Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

Subscribe to Email Updates

Tag: Constitution 225

Constitution 225: Fractions and ratifications

 

Today’s post was written by National Archives volunteer Paul Richter. It is part of a series tracing the development of the Constitution in honor of the 225th anniversary of this document on September 17, 2012.

On Monday, September 10, 1787, the Constitutional Convention was fixated on fractions.

After four months of debate and compromise, the delegates knew they were nearing a final document. With the end in sight, they turned their attention to the future. There were two central questions they needed to answer.

First, how would the nation throw the switch to shut down the old government and start up the new government? Getting one-half of the states to agree to be governed by the Constitution seemed a little light, but three-fourths seemed a little heavy. The delegates finally settled on two-thirds; the Constitution would become effective once it was ratified by 9 of the 13 states.

Second, how could the new government develop with the nation as both grew and changed? The delegates agreed to include a mechanism by which future statesmen could improve or correct the Constitution. Proposals to amend the Constitution can be made by both two-thirds of the Senate and two-thirds of the House of Representatives, or two-thirds of the state legislatures can propose an amendment. No matter how the amendment is proposed, no amendment goes into effect until [ Read all ]

Constitution 225: Friday Facts

Constitution Day is September 17. Here are 17 Constitution facts to impress your friends and family. (Need more than 17? Our Constitution web page has all you need to know!)

SEVENTEEN: The Constitution has 4,543 words, including the signatures. It takes about 30 minutes to read.

SIXTEEN: The Constitution was drafted in fewer than 100 working days.

FIFTEEN: Each of the four parchment sheets of the Constitution measures 28 3/4 inches by 23 5/8 inches.

FOURTEEN: George Washington was chosen unanimously to preside over the Constitutional Convention.

THIRTEEN: Madison kept a journal during the Constitutional Convention. Congress appropriated $30,000 to buy it (and other papers) in 1837.

TWELVE: Those who favored ratifying the Constitution were called Federalists; those who opposed were Antifederalists.

ELEVEN: Two of the 12 amendments submitted as the Bill of Rights were rejected.

TEN: There is no mention of education in the Constitution; education is reserved for the states.

NINE: These cities have been U.S. capitals: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lancaster, York, Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton, New York, and finally Washington, DC.

EIGHT: The book that had the greatest influence on the Constitutional Convention was Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws, which first appeared in 1748.

SEVEN: Montesquieu borrowed much of his doctrine from Englishman John Locke, with whose writings the delegates were also familiar.

SIX: The Chief Justice is mentioned in the Constitution, but the … [ Read all ]

Constitution 225: There’s a “fifth” page the public has never seen

 

Millions of people have passed through the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, to see the original parchments that are our Charters of Freedom. They pause to look at the faded writing on the Declaration of Independence, the bold opening words “We the People” on the Constitution, and the straightforward enumeration of our Bill of Rights.

This year, for the first time, visitors will be able to see what is sometimes referred to as the “fifth page” of the Constitution—the Resolutions of Transmittal to the Continental Congress. A special display for the 225th anniversary of the Constitution in September, will feature this document. “It’s up there with the Constitution in terms of value,” says curator Alice Kamps.

The resolutions spell out how the new Constitution would be adopted by the United States and how the new government would be put into effect.

Instead of seeking the consent of Congress and the 13 state legislatures, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention proposed that the Constitution “be laid before the United States in Congress assembled” and then submitted  to  special ratifying conventions elected by the people in each of the states. Once nine states had ratified it, this new instrument of government  would go into effect in those nine states.

This process was carefully devised to ensure that the authority of the new … [ Read all ]

Constitution 225: Conservation and Re-encasement

 

In light of the upcoming 225th Constitution Day on September 17, I spoke with Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler and Catherine Nicholson, two of the very few people who have touched the Constitution in the last century, about how they approached the task of conserving the Charters of Freedom.[ Read all ]

Constitution 225: Celebrating our founding document

The Constitution turns 225 on September 17, and the National Archives is ready to celebrate our founding document!

Don’t miss your chance to see the “fifth page” of the Constitution, on display for the first time. It will be in the Rotunda for public viewing only from September 14 to 17.

From now until September 17, we’ll be running a series of blog posts about the Constitution. Learn about how the Constitution came to the National Archives, how we care for the Constitution now, the unseen but important “fifth” page, the errors that its scribe made, the fate of some of its signers as recorded in the 1800 census, as well as a post debunking common myths and misconceptions about the Constitution.

Follow us on Twitter @usnatarchives and use #Constitution225 for all the Constitution news that’s fit to tweet! (And stay tuned for a special Twitter contest judged by the Archivist of the United States.)

We have great resources for teachers, too, with workshops for Constitution Day and a special page on DocsTeach.

Want more Constitution? There will be public programs at the National Archives building, including book lectures, films, panel discussions, and a birthday celebration. Our September 26 event will be streamed live online through our Ustream channel.

September 12 at 7 p.m., The Constitution Turns 225 Yale Law Professor Akhil Amar … [ Read all ]