One of the most important documents in American History has to be the Constitution.
America’s entire existence is based on this document, which is still referred to and referenced in the American legal system on a daily basis.
Countless hours of research have been done by historians and lawyers into the creation and interpretation of this historic document.
However, with all of this research, there are many little-known (and sometimes strange) facts about the Constitution that are relatively unknown to most Americans.
10 Odd Facts About the Constitution
1. In modern times, it is common to hear about the need for government transparency, but many Americans do not realize that the Constitution was prepared in secret, behind lock doors. Many believed that Philadelphia Convention was going to update the Articles of Confederation; not create an entirely new government.
2. There are 39 signatures on the Constitution. However, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams never actually signed the constitution. Not because they did not agree with it, but because they were out of the country working as diplomats (one was in France, the other was in Great Britain).
3. On October 3, 1789, President George Washington proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving on November 26th to celebrate the freedom of America. In his proclamation he stated, “…we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation…”
4. The hand-written Constitution is far from being error free. Several of the words in the document use the British variation of certain words, such as honour instead of honor. Yet, the biggest faux pas made by the founding fathers is that Pennsylvania is spelled wrong in one part of the Constitution.
5. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate to sign the Constitution. He is one of the few who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. However, due to an illness, he needed help to sign the Constitution. According to accounts, he reportedly cried while signing it.
6. Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry both declined to become delegates to the Constitution Convention, because both believed that the existing government under the Articles of Confederation could still be used. It has been reported that Henry stated that he “smelled a rat” in the creation of the Constitution.
7. The word “democracy” is not used anywhere in the Constitution. Read it, it’s true! This is largely due to the fact that America is not a democracy. It is actually a Constitution-based federal republic. Though it has democratic traditions, it is not a full democracy.
8. Anti-Federalists believed that the Constitution would make the government too powerful and dominated by the rich. Is it possible that they were right?
9. The Constitution does not presume the innocence of people. This idea actually comes from English jurisprudence; however, it has been around so long that it is seen as common law. The presumption of innocence is explicitly implied in the right to remain silent, and a right to a trial by jury.
10. The Constitution does not give Congress the right to print money. In actuality, the Constitution grants the power to “coin money.” The assumption being made here was that these coins would be made out of some sort of precious metal such as gold or silver. Some interpreters of the Constitution actually stated that the printing of paper money may be unconstitutional – it prohibited states from issuing “bills of credit.” However, this is exactly what the federal government does now by printing paper currency.
These are only a few of the odd facts about the Unites States constitution.
It is amazing to realize how little we know about one of the most important documents in American history.