You may be surprised to see what’s on the best-seller list this quarter. Of course Harry Potter hit the top, that’s no surprise. But coming in second is the United States Constitution. Yes you heard that right. The U.S. Constitution has been one of the top 10 best sellers for the last two months—specifically the Pocket Constitution. So what caused this phenomenal change when just a few years ago the New York Times was referring to the Constitution as radical and members of Congress were saying Constitutional questions weren’t serious?
It began when Khizr Khan, whose son died serving in the U.S. Army, held up his pocket Constitution during the Democrat National Convention urging presidential candidate Donald Trump to read it. “Have you even read the United States Constitution?” Khan asked waiving his copy in the air. “Look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’”
Shortly afterward, sales and searches for the pocket Constitution sky-rocketed. The media was stunned on August 1st when a 52-page pocket Constitution published by the National Center for Constitutional Studies hit #2 on Amazon’s best-seller list sandwiched between two Harry Potter books.
Jeremy Nelson, COO for the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS), said he was surprised when they began being flooded with calls from media outlets all over the country asking about their pocket Constitution. Dan Sheridan, spokesman for NCCS, said he was watching the Democrat Convention when Khizr Khan held up his pocket Constitution but had no idea it would have this kind of impact.
The Constitution is cool again. Khizr Kahn clearly demonstrated the Constitution isn’t exclusive to a specific political party, race, gender or color. The Constitution protects the God-given rights of life, liberty, property and equal justice for all Americans; and people seem to be taking that seriously.
In the last six weeks NCCS has sold over 75,000 copies of their pocket Constitution on Amazon and over 100,000 in direct sales through in the last two weeks alone. Earlier this month NCCS launched FreedomFactor.org to promote their Constitution Project with the goal of distributing 100 million pocket Constitutions throughout the United States in the next three years. They have also released a Spanish version of the Pocket Constitution.
“The Constitution Project isn’t just about selling pocket Constitutions,” says Sheridan. “It’s about promoting the principles it espouses.”
Sheridan says this election cycle has really focused our attention on freedom but in a Roman-like nationalistic way. “The nation is very focused on the forms of patriotism right now,” says Sheridan, “but we aren’t paying enough attention to the substance. Freedom is more than waving a flag or standing for the National Anthem. It’s about the principles behind what those things stand for.”
Over 60 years ago, fearing Americans were forgetting those principles, a homemaker from Ohio, named Olga Weber decided to take action. In 1951 she began distributing copies of the Constitution to local schools, churches and libraries in hopes of reigniting a passion for the Constitution and the principles of liberty it is founded on. A year later she decided it would be a good idea to establish a Constitution Day to commemorate the historic document and what it stands for. The city council of her hometown agreed and the Mayor of Louisville, Ohio declared September 17th Constitution Day. The town celebrated with parades, picnics and patriotic presentations. It was such a roaring success Olga decided to petition the governor and Constitution Day became a State holiday.
Olga’s efforts didn’t end there. She had one more stop—the United States Congress. In August of 1953 Olga urged the United States Senate to pass a resolution designating September 17-23 as Constitution Week. The Senate and House approved her request and in August of 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law. The Mayor of Lousiville, Ohio nicknamed their city, “Constitution Town” and it remains so today. This week we celebrate the 61st anniversary of Constitution Week all because of an Ohio homemaker who knew what a miracle the Constitution is.
In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a proclamation designating September 17-23 as Constitution Week stating, “Americans are united by the ideals of equal justice, limited government, and the rule of law…during Constitution Week, we remember the vision and determination of the Framers to build a free society and we celebrate the historical document they created to achieve that goal.”
Constitution Week is an opportunity for families to talk about America’s history and heritage and the principles our nation was founded on. It is really a celebration for us—a time to recommit ourselves to the principles of liberty that made America the freest, most prosperous nation on earth.
In his 2008 proclamation, President Bush encouraged federal, State, and local officials as well as civic, social, and educational organizations to “conduct ceremonies and programs that celebrate our Constitution and reaffirm our rights and responsibilities as citizens.”
Responsibility is the key many of us are missing today. It doesn’t do any good to hold up the Constitution if we don’t understand the principles it stands for, the rights and responsibilities it reflects, the divided powers it enumerates and the limitations it stipulates. We can’t just buy it, we need to read it, know it, and we need to share it.
We need citizens, candidates and elected leaders—at all levels of government—that won't just hold up the Constitution but will uphold it--and it starts in our home!
There are many outstanding resources available to teach, learn, and share the Constitution in your home and community. “Forgotten American Stories: Celebrating America’s Constitution by Lydia Nuttall, a mom who developed a passion for the Constitution, is an exceptional book full of beautiful artwork, inspiring stories and great discussion questions. In the Constitution is another excellent resource for teaching children and youth about the Constitution. “Promises of the Constitution” is a book that covers the entire Constitution in short easy to read vignettes—great for sparking family conversations. The film "A More Perfect Union" chronicling the Constitutional Convention is an outstanding movie the whole family will enjoy.
However you celebrate the Constitution this week, remember to take time as a family to reflect on the many lives given and sacrifices made to attain it, the dedicated efforts of all those who preserve and protect it, and the incredible miracle it is that we even have it at all.