Constitution Day observed with discussion on Syria, U.S. Civil War

Sept. 16, 2013
Contact: Office of Communications
865.981.8207; communications@maryvillecollege.edu

Maryville College will observe Constitution Day, Sept. 17, with a discussion on how current debates over Presidential and Congressional powers in response to events in Syria have interesting parallels with United States Civil War constitutional issues.

Dr. Aaron Astor, associate professor of history and author of books on the U.S. Civil War, including Rebels on the Border: Civil War, Emancipation, and the Reconstruction of Kentucky and Missouri, will discuss and debate U.S. constitutional issues with Dr. Mark O’Gorman, associate professor of political science.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 12:30 p.m. in the Bartlett Hall Sitting Room (across from Highland Grounds coffee house). Light refreshments will be served, and door prizes will be handed out to those participants most versed in the U.S. Constitution.

“When President Obama, as commander-in-chief, recently asked Congress to authorize American attacks on Syrian chemical facilities, he decided, from a Constitutional point of view, that over 70 years of presidential power-making is worth taking a second look,” Dr. O’Gorman said. “Discussing how much Constitutional power Congress should have, in comparison with the President’s current power, has had no more vivid example than what’s happened in Washington these past two weeks,” O’Gorman said.

Astor disagreed.

“Abraham Lincoln, as the 16th president, transformed the powers of the presidency during one of the nation’s most turbulent times, our Civil War. Being reminded of President Lincoln’s actions can help us all understand how the Constitution helps define political power in America, then and now.”

So, who is right – President Obama? President Lincoln? Our Founding Fathers?

Come to the Bartlett Sitting Room to find out.

Constitution Day observed annually

In 2005, Congress passed legislation declaring that “each educational institution that receives federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.”

The Constitution Day celebration became an annual event at Maryville College and colleges and universities across the country in 2005.

O’Gorman explained how Constitution Day is an opportunity for people to understand the historical significance of the nation’s most important document.

“People are surprised to find out how much the U.S. Constitution, created over 225 years ago, still impacts our government, and by extension our daily lives in America,” he said. “It is always in our best interest as citizens to be reminded how this important documents works in 21st century America.”