Constitution Day is September 17. We’ve got events, programs, and activities at National Archives locations across the United States.
Pundits, candidates, and party activists like to cite the Constitution of the United States as the moral and legal backing for whatever they’re proposing. Or they say that something an opponent proposes is unconstitutional.
But the Constitution is silent on a lot of things you probably thought it said. Here are eight examples.
The President can veto a proposed amendment to the Constitution.
No. He has nothing to do with the amendments. Congress can propose an amendment with a two-thirds vote of both houses, or a Constitutional Convention can be called by a vote of two-thirds of the state legislatures. However, once the amendment is proposed either by Congress or a convention, it must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.
Only one amendment, the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition (the 18th Amendment), was ratified by conventions in the states.
The “Founding Fathers” who wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776 are the same men who wrote the Constitution in 1787.
Only five individuals signed both of these two founding documents. They were George Clymer, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, George Read, and Roger Sherman. Some of the famous signers of the Declaration were elsewhere when the Constitution was being written. Thomas Jefferson was in France … [ Read all ]
Posted by Jim on September 16, 2013, under - Constitution, Myth or History.
Tags: Amendments to the Constitution, Benjamiin Franklin, Constitution, constitutional convention, House, John Marshall, President, Senate, state legislatures, states, supreme court
Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz, historian of the National Archives.
June 21, 2013, marks the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution’s ratification. As we prepare for a long, hot summer here in the nation’s capital, I can only imagine what it felt like in 1787, when delegates from 12 states met in Philadelphia’s pre–air conditioning summer heat.
Their original purpose was revising the ineffective Articles of Confederation, the country’s first constitution. The delegates, however, soon decided to abandon the document altogether and start from scratch.
For four months the men worked tirelessly on a document outlining a new form of government. On September 17—now known as Constitution Day—delegates representing 12 states finished and signed the document (Alexander Hamilton signed the document even though New York lacked a quorum to vote in the convention).
Then the delegates passed a resolution to the Continental Congress, recommending that the Constitution be implemented upon approval by nine state conventions rather than by the unanimous approval of all 13 state legislatures as required by the Articles of Confederation.
On December 7, 1787, Delaware’s convention became the first to ratify the Constitution, earning the state its nickname “The First State.” Pennsylvania and New Jersey ratified later in December of 1787; and Georgia and Connecticut in January of 1788.
The remaining ratifications stalled as states argued that the new Constitution created a federal … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on June 21, 2013, under - Constitution, U.S. House, U.S. Senate.
Tags: 13 colonies, Constitution, constitution day, constitutional convention, delegates, Ratification, Senate, states
Today’s post comes from Keith Donohue, communications director for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives. This post originally appeared on the White House blog.
What was the original intent behind the Constitution and other documents that helped shape the nation? What did the Founders of our country have to say? Those questions persist in the political debates and discussions to this day, and fortunately, we have a tremendous archive left behind by those statesmen who built the government over 200 years ago.
For the past 50 years, teams of editors have been copying documents from historical collections scattered around the world that serve as a record of the Founding Era. They have transcribed hundreds of thousands of documents—letters, diaries, ledgers, and the first drafts of history—and have researched and provided annotation and context to deepen our understanding of these documents.
These papers have been assembled in 242 documentary editions covering the works of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, as well as hundreds of people who corresponded with them. Now for the first time ever, these documents—along with thousands of others that will appear in additional print volumes—will be available to the public.
Posted by Hilary on June 14, 2013, under - Constitution, - Declaration of Independence, - Exploration, - Presidents, - Revolutionary War, National Archives Near You, News and Events.
Tags: Constitution, digitization, Founding Fathers, NHPRC, online, white House blog
The 16th Amendment and the first Internal Revenue Bureau Form 1040 will be on display from April 1 to April 30 at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Today’s guest post comes to us from education and exhibit specialist Michael Hussey.
“Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever sources derived, without apportionment among the several states and without regard to any census or enumeration.” 16th Amendment to the Constitution
Each April, millions of Americans stay up late, snap pencils, and double-check their math as they complete their Federal income tax returns. This year marks the centennial of the constitutional amendment that made this a yearly ritual.
The Civil War prompted the first American income tax, a flat 3 percent on all annual incomes over $800, in 1861. Congress enacted a 2-percent tax on annual income over $4,000 in 1894, but it was quickly struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
By the early 20th century, members of both the Democratic and Republican parties advocated a constitutional amendment allowing a Federal income tax. On July 12, 1909, Congress passed a joint congressional resolution proposing such an amendment. The resolution was then sent to the states for consideration. By February 3, 1913, three-quarters of the states—the number required by the Constitution for ratification—had approved it. Certified by Secretary of State … [ Read all ]
Today’s blog post comes from National Archives social media intern Anna Fitzpatrick.
The news of the Emancipation Proclamation was greeted with joy, even though it did not free all the slaves. Because of the limitations of the proclamation, and because it depended on a Union military victory, President Lincoln recognized that the Emancipation Proclamation would have to be followed by a constitutional amendment in order to abolish slavery.
After the Senate passed a bill for an amendment in April 1864, but the House of Representatives did not, Lincoln suggested that the bill be taken up by the Republican Party in its 1864 platform for the upcoming Presidential elections.
His efforts met with success when the House passed the bill in January 1865. On February 1, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln approved the Joint Resolution of Congress submitting the proposed amendment to the state legislatures. The necessary number of states ratified it by December 6, 1865.
The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution formally abolished slavery in the United States. It provides that ”Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
The struggle for complete freedom was far from finished even with the 13th Amendment. Two more amendments were added to the … [ Read all ]