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Preface

THIS VOLUME constitutes the report of the United States Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission, and the historical data and information contained in the preceding sections are the selected results of research by the Commission's staff during the celebration period.

The work of the Commission was primarily that of a coordinating organization, designed also to serve as a disseminator of historical facts and information not readily available to the thousands of local committees formed by states, cities, schools, patriotic groups, churches, and fraternal and civic organizations. The Commission initiated the formation of these committees, maintained close contact with them, and supplied them at frequent intervals with factual information and suggested plans of observances.

The enthusiastic response to the Commission's efforts and the keen interest that was manifested throughout the entire observance period testified most eloquently to the soundness of the Commission's aims in focusing attention on those principles which have given us a government which obeys those whom it rules, and whose people rule the government which they obey.

The portions which follow are added to furnish a summary of the principal celebration activities with which the Commission itself was directly concerned, and also with some added major details. Each observance sponsored directly by the Commission was duplicated by similar and varying celebrations held all over the nation, and it is believed the following pages will present an adequate idea of the character and scope of the celebration as a whole.

SOL BLOOM,
Director General,

United States Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission.

Report of the Commission

CREATION OF THE COMMISSION AND ITS POLICIES THE CELEBRATION of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the formation, ratification, and establishment of the Constitution, was provided for in a joint resolution of the Congress, approved August 23, 1935, which authorized the establishment of the United States Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission (see p. 11). Although Congress authorized a total appropriation of $485,000, actually only $360,000 was appropriated. At the close of the celebration period the Commission had on hand a considerable amount of salable material, and the proceeds of such sales will be turned back to the Treasury.

Under the authority of the resolution of Congress and subsequently enacted legislation, the Commission prepared nation-wide plans. Letters were sent to mayors and also to the heads of patriotic societies and other organizations, and radio addresses were made inviting the submission of suggestions for consideration. The ideas received from such sources, so far as they were practical and constructive, were included in the program of the Commission.

The Director General, in establishing the policy of the Commission, aimed to make the celebration the occasion for instilling in the mind and heart of every American, young and old, an individual realization of his relation to the Constitution-how it is the fortress of his liberty, the stronghold in which he can take refuge from oppression. It was constantly aimed to bring home the knowledge that the Constitution is the spirit of America, the flowering of freedom in a free land. The Commission desired to impress upon American citizens that the Constitution is their law, made by them and alterable only by them the sublime emanation of their will, binding upon Presidents, Congress, courts and states, holding these authorities by irresistible power within their respective spheres, and commanding them to respect and protect the rights of every human being under the American flag.

OFFICIAL PROCLAMATION BY THE
PRESIDENT

ON JULY 4, 1937, the President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued a formal proclamation designating the period commencing September 17, 1937, as one of commemoration of those events which led to the establishment of our government under the Constitution.

The text of the President's proclamation follows:

WHEREAS the Constitution of the United States was signed on September 17, 1787, and had by June 21, 1788, been ratified by the necessary number of States and,

WHEREAS George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States on April 30, 1789,

NOW, THEREFORE, I, FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, President of the United States of America, hereby designate the period from September 17, 1937, to April 30, 1939, as one of commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the signing and the ratification of the Constitution and of the inauguration of the first President under that Constitution.

In commemorating this period we shall affirm our debt to those who ordained and established the Constitution "in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

We shall recognize that the Constitution is an enduring instrument fit for the governing of a far-flung population of more than one hundred and thirty million, engaged in diverse and varied pursuits, even as it was fit for the governing of a small agrarian Nation of less than four million.

It is therefore appropriate that in the period herein set apart we shall think afresh of the founding of our Government under the Constitution, how it has served us in the past and how in the days to come its principles will guide the Nation ever forward.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this fourth day of July, in the year of Our
Lord nineteen hundred and thirty-seven, and of the Independence of the
United States of America the one hundred and sixty-second.
By the President:

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A copy of the President's proclamation was placed in every postoffice, and hundreds of thousands of beautiful reproductions, illuminated in colors, with the seal of the United States and draped

PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION

585

American flags and bordered with pictures of the signers of the Constitution, were distributed to schools, institutions, and committees throughout the United States.

AIMS OF THE COMMISSION

IN CARRYING out the educative and informative purposes of the celebration, two principal purposes were kept constantly in mind. The first was to make available, in plain and simple language, factual data about the Constitution and those events that led to its formation and establishment. The second was to celebrate those events in a manner designed to conform to the educational aims of the commemoration. Extensive research and writing, followed by the printing and distribution of the results, was necessary for the first; and a broad and inclusive plan for the second, with an organization adequate to bring to the attention of the entire nation the significance of the celebration, and to suggest and direct the many-phased expression of it.

ORGANIZATION CHART

THESE aims, and the means to be employed to carry them out, are shown diagrammatically on the next two pages. As was inevitable, the development of the work brought about divergences. Some of the features attracted more attention than was anticipated and demands upon the time of the limited staff to the detriment of other phases of the plan. In other cases, interest or the means of gratifying it did not come up to the expected level. However, in the main the plan was carried out, and the chart is given here as indicative of the activities of the Commission.

ORGANIZATION PERSONNEL

THE ORGANIZATION and direction of this greatest celebration ever held in commemoration of the establishment of a government, required the services of the best talent available. The director general was fortunate in being able to draw about him not only men and women of devoted loyalty, but those who were specialists in the various phases of the celebration activities. When it is remembered what extensive work was accomplished, the staff seems small; but it was built up as the demands for service increased and reduced as the pressure relaxed. As the end of the celebration approached, the staff continued to be reduced until only those necessary to the preparation and compilation of this volume were retained.

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