of a few self-proclaimed leaders.

Law Day U.S.A. is an important opportunity for all Americans to examine the historical precedents that led to the establishment of the rule of law in America through the United States Constitution, and consequently to improve our understanding and appreciation of the important contribution these sources made to the creation of our free society. As we observe Law Day, I urge everyone to join me in renewing our dedication to the foundations of our freedom, principles that ensure that, in this Nation, all men and women will continue to be free, enjoying the full and equal protection of the law.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, in accordance with Public Law 87-20 of April 7, 1961, do hereby proclaim Thursday, May 1, 1986, as Law Day U.S.A. I urge the people of the United States to use this occasion to renew their commitment to the rule of law and to reaffirm our dedication to the principles embodied in the documents that form the foundations of our freedom. I call upon the legal profession, schools, civic, service and fraternal organizations, public bodies, libraries, the courts, the communications media, business, the clergy, and all interested individuals and organizations to join in efforts to focus attention on the need for the rule of law. I also call upon all public officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Law Day, May 1, 1986.

In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 16th day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and tenth.


[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:35 a.m., April 17, 1986]

Ronald Reagan, Proclamation 5460—Law Day U.S.A., 1986 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives