Facts about the US Constitution…
Our Houston Chronicle has “The Mini Page” that comes out once a week to help educate children. I love reading this because things are usually laid out very simply. This weeks story was on the US Constitution. Some of the facts I learned were:
The Convention Delegates:
During the Constitutional Convention from May 25th to Sept. 17, 1787
1) 55 men attended at some time or other. Some went every day the convention was in session. Others came and went as they wished. Delegates from New Hampshire did not arrive until July 23rd.
2) Four did not agree with what the convention was doing and left.
3) 38 delegates signed the Constitution. They signed in order, from North to South.
4) Many of the delegates were old friends. The average age was 44. Ben Franklin was the oldest at 81. The youngest was Jonathan Dayton, 26 of New Jersey.
5) Delegate John Dickinson of Delaware asked a fellow delegate to sign for him.
6) The Constitution has 40 signatures. One of them is the secretary of the convention, William Jackson. He had been an officer in the Revolutionary War, and later served as President Washington’s private secretary.
7) Almost all of the delegates had taken part in the government of the country or of their states. They knew firsthand about lawmaking.
8) They were all well-educated for men of their time. Twenty-seven of them had graduated from college. All were readers of books, especially history books.
9) Most (34) were lawyers. They were also planters, educators, ministers, doctors, merchants and soldiers. More than half had served in the Revolutionary war.
Signers of the Constitution:
Our Constitutions birthday is Sept. 17th. It was on that day in 1787 that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the document that they had worked on for nearly four months.
1) Franklin’s Speech: Ben Franklin was 81 years old. He did not have the strength to stand and make a speech at this meeting. He asked another delegate to read one he had written. Franklin said that he did not agree with everything in the Constitution. However, he doubted that another convention would write a better one. He urged all delegates to sign and support it.
2) Not everyone signed: Some delegates would not or could not support the Constitution. Three of the delegates at the final meeting refused to sign it. George Mason of Virginia did not sign because it did not have a bill of rights. Edmond Randolph, also of Virginia, thought that it gave the president too much power. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts thought it gave the central government too much power.
3) After it was signed: After the Constitution was signed, it became part of the Six-page report that the convention sent to the Congress, which was meeting in New York. Congress received the package containing the Constitution, a resolution, and a letter from George Washington on Sept. 20, 1787. In less than a week, considered it and sent it to the states for ratification, or approval. It was ratified by nine of the thirteen states by July 1788.
As a matter of note:
George Washington was the most important man at the convention. He was such a great leader that his participation influenced others to take part. He did not take part in the debates during the sessions. However, he often consulted with members in committees and in private. He was unanimously chosen as the president of the convention.
James Madison is known as the father of our Constitution. He spoke out and worked very hard for a strong national government. The notes he kept are the best record of what went on.
The signer’s signatures are on the fourth, and last, page of the Constitution.
Now, If I were to give you a quiz, could you remember these facts?