On the anniversary of its signing, faculty, students reflect on the U.S. Constitution

Thursday, September 17, 2015

U.S. Constitution

Across the country, universities and colleges will celebrate Constitution Day, an annual commemoration of the signing of the U. S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, by the 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Here, UNH scholars of American history and politics, and their students, share their own tweet-sized reflections on the Constitution and its lasting effect on the human story. Share your reflections using the hashtag #ConstitutionDay.




The Constitution was an imperfect document at the beginning. But after the Civil War, it inched nearer to perfection with the addition of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments — which still stand as great safeguards of the rights of minorities.

Jason Sokol, Associate Professor of History 



One hundred years ago, the U.S. government used a treaty to do something otherwise unconstitutional, via the Migratory Bird Treaty and Missouri v. Holland.

Kurk Dorsey, Professor of History



In honor of Constitution Day, stop tweeting and read this today.

Dante Scala, Associate Professor of Political Science



Hard to believe but true: The U.S. Constitution, timeless and glorious document that it is, was written by a committee.

Mark Huddleston, President of the University of New Hampshire and Professor of Political Science 



Pondering how best to honor the First Amendment: by speaking aggressively or by speaking responsibly?

Charles Putnam, Clinical Professor of Justice Studies 



"Ensuring domestic tranquility” was central to the framers’ aims, and it is not exactly coincidental that “the right to keep and bear arms” was perceived as necessary in a new nation where one-fifth of the population was enslaved.

Jeff Bolster, Professor of History



Can anyone doubt that the U.S. Constitution, a document written in the 18th century, remains a living, breathing force in American democracy today? Today, in 2015, political debate on immigration turns around the 14th Amendment and the meaning of “birthright citizenship.” ­

Ellen Fitzpatrick, Professor of History 



The U.S. Constitution shows us the worst as well as possibilities for the best the U.S. can be. Let’s face the worst honestly and work for the best.

Marla Brettschneider, Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies



In Jacobson vs. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court said that the Constitution permitted compulsory vaccination. What if it hadn’t?  

Molly Dorsey, Associate Professor of History 



Americans were too busy fighting over the Panic of 1837’s effects to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Constitutional Convention’s end.

Jessica Lepler, Associate Professor of History 



“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves." (—Thomas Jefferson) 

—Virginia Grinch, student in History of Early American Republic course



The Constitution: Let's face it, the Articles of Confederation were going nowhere fast.

—Khalid Antar, student in History of Early American Republic course



Can we talk about how Federalists pushed for centralized government when we fought the revolution to be free?

—Elisabeth Iacono, student in History of Early American Republic course



Fun facts explaining why George Washington didn’t smile here.

—Jen King, student in History of Early American Republic course



The Founding Fathers wanted to create the Constitution to create equality for all people ... except Native Americans and slaves.

—Savannah Harris, student in History of Early American Republic course



We actually have those opposed to the Constitution to thank for the Bill of Rights.

—Aaron Chin, student in History of Early American Republic course



The Constitution doesn't include the principle of judicial review — some early Americans thought that power should rest with the states' legislatures.

—Braedon Stacey , student in History of Early American Republic course 



Share your reflections. Use #ConstitutionDay @UofNH