Page:United States Statutes at Large Volume 106 Part 6.djvu/844

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106 STAT. 5402 PROCLAMATION 6473—SEPT. 16, 1992 Proclamation 6473 of September 16, 1992 f Citizenship Day and Constitution Week, 1992 By the President of the United states of America A Proclamation On September 17, 1787, after 4 months of rigorous debate, study, compromise, and decision, delegates to the Federal Convention in Philadelphia signed our Constitution and submitted it to the States for ratification. Their hopes and prayers for a successful Convention had been answered. Today, more than 200 years later, we Americans continue to enjoy the blessings of liberty and self-government guaranteed by our Constitution. When our Nation's Founders convened during the long, hot summer of 1787, leaving behind their farms and other personal interests in order to preserve our fragile Confederation of States, America looked very different from today. The United States has grown from a population of about 3,500,000 people who lived primarily along the Atlantic coast to a population of some 250,000,000 that now extends from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as to Alaska and Hawaii. In 1787 the primary means of transportation was the horse. The Constitution itself was carried from Philadelphia to the Confederation Congress in New York by stagecoach, on a journey that took Major William Jackson 2 days. Today, by contrast, one can travel the same distance within hours. Despite such dramatic changes, our Constitution remains the guiding charter of American government. This great document is, therefore, both a tribute to the wisdom and foresight of its Framers and a symbol of our abiding commitment to liberty under law. The Framers of our Constitution were well aware of the lasting significance of their actions, and James Madison expressed a commonly held sense of destiny when he suggested that the outcome of the Federal Convention would "decide forever the fate of republican government." Our Constitution thus codifies in law the timeless truths that were first set forth in our Declaration of Independertce: "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Generations of Americans have cherished our Constitution, and hundreds of thousands have given their lives to defend the principles it enshrines. We must continue to promote knowledge of, and reverence for, our Constitution if we are to preserve this great experiment in self- government and achieve further progress for America in the generations to come. As President Calvin Coolidge said: "If we wish to build new structures, we must have a definite knowledge of the old foundations.... We must frequently take our bearings from the fixed stars of our political firmament if we expect to hold a true course." To become naturalized citizens, immigrants to the United States must pass an examination on the guiding tenets and basic institutions of American government, including those set forth in our Constitution. Yet the responsibilities of citizenship belong to each of us, native-born and naturalized Americans alike. We fulfill those duties when we