How much do you know about the Constitution?

Visitors to the Rotunda in the National Archives look down at the Constitution. Image of front page from the Washington Post website.
Visitors to the Rotunda in the National Archives look down at the Constitution. Image of front page from the Washington Post website.

If you think the Constitution is just a few pieces of parchment in a glass case, think again! It may have been written 223 years ago, but it’s still making headlines. This morning, the Constitution was on the front page of the printed Washington Post.

This week has been a big one for the Constitution in the news—the document received lots of media coverage when it was read aloud by 135 members of the House of Respresentatives yesterday.

You can buy a pocket-sized Constitution in the Archives Shop. You can come and see the Constitution in person for free at the National Archives.

But how much do you know about the creation, history, and content of the Constitution? We’ve compiled a list of the 10 most surprising facts about the blueprint for the Federal Government.

10: The Speaker is the second in line to the Presidency, after the Vice President, under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947.

9: Two Founding Fathers and future Presidents were not at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and did not sign the Constitution. John Adams was ambassador to Great Britain, and Thomas Jefferson was ambassador to France.

8: The Constitution provides for two senators from each state, but it does not set the size of the House. That is set by law. It has been 435 since 1912. The original first amendment to the Constitution sought to deal with this issue, but it was never ratified by enough states to become part of the Constitution.

7: The Constitution was placed with the Department of State in 1789 and stayed in its custody until 1921, when it was transferred to the Library of Congress. It was exhibited there from 1924 until 1954, when it came to the National Archives.

6: Amendments to the Constitution are repealed by adding another amendment.

5: Only one Amendment to the Constitution has been repealed—the 18th (Prohibition).

4:  The last time the Constitution was moved (to return it after preservation treatment to the renovated Rotunda in 2003), it was transported by a convey of guarded trucks. In 1921, however, things were simpler:  “Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam went to the State Department, signed a receipt, placed the Declaration and Constitution on a pile of leather U.S. mail sacks and a cushion in a Model-T Ford truck, returned with them to the Library of Congress, and placed them in a safe in his office.”

3: Six men signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: George Read, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, and James Wilson.

2: The Constitution does not require that the Speaker of the House of Representatives be a member of the House, although a nonmember has never been chosen Speaker.

1: The four pages of the Constitution are on permanent display at the National Archives. But there is a fifth page. It is the Letter of Transmittal of the newly written Constitution to the Congress that existed under the Articles of Confederation.The letter, which briefly describes the Constitution, is signed by George Washington, president of the Constitutional Convention. It is dated September 17, 1787, the anniversary of which we celebrate each year as Constitution Day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *