Constitution Day background
The late Senator Robert C. Byrd, a
former West Virginia Democrat and Congress' unofficial Constitutional scholar,
believed that American primary, secondary and post-secondary students lack
significant knowledge regarding the United States Constitution. In December
2004, Senator Byrd proposed an amendment that was passed by both the House of
Representatives and the Senate in an attempt to increase students' knowledge
about the Constitution.
The legislation requires that all
educational institutions receiving federal funds implement educational programs
relating to the U.S. Constitution on September 17 of each year. This date was
chosen due to the fact that on September 17, 1787 the delegates to the
Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the United States
Constitution and present it to the American public.
Some facts about the Constitution
- 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
- Some of the
original framers and many delegates in the state ratifying conventions
were very troubled that the original Constitution lacked a description of
individual rights. In 1791, Americans added a list of rights to the
Constitution. The first ten amendments became known as the Bill of Right.
- Of the 55
delegates attending the Constitutional Convention, 39 signed and 3
delegates dissented. Two of America's "founding fathers" didn't
sign the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was representing his country in
France and John Adams was doing the same in Great Britain.
- 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 all 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.
- On March 24,
1788, a popular election was held in Rhode Island to determine the
ratification status of the new Constitution. The vote was 237 in favor and