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FACSIMILE LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
THE WHITE HOUSE
April 11, 1940
My dear Mr. Bloom:
As Chairman of the United States Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission it is a pleasure to commend the work you have accomplished in carrying out the celebration.
Your task, as Director General, was to make the American people aware of the importance of the Constitution in the daily lives of all of us. To know the Constitution is a fundamental duty of every citizen. You have stressed this fact and made the educational aspects of your work the most important ones.
I understand also that you are, in this final publication of the Commission, placing major emphasis on the study of the origins of the Constitution and the organization of the government under it. This is as it should be. The Constitution stands as the foundation on which later generations have built the present structure of our government. The forth-coming volume, therefore, should be valuable to those who are interested in that structure, which should be all citizens.
Very sincerely yours,
Honorable Sol Bloom,
DURING the more than four years of the existence of the United States Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission it was active along various lines. As the formation of the final Union was a matter of many months, extending from the organization of the Convention of 1787 on May 25 to the inauguration of President Washington on April 30, 1789, or even to the first term of the Supreme Court in February 1790, there was a long series of special events to commemorate. These involved not only the great national points of celebration—the signing, the last necessary ratification, the beginning of Congress, the inauguration, and the meeting of the Supreme Courtbut also numerous state and local days, such as the separate ratifications of the states. In the preparation for all these the Commission planned, advised, and participated, making material available, suggesting programs, holding exhibits, promoting publicity, and making the people as a whole conscious of the importance of the event and mindful to profit by it.
This task involved not only the transient celebrations, but also the production of material which should be of lasting benefit toward a proper understanding of the meaning of the Constitution and its place in the history and daily life of the country-of the origins and principles of our nation. One phase of this was to make generally available the great documents themselves, and in the case of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to distribute them as facsimiles and in such fixtures as would make them worthy memorials of the commemoration and constant reminders of the all important facts the celebration sought to inculcate. The other phase of this more permanent purpose was to tell the story of the Constitution popularly but accurately, with the accompanying state documents; and also to present in more detail form a study of the organization of the government under the Constitution.
The present publication serves the dual purpose of a report of the Commission's work and of the special commemorations; and a history of the formation of the Union, involving the two studies mentioned above and a presentation of the texts of the great documents of civil freedom that are the foundation of our national liberty and polity. In many respects the Constitution Sesquicentennial Celebration has been a complement of the former one in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington. He has been the central figure in both; but while the earlier event was concerned principally with him as a single character, the present one has considered him as a leader among leaders in the great work of his later years, when the liberty he had previously been indispensable in securing was made practical, substantiated, and perpetuated.
Table of Contents
The Action of the Continental Congress
The Presidential Election
The Organization of Congress
Inauguration of President Washington.
The Bill of Rights
The Executive Departments .
Departmental and Inter-Departmental Precedents
The Wayward Sisters
III. Liberty Documents
Petition of Right
Habeas Corpus Act
Bill of Rights (English)
Declaration of Independence.
Articles of Confederation.
Constitution of the United States, with Amendments
George Washington's Farewell Address