SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Friday, in commemoration of Constitution Day the Georgia Historical Society (GHS) publicly displayed Abraham Baldwin’s draft copy of the United States Constitution during a free open house event today.

US Constitution Draft Annotated by Abraham Baldwin, 1787. Photo credit: Georgia Historical Society.

On why Constitution Day is significant in Savannah Stan Deaton, Senior Historian at the GHS said, “We think it’s significant for two reasons, having a draft copy of the US Constitution like we have, first of all, it’s a very rare document, but it literally allows people to see that this country is not founded on an ethnicity, or a race, or a language, or a religion, but an agreed upon document where we decided what our government was going to be and it governs us still, 235 years later.”

Constitution Day, held on Sept. 17, commemorates the formation and signing of the Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. The GHS held it a day earlier so that students and those in the community could stop by and see a vital piece of American History and for some, reflect.

“I actually frequent Forsyth a lot to exercise and I was just running around Forsyth and noticed that they were doing a free exhibit today. I didn’t know what Constitution Day was, to be honest, I’m more of a math buff than a history buff,” said Cedric Beamon. “So far it’s been a refresher for me, I grew up in Georgia so a lot of this stuff I learned in like elementary and middle school, so, it’s kind of good to like see that they’re still trying to make sure the kids understand the history of the state and everything like that.”

On what the US Constitution means to him Beamon said, “I wish that there was a little bit better understanding of where our people, well, Black people today, stood with the Constitution. Like, what does it mean for us? There’s a few laws being voted on now in other states that may affect some amendments to the constitution regarding like slavery and servitude and things like that and with Georgia being somewhat of a cousin state to some of those other states that are doing that legislation it would be very interesting to see, especially around constitution day, if we make some of those same changes.”

“I am here on a girl’s trip with my friends from Iowa, from high school. We heard from our concierge about this event,” said Ellen Frey.

On what the US Constitution means to her she said, “Equality for all, it’s the right to live free. I grew up in Iowa. History was not my most favorite subject at that time, but now that I’m older, I have a lot more interest in it.  It helps you to understand what our forefathers went through and what everyone went through.”

The celebration was part of a kickoff to the 2022-2023 Georgia History Festival, the signature K-12 educational program of the GHS. Beginning with the new school year in September, a variety of public programs, exhibits, in-school events, and educational resources bring history to life for students of all ages and encourage Georgians to explore the richness and diversity of Georgia’s past.

Founded in 1839, the GHS is the oldest continuously operating state historical society in the South and one of the oldest historical organizations in the nation. The institution collects, examines, and teaches Georgia history.