Today is Constitution day in America. This holiday way established in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the omnibus spending bill of 2004. Before this date, Sept. 17 was known as “Citizenship Day”. In addition to the name change, the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide education on the history of the American Constitution.
In May, 2005, the Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind. Federal workers are not given time off for this holiday. I wonder how many schools actually follow this law? Probably, not many. On this day, Sept. 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution.
In my opinion, this is one of the most important days in American History. But how much do we really know about our Constitution? I thought it might be appropriate to displaysome of the facts on the Constitution. One of the most important things to remember is the basic doctrine of the Constitution remains untouched and unchallenged since its inception. James Madison is considered the “Father of the Constitution”because he was the main person in preparing this extraordinary document. However, 55 other people, including Thomas Jefferson( in my opinion the smartest man this country has ever produced!), and John Adams,who helped Madison with the task of authoring and compiling the Constitution. All three men are considered the Fathers of the Constitution.
The Constitution was written in the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall. Initially, there were only 13 States, but only 12 participated in writing the Constitution. In 1788, nine of the 13 States ratified it. Rhode Island was the last to ratify the document. The total word count in the Constitution is 4,440, and it is the shortest Constitution of any country in the world. Pennsylvania was misspelled as Pensylvania and it is one of the typographical errors in the document.
The youngest person to sign the Constitution was 26 years old and the oldest was 81. They were Jonathan Dayton and Benjamin Franklin respectively.
Though Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were instrumental in Draftingthe Declaration of Independence, neither of them signed the Constitution. Jefferson was in France as U.S. minister, and Adams was U.S. minister in Great Britain.
The Constitution has an introduction called the Preamble. The contents of the Constitution are divided into 7 parts called Articles. The first article gives power to the House of Representatives and the Senate to make and introduce laws. The President is given executive powers and is mentioned in the second article. The Supreme Court in the final court of appeal according to the rights listed in the third article. The list of rights was added in 1791, and the first 10 are known as the Bill of Rights. As of today, more than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in the House of Representatives. Around 33 were sent to the States for ratification, and 27 were approved as amendments.
Women did not get the right to vote until 1920, according to the Constitution, only men could vote. African Americans were not considered as American citizens, hence they were denied the right to vote and native Americans were given rights in 1924.
Jacob Shallus (1750- 1796) was the engrosser or Penman of the Constitution, whose hand written copy of the Constitution is on display in the National Archives.
The Federalist Papersare a series of 85 articles or essays promoting the ratification of the Constitution. Seventy- Seven of the essays were published serially in the Independent Journal, and the New York Packetbetween October 1787 and August 1788. A compilation of these and eight others, called The Federalist; or, The New Constitution, was published in two volumes in 1788 by J. and A. McLean. The series correct title is The Federalist; The Federalist Papers did not emerge until the 20thcentury. The authors of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, wanted both to influence the vote in favor of ratification and shape future interpretations of the Constitution. The Authors used the pseudonym “Publius”, in honor of the Roman Consul Publius Valerius Publicola. According to historian Richard B. Morris, they are an “incomparable exposition of the Constitution, a classic in political science unsurpassed in both breadth and depth by the product of any later American writer”. Ours is one of the oldest written Constitutions in the world and the first, anywhere, to be submitted to the people for their approval. As Madison explained, the Constitution is “of no more consequence than the paper on which it is written, unless it be stamped with the approbation of those to whom it is addressed……. THE PEOPLE!
Enjoy this day, and be thankful that God blessed us with such brave and intelligent men who risked their lives and fortunes to make a new nation and form of Government, one that was totally unique in the fact that WE THE PEOPLE, are its master, and the Government is our servant.
Mike Stegall is a Darke County Commissioner . He can be reached at (937) 547-7300 or by email at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.