This month, we celebrate Constitution Day, an annual remembrance of the day that 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention gathered for the final time to sign the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. In honor of the document that has shaped our nation, American Heritage Network is sharing 30 Constitutional Trivia Facts (10 each on September 10th, 20th, and 30th). Test your knowledge. Did you know the following?
11. The oldest person to sign the document was Benjamin Franklin, who was 81. He was very ill and needed help to sign the document. Tears streamed down his face as he signed his name.
12. The youngest person to sign the document was 26-year-old Jonathan Dayton.
13. The original document was handwritten by Jacob Shallus, a Pennsylvania General Assembly Clerk, for $30 ($726 today).
14. When the Constitution was signed, the United States’ population was 4 million. It is now more than 309 million. Philadelphia was the nation’s largest city, with 40,000 inhabitants.
15. James Madison, “the father of the Constitution,” was the first to arrive in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention. He arrived in February, three months before the convention began, bearing the blueprint for the new Constitution.
16. The Constitution contains 4,543 words, including the signatures and has four sheets, 28-3/4 inches by 23-5/8 inches each. It contains 7,591 words including the 27 amendments.
17. Of the fifty-five delegates who attended the convention 34 were lawyers, 8 had signed the Declaration of Independence, and almost half were Revolutionary War veterans. The remaining members were planters, educators, ministers, physicians, financiers, judges and merchants. About a quarter of them were large land owners and all of them held some type of public office (39 were former Congressmen and 8 were present or past governors).
18. A proclamation by President George Washington and a congressional resolution established the first national Thanksgiving Day on November 26, 1789. The reason for the holiday was to give “thanks” for the new Constitution.
19. The words, “separation of church and state” do not appear anywhere in the Constitution.
20. James Madison was the only delegate to attend every meeting. He took detailed notes of the various discussions and debates that took place during the convention. The journal that he kept during the Constitutional Convention was kept secret until after he died. It (along with other papers) was purchased by the government in 1837 at a price of $30,000 (that would be $629,000 today). The journal was published in 1840.