Do you know your country's Constitution?
The United States Constitution is probably the most important document our government has and the least understood document of the general public. Fewer than 6 percent of the American people can name the basic freedoms protected by the First Amendment (Freedom of speech, religion, freedom of the press, the right to assemble peaceably, and the right to petition the government). The United States Constitution has about 4440 words, the oldest and shortest written constitution of any major government in the world.
Of the many spelling errors in the Constitution the one to stand out the most is the word "Pennsylvania," above the signers names. They had only put one " N" in Pennsylvania. The United States
Constitution was penned by John Shallus, Pa. General Assembly Clerk, for $30, about $762 in today's value. George Washington and James Madison were the only two presidents to sign the Constitution.
The United States Constitution was adopted on Sept. 17 1787, and is the foundation of the laws of our great country. However it was not ratified until 1788 by the necessary nine states. The Constitution was written in secret behind closed locked doors by sentries, in the same Pennsylvania state house as that the Declaration of Independence was signed, and where George Washington received the commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. The house is now called Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Our Constitution stands as a testimony of America thought out history to maintain our liberties, freedom and rights as Americans. The United States Constitution is to this day used as an example for other foreign countries in forming their own Constitutions.
Of the 55 delegates attending the Constitutional Convention, 39 signed and three delegates dissented. Two of the 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. The oldest delegate to sign the Constitution was Benjamin Franklin of Pa. at the age of 81, the youngest individual was Jonathan Dayton from New Jersey who was 26.
Some of the original framers and many delegates in the state ratifying Conventions were troubled that the original Constitution lacked a description of individual rights. These were added later. Of the 12 amendments originally proposed, 10 were eventually ratified, and became The Bill of Rights. The term Bill of Rights does not appear in the document.
The first national Thanksgiving was established on Nov. 26, 1789 by George Washington as a way of "Giving Thanks," for the U.S. Constitution.
The original Constitution is on display at the National Archives in Washington D.C. The Constitution was housed in Fort Knox for safe keeping after Pearl Harbor was bombed.
The Constitution provides us with a government made up of three separate divisions:
1. The Executive branch headed by the President. The president must be at least 35 years of age and been born in the United States. The President can only serve two four-year terms. The 22nd Amendment was passed in 1951. The 22nd Amendment was introduced by Representative nominee Thomas Dewey, governor of New York toward the end of the 1944 campaign. President Dwight D Eisenhower was the first president effected by this new amendment of being held to two four-year terms. However most setting presidents choose only to service two terms prior to this amendment being enacted, as far back as our first president George Washington, even though he said he was not running again due to his age.
2. The Legislative branch consisting of the House of Representatives, and the Senate. A Representative must be at least 35 years of age, been a citizen of The United States for at least seven years, must reside in the state he represents. He serves a two year term and is elected by the voters of their district. A Senator is elected for a six year term by the voters of their district, must be at least 30 years of age, been a citizen of The United States for at least nine years, and reside in the State he represents.
3. The Judicial branch consist of the Supreme Court and the Federal Courts. The judges serving in these courts are appointed by the president and approved by the Legislative branch.
Our Constitution sets up a government with a check and balance system. In order for a bill to become a law it must have past at least two branches of the government. In order for it to pass in the Senate or the House of Representatives it had to obtained at least a two-thirds majority vote, at which time it goes to the president for his approval or veto. The president must return said bill to the House it originated in within 10 days, unless the House is closed, or it becomes a law.
A few facts about our Constitution that are misunderstood or not in the Constitution at all, we just think they are.
1. One is innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of doubt. In actuality it says, one is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
2. The word democracy does not appear in the constitution at all.
3. The first time the formal term The United States Constitution of America appeared was in The Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.
It took 100 days to frame the constitution. The Constitution doesn't set forth requirements for right to vote. As result at the outset of the Union, only male property owners could vote. African Americans were not considered citizens, women were excluded from electoral process. Women did not obtain the right to vote until the 19th amendments was ratified on August 18, 1920. Native Americans were not given the right to vote until 1924. At the time of the signing of the Constitution the population of the states was 4 million, Philadelphia being the largest city with population of 40,000. The United States population now is 315 million plus.
Constitution date, also known as Citizens Day is celebrated every year on Sept. 17, the anniversary day of framers signing the document. Constitution Week was first brought about by the DAR President General Gertrude S. Carraway. Members of United States Congress received copies of the DAR Resolution on June 7, 1955. On June 14 Senator William F. Knowland of California introduced the proposal for Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week. Following passage of both houses of Congress, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his proclamation on August 19, 1955. The first observance of Constitution week was such a success that on January 5, 1956, Senator Knowland introduced a Senate Joint Resolution to have the president designate September 17-23 annually as Constitution Week. This resolution was adopted July 23, and signed into law on August 2, 1956.
In God We Trust was adopted as the official motto for the United States in 1956 as an alternative or replacement to unofficial motto E pluribus unum adopted 1782, when the Gold Seal of the United States was created. In God We Trust as a motto first appeared on U.S. coins but not as a motto (1864), it first appear on paper currency in 1957. Some secularists objected to it use. The phase appears to have originated in The Star Spangled Banner written during War of 1812.
Note: Karen Reeve is a member of the Lt. Asa Stevens DAR.