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Proclamation 6593—Citizenship Day and Constitution Week, 1993

September 17, 1993

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

September 17, 1787, is one of the most important, yet ironically one of the least known, dates in American history. On that day the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention completed their work by signing and reporting to the Continental Congress their proposed Constitution of the United States. Despite the enormous growth of our Nation in terms of population, industry, culture, and technology since 1787, the document drafted by 55 patriots during that summer in Philadelphia remains the fundamental law of our land.

Chief justice Marshall wrote that the Constitution was "designed to approach immortality as nearly as human institutions can approach it." Our Constitution is by far the oldest written framework for government in existence. The extraordinary longevity of the Constitution suggests that the British statesman William Gladstone was not exaggerating when he described our Constitution as "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."

The Constitution's endurance is, or course, a tribute to the wisdom and statesmanship of the Framers. But it is also a tribute to our continuing commitment to the fundamental precept of constitutionalism. The Constitution has served us well, but the same document, if given to a people without an appreciation of and a commitment to the rule of law, would be worse than useless. Thus, as we mark the 206th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, we celebrate not only the genius of the Founders, but also the fidelity of our people to the principles embodied in the Constitution.

If we are to maintain that commitment to government under law, we need to read and study the Constitution. Only by becoming familiar with its provisions can we understand and truly appreciate the Constitution's principles. Among the groups of Americans that have demonstrated their familiarity with the Constitution are naturalized Americans. As part of the naturalization process, persons seeking citizenship must pass an examination on the principles of American Government. That hundreds of thousands of people come to this country every year with the dream of becoming American citizens eloquently arrests to the success of the venture in self-government launched by our Constitution. It is the duty of all Americans to understand this document and the rights and responsibilities it conveys.

In commemoration of the signing of the Constitution, and in recognition of all those who as citizens of this Republic share the responsibility for preserving and protecting our constitutional heritage, the Congress has designated September 17, 1993, as "Citizenship Day" and the week beginning September 17, 1993, as "Constitution Week. "

Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 17, 1993, as "Citizenship Day" and the week beginning September 17, 1993, as "Constitution Week." I call upon the people of the United States to observe these occasions with appropriate ceremonies and activities, and I urge them to devote themselves to the study and discussion of the Constitution.

I further call upon the officials of the Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on September 17, 1993, in honor of Citizenship Day.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighteenth.

Signature of William J. Clinton


William J. Clinton, Proclamation 6593—Citizenship Day and Constitution Week, 1993 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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