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Tag: constitution day

Constitution 225: Friday Facts

Poster celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Constitution in 1937 (ARC 515119 )

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 … [ Read all ]

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

 

The Constitution Resolution, sometimes called the "fifth page" of the Constitution, will be on public display for the first time on September 14-19, 2012, in Washington, DC.

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 … [ Read all ]

Constitution 225: Celebrating our founding document

Jefferson High School Marching Colonials Performing on the Steps of the National Archives Building on Constitution Day, 1974 (ARC 3493297)

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 … [ Read all ]

What Franklin thought of the Constitution

The Scene at the Signing of the Constitution, oil painting (reproduction) by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940

The Scene at the Signing of the Constitution, oil painting (reproduction) by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940 (Architect of the Capitol)

All summer long, a group of men huddled in a stifling hot room in Philadelphia (Madison almost passed out from the heat) to develop the framework for a government that would govern the newly independent states of America.

There was debate, and there was arguing. There were grounds on which some delegates were immovable—Edmund Randolph, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry refused to sign as there was no Bill of Rights in the original Constitution. And there were some issues that were so contentious they were glossed over with broad words—slavery was barely addressed even though 18% of the population was in bondage at the time (according to the 1790 census).

There were arguments about how the number of Representatives in the House should be determined, how treaties should be signed, how roads should be built, canals dug, tariffs weighed.

But by September 17, 1787, after four months of secret debate and compromise, an 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin closed the convention with these words:

I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information,

[ Read all ]

The documents that built the Constitution

Just in time for Constitution Day on September 17, acting Chief of Reference at the National Archives Trevor Plante literally takes viewers inside the National Archives vaults to see some of his favorite rarely-displayed documents including the following:

  • The original text of the “Virginia Plan,” Edmund Randolph’s proposal for a national government that included three co-equal branches: “supreme legislative, judiciary and executive”;
  • A printed copy of the Constitution with George Washington’s handwritten annotations;
  • The final printed copy of the Constitution, which was delivered to the Constitutional Convention September 13, 1787, approved by vote on September 15, and then signed on September 17; and
  • The state of Pennsylvania’s ratification copy of the Constitution — unlike the four-page version of the Constitution on display at the National Archives in Washington, DC, the entire text is on one enormous sheet of parchment so it could be more easily transported.

“Inside the Vaults” is part of the ongoing effort by the National Archives to make its collections, stories, and accomplishments more accessible to the public. “Inside the Vaults” gives voice to Archives staff and users, highlights new and exciting finds at the Archives, and reports on complicated and technical subjects in easily understandable presentations. Earlier topics include the conservation of the original Declaration of Independence, the new Grace Tully collection of documents at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library, … [ Read all ]