Little-Known Facts About the Constitution of the United States
You probably know that the Constitution forms the foundation of limited government in the United States. These unusual facts about the Constitution, however, you may not know...until now.
Just when you thought you couldn't get any smarter, you find these facts about the constitution:
- The Constitution establishes that judges, justices, senators, representatives, and the president are to be paid from public funds. It does not, however, mention anything about the vice president's pay. Sorry, Mr. Biden.
- There have been several times in U.S. History where the office of vice president has been vacant. It wasn't until 1967 that the 25th amendment was ratified stating in section 2 that "Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress."
- Article III of the Constitution establishes a Supreme Court. It does not, however, establish the number of judges--now holding firm at nine, despite the court packing efforts of FDR in the 1930s.
- Most know that James Madison is considered the Father of the Constitution. But did you know that George Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention and that Ben Franklin was called the Sage of the Constitutional Convention?
- Speaking of Founding Fathers, neither Thomas Jefferson nor John Adams signed the Constitution. They were both serving their countries as ambassadors at the time.
- The United States Constitution is 7,641 words (including the amendments). It is the shortest written constitution in the world. It's also the oldest. In comparison, an addendum to the 2,309-page Health Care Reform Act of 2009, detailing implementation of one aspect of the law, contains 118,072 words, more than 15 times longer than the Constitution!
- So exactly how much did it cost to write one of the world's most important and influential documents? About $30. That's what Pennsylvania General Assembly Clerk Jacob Shallus made for putting the Constitution to paper. That's a tad over $700 today.
Super Constitution Trivia
It's hard to tell which section has the better unusual Constitution facts. I think it's this one.
- Before you complain that Shallus was underpaid, consider the several spelling errors in the document, the most egregious being the misspelling of Pennsylvania (Pensylvania) above the signers' names.
- Locked door meetings are nothing new in government. The Constitutional delegates met in secret, behind locked doors with sentries guarding the doors. The press was not allowed to attend.
- The word democracy does not appear in the Constitution. That's because the Constitution did not establish a democracy. It established a republic.
- According to Constitutionfacts.com, "there was a proposal at the Constitutional Convention to limit the standing army for the country to 5,000 men. George Washington sarcastically agreed with this proposal as long as a stipulation was added that no invading army could number more than 3,000 troops!"
- The first national Thanksgiving Day was established on November 26, 1789 by George Washington in order to give thanks for the Constitution. Just a few miles away, a Pennsylvania farmer argued with his father-in-law during dinner, making it the first Thanksgiving Day family argument (OK, I made that last part up).
- The original Constitution is on display at the National Archives in Washington D.C. If you plan on stealing it, make sure you're able to cut through titanium-framed, protective glass and have a protective case containing Argon gas kept at 67 degrees and 40% relative humidity to preserve it.
- After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the original Constitution was moved to Fort Knox. It returned to the National Archives in 1952.
Just when you thought the Constitution couldn't get any greater, you curl up with this article of fun facts. Congratulations!
- The National Constitution Center @ Constitutioncenter.org
- Public domain images courtesy of Wikimedia commons.