This month, we have celebrated Constitution Day, an annual remembrance of the day that the 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 has shared 30 Constitutional Trivia Facts (10 each on September 10th, 20th, and 30th). Here is the final installment. Test your knowledge. Did you know the following?
21. At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin observed the symbol of a half-sun on George Washington’s chair and remarked, “I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
22. Although Benjamin Franklin’s mind remained active, his body was deteriorating. He was in constant pain because of gout and having a stone in his bladder, and he could barely walk. He would enter the convention hall in a sedan chair carried by four prisoners from the Walnut Street jail in Philadelphia.
23. John Adams referred to the Constitution as “the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen” and George Washington wrote to the Marquis de Lafayette that “It (the Constitution) appears to me, then, little short of a miracle.”
24. The Convention officially opened on Friday, May 25, 1787 with delegates from only seven states. Others came along in due time until all the states were represented except Rhode Island.
25. As the delegates were signing, James Madison carefully watched each one. When Franklin signed, Madison wrote, “The old man wept.”
26. Two men who made some of the greatest contributions to the convention were unable to attend. John Adams was serving as the American minister to England but had written a treatise entitled “A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States, ” widely read by the delegates; Thomas Jefferson was serving as the American minister to France, but had sent more than 100 books to James Madison, who became a walking encyclopedia on the history and political philosophy of the governments of the past.
27. At the time the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia on May 25th, 1787 the entire American experiment was falling to pieces. There was a deep depression, runaway inflation, rioting, conflict and bickering between the states, Spain was trying to seize territory along the Mississippi River and New England was trying to secede from the Union. The 37 brave and dedicated men who signed the Constitution not only established our form of government. They (and it) saved our nation from destruction from within, restoring unity and refocusing the country on the greater goal.
28. After lengthy heated debate on whether the states would be represented in Congress at one vote per state (wanted by the smaller states) or by population (wanted by the larger states), it was Roger Sherman of Connecticut who suggested the equal representation in the Senate and population-based representation in the House of Representatives. The suggestion was presented three times before it was finally agreed on.
29. The U.S. Constitution is the oldest and shortest Constitution of any major government in the world.
30. The Convention officially opened on Friday, May 25, 1787 with delegates from only seven states. Others came along in due time until all the states were represented except Rhode Island.