Constitutional Facts


The U.S. Constitution was written in the same Pennsylvania State House where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where George Washington received his commission as Commander of the Continental Army. Now called Independence Hall, the building still stands today on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, directly across from the National Constitution Center. 


Written in 1787, the Constitution was signed on September 17th. But it wasn’t until 1788 that it was ratified by the necessary nine states. 


 The U.S. Constitution was prepared in secret, behind locked doors that were guarded by sentries. 


 Established on November 26, 1789, the first national “Thanksgiving Day” was originally created by George Washington as a way of “giving thanks” for the Constitution. 


 Of the written national constitutions, the U.S. Constitution is the oldest and shortest. 


At 81, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention and at 26, Jonathon Dayton of New Jersey was the youngest. 


The original Constitution is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping. 


More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in Congress. Thirty three have gone to the States to be ratified and twenty seven have received the necessary approval from the States to actually become amendments to the Constitution. 


Three Latin phrases appear in the Constitution: pro tempore, ex post facto, and habeas corpus.  


The 85 articles of The Federalist were instrumental in getting the Constitution ratified and were written by Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay.  


The Constitutional Convention lasted from May 25, 1787 through September 17, 1787. George Washington served as president of the Constitutional Convention, but did not speak during any of the proceedings until the Convention’s final day.  


During the Convention, George Washington sat in a chair that had a representation of half a sun on the top, which Benjamin Franklin regularly gazed at during troublesome moments of the proceedings. Asked why, he said he was unable to decide if the sun was rising or setting. Only when the Constitution was signed did Franklin decide the sun was rising.  


John Shallus, a clerk for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, physically wrote the Constitution down on parchment paper. The Convention paid him $30 for his services, which is worth about $800 today.  


Rhode Island was the only State that refused to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention and was the last State to ratify the Constitution (May 29, 1790).  


One of the Constitutional Convention’s debates was the title of the nation’s Chief Executive. One possible idea: “His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties.” Eventually everyone settled on “The President of the United States.”  


Giving comfort to grammar errants everywhere, the official copy of the Constitution contains an incorrect word — Article 1, Section 10 uses “it’s” when it should be “its,” even in 18th-century usage. However, the word “chuse” as used in the Constitution was acceptable at the time. So was the alternative spelling of Pennsylvania, Pensylvania; the Constitution actually uses both spellings.  


The United States Constitution is also referred to as 'The Bundle of Compromises'.  


Nowhere in the United States Constitution do the words 'democracy' or 'God' appear.  


Patrick Henry did not attend because he said he 'smelt a rat'.  


The United States population when the Constitution was signed was 4 million. Today the population is more than 309 million.  


The English Bill of Rights of 1689 is considered one of the basic documents of English constitutional law. Among other rights, this document expresses the right of citizens to have arms for their defense.


When it came time for the States to ratify the Constitution, the lack of any bill of rights was the primary sticking point.  


Because of his poor health, Benjamin Franklin needed help to sign the Constitution. As he did so, tears streamed down his face.  


The first time the formal term "The United States of America" was used was in the Declaration of Independence.  


The 'Massachusetts Body of Liberties' was the first document written in America regarding free speech.


After the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the States, approximately 150 amendments were initially proposed.


The 'Fundamental Orders of Connecticut'  is considered the first complete political constitution in America.


The Founders established two 'safety nets' that were placed in the Constitution to guard against unconstitutional irregularities imposed by either Congress or the judicial system. The first safety net was the States' right to call for a convention to amend the Constitution and the second safety net is the Common law jury.


The 'Braintree Resolves' was a document written by John Adams in 1765 and asserted to attack the Stamp Act on British constitutional and economic grounds.


The practice of 'Writs of Assistance' by the British soldiers influenced our Founding Fathers to include the 4th Amendment in the Bill of Rights.


The U.S. Constitution states that " attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

This was referring to children who should not suffer consequences for a parent's acts of treason.


The Magna Carta is the source of our most fundamental concepts of law. The very concept of a written constitution stems from this document. In over 100 decisions, the United States Supreme Court has traced our dependence on this document for our understanding of due process of law.


Some of our Founders were concerned that if an unalienable right was not 'enumerated', it might be used as an excuse to deny rights that belonged to the people. The 9th Amendment was added to the Bill of Rights as one of the 'catch-all' amendments.


The 'Plan of Union' was a document written by William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, in 1697. It is one of the earliest known written plans that would have created a formal union to bind the American colonies closer together.


John Locke's theory of 'social compact' is seen in the Declaration of Independence that states that governments should 'derive their just powers from the consent of the governed'.


During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the 'British Plan' for governance proposed to give one national governor (the president) the power to veto any State law. It also stipulated that Senate members, the national governor and the judiciary should all be elected for life.


The 'Judiciary Act' of 1789 established the federal district and circuit courts and it created the position of Attorney General of the United States of America.


The last time the 'Fugitive Slave Law' was enforced in Massachusetts was on June 2, 1854. It led to a riot that required 2,000 soldiers and Marines to enforce it.


The Federalist Paper #47 was directed toward the people in the State of New York and was written under the pseudonym 'PUBLIUS', and published on January 30, 1788. It advocated the importance of separating federal powers and sought to influence State legislators and citizens toward the ratification of the Constitution. 


The famous 1803 Marbury v. Madison case established the precedent of judicial review.


On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced 'Independence for the American Colonies' in the second Continental Congress.


The push to give the District of Columbia (city of Washington D.C.) representation in Congress violates Article V: Equal representation and equal voting rights in the Senate.


The provision in the Constitution that states that no State shall be 'deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate...' cannot be altered through the amendment process.

Yet on April 8, 1913, Congress created the 17th Amendment which did just that.


Although Thomas Jefferson was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence, he was assisted in committee by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman.


After the Boston Tea party of 1773, Great Britain retaliated by passing a series of measures which the colonists called the 'Intolerable Acts'.


The signers of the 'Mayflower Compact' made covenants before God and to teach each other to be devoted to the 'Advancement of the Christian Faith...' It's first sentence reads, 'In the name of God Amen'. Those who signed this document quickly found themselves struggling for their lives.


The 'Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms', written by John Hancock in 1775 asserted, 'Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable'.


As the Constitutional Convention was in its final days, Hugh Williamson of North Carolina noted that there was still not a provision for the right to a jury in civil trials. The exclusion of this established right would later be cited by many opponents of ratification as justification for their zealous opposition.