September 17 marks the signing of the U.S. Constitution and the national celebration of a living document that shapes the destiny of every U.S. citizen.
Every American ought to be aware of the provisions stated in the Constitution addressing individual rights and freedoms. However, not everybody knows the drama, complications, and attitudes that went into the creation of the document.
Here are 10 curious facts you may not be aware of regarding the Constitution:
- The U.S. Constitution is the shortest national constitution in the world at 4,400 words.
- Over 11,000 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed, only 27 have been ratified.
- Benjamin Franklin was the oldest signer of the constitution at 81. He died at age 84.
- George Washington initially proposed a 'day of thanks' or Thanksgiving Day as a way to honor the Constitution.
- While drafting, the Constitution included a clause that would abolish slavery 20 years after its implementation.
- Only 12 of the 13 colonies were present during the drafting of the Constitution. Rhode Island did not want to participate and was the last to sign on May 29, 1790.
- Independence Hall, where the Constitution was signed, is also where the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation were signed several years earlier.
- The iconic first words of the Constitution, 'We the people of the United States,' originally listed each individual state from north to south instead of 'the United States.'
- Gouverneur Morris, a delegate from Pennsylvania is usually credited as the 'Penman of the Constitution.' Actually, a man named Jacob Shallus - assistant clerk of the Pennsylvania State Assembly - penned most of the document.
Despite fears of corruption and inequity of representation, the U.S. Constitution was fully ratified on May 29, 1790. Our nation’s fathers acted as all statesmen and politicians should; they compromised for the good of the people. Now, on September 17, above all else, it remains important to celebrate that document by which we create our individual destinies.
Editor's note: These and more Constitution Facts can be found at ConstitutionFacts.com