Happy National Constitution Day!
By Wendy H. Meyer
In honor of National Constitution Day and the ACLU’s centennial year, we’re rolling out a list of fun facts about the mighty document that governs our nation. We recommend that you store some of these factoids in your back pocket because on February 29, 2020, we’ll be holding our Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia, and Constitutional Quizzo will allow guests to walk away with some special prizes.
The Constitution’s Birthday
On September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by the delegates* to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, replacing the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution established our national government and fundamental laws and guaranteed certain basic rights for people in the United States (including non-citizens on U.S. soil). The document was ratified on June 21, 1788, and by 1791, the first 10 Amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, had been added; to date, it has been amended a total of 27 times. For more than two centuries, it has remained the supreme law of our nation.
- The Constitutional Convention was not convened with the intention of writing a Constitution; delegates met with the plan to revise the Articles of Confederation but later decided that an entirely new document was required.
- When the Constitution was ratified, the U.S. population was four million; Philadelphia was the nation’s largest city, with 40,000 residents.
- Neither Thomas Jefferson nor John Adams signed the Constitution — they were both abroad, Jefferson as Minister to France and Adams as Minister to Great Britain.
- At 4543 words (7762 with Amendments), the Constitution is the shortest written constitution of any major government. It’s also the oldest.
- The word “democracy” does not appear in the Constitution; rather, the Constitution frames America as a republic, where citizens elect representatives to make decisions for them rather than voting on decisions directly.
- During the Constitutional Convention, it was proposed that a popular vote be used to elect presidents; however, after 60…