Friday, June 24, 2016

Everyone (both sides) needs to know what is in the Constitution


  • The U.S. Constitution has 4,400 words. It is the oldest and shortest written Constitution of any major government in the world."
  • Of the spelling errors in the Constitution, “Pensylvania” above the signers’ names is probably the most glaring.
  • Thomas Jefferson did not sign the Constitution. He was in France during the Convention, where he served as the U.S. minister. John Adams was serving as the U.S. minister to Great Britain during the Constitutional Convention and did not attend either.
  • The Constitution was “penned” by Jacob Shallus, A Pennsylvania General Assembly clerk, for $30 ($726 today).
  • Since 1952, the Constitution has been on display in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Currently, all four pages are displayed behind protective glass framed with titanium. To preserve the parchment’s quality, the cases contain argon gas and are kept at 67 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of 40 percent.
  • Constitution Day is celebrated on September 17th, the anniversary of the day the framers signed the document.
  • The Constitution does not set forth requirements for the right to vote. As a result, at the outset of the Union, only male property-owners could vote. African Americans were not considered citizens, and women were excluded from the electoral process. Native Americans were not given the right to vote until 1924.
  • James Madison, “the father of the Constitution,” was the first to arrive in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention. He arrived in February, three months before the convention began, bearing the blueprint for the new Constitution.
  • Of the forty-two delegates who attended most of the meetings, thirty-nine actually signed the Constitution. Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts refused to sign due in part due to the lack of a bill of rights. When it came time for the states to ratify the Constitution, the lack of any bill of rights was the primary sticking point.
  • The Great Compromise saved the Constitutional Convention, and, probably, the Union. Authored by Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman, it called for proportional representation in the House, and one representative per state in the Senate (this was later changed to two.) The compromise passed 5-to-4, with one state, Massachusetts, “divided.”
  • Patrick Henry was elected as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, but declined, because he “smelt a rat.”
  • Because of his poor health, Benjamin Franklin needed help to sign the Constitution. As he did so, tears streamed down his face.
  • Gouverneur Morris was largely responsible for the “wording” of the Constitution, although there was a Committee of Style formed in September 1787.
  • The oldest person to sign the Constitution was Benjamin Franklin (81). The youngest was Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey (26).
  • A proclamation by President George Washington and a congressional resolution established the first national Thanksgiving Day on November 26th, 1789. The reason for the holiday was to give “thanks” for the new Constitution.
  • The first time the formal term “The United States of America” was used was in the Declaration of Independence.
  • It took one hundred days to actually “frame” the Constitution.
  • There was initially a question as to how to address the President. The Senate proposed that he be addressed as “His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties.” Both the House of Representatives and the Senate compromised on the use of “President of the United States.”
  • James Wilson originally proposed the President be chosen by popular vote, but the delegates agreed (after 60 ballots) on a system known as the Electoral College. Although there have been 500 proposed amendments to change it, this “indirect” system of electing the president is still intact.
  • George Washington and James Madison were the only presidents who signed the Constitution.
  • James Madison was the only delegate to attend every meeting. He took detailed notes of the various discussions and debates that took place during the convention. The journal that he kept during the Constitutional Convention was kept secret until after he died. It (along with other papers) was purchased by the government in 1837 at a price of $30,000 (that would be $629,000 today). The journal was published in 1840.
  • On March 24, 1788, a popular election was held in Rhode Island to determine the ratification status of the new Constitution. The vote was 237 in favor and 2,945 opposed!
Some facts about the men who were affiliated in one way or another with the Constitution you may not know. With diehards from both sides of the political spectrum "railing" at the other side for not following the Constitution, the Walker Report will continue to periodically post information relating to the Constitution or the actual document itself to educate both sides on the reality of the Constitution.

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